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  • Writer's pictureHannah Craft

Sid Goes...Back To Work!

After a few weeks of self-imposed furlough (four legs, three shoes - twice), Sid was back in business in time for West Wilts.

The day began with a win: McDonald's gave me a double sausage & egg McMuffin by mistake! Woop, sticking it to the man (and by 'man' I mean Ronald)...

We had afternoon times, so I arrived at the yard and began calmly plaiting Sid up. I had failed to grasp that his friends were out in the field and he was not.

Naturally, this resulted in angry munching on hay and his signature ("F off") move; waiting until I am precariously balanced and holding a full plait, then yanking his head out of reach.

He then proceeded to load like a pro, if by "pro" you mean "stubborn mule". With the inducement of an apple, we were finally on our way.

When he realised we were at an event, he turned from Gremlin to Mogwai*.

*if you didn't get the reference, please do not read any further. It is probably past your bedtime. Am I old and bitter? Absolutely.

We began warming up for stressage. I was very conscious of all of the pro riders around me (amateur competitors, where are you all hiding?! Please come back out to play)!!!

I headed over to the arena to follow what looked like a beautiful test. It turned out to be the winning score - typical!

If I could have followed the horse back to Will's lorry and snuck it onto my trailer, I would have...Sid keeps asking me for a brother.

(First Husband, on the other hand, is a keen advocate for no 'children' whatsoever)

Anyway, I have been diligently plugging away at our flatwork, so I raised my chin and trotted over.

And despite me throwing away my right rein on the free walk, and probably terrifying my judge with a crazed smile at the beginning, Sid pulled off a personal best for us at BE with a score of 28.3!

Proud as punch, we headed to the showjumping.

I couldn't get Sid to touch a pole in the warm up for love nor money, which always makes me anxious. It is normally something I would consider a personal talent of mine.

We entered the ring and the heavens opened. It was quite refreshing, but then again I do quite like to be able to see where I am going...

The first 5 fences were textbook (no, they really were!), but sadly I misjudged the first part of a double, resulting in the removal of the next 3 poles. I was interfering a bit too much - my "go to" when something goes wrong...

We then rolled the last fence, leaving us with 4 down.

Oops...I was brought firmly back down to earth. I am not a fortune teller, but I foresee some BSJA in our near future...and some very busy pole pickers!

It was time for the cross country, and although we are pretty comfortable at 100 now, and had an amazing XC schooling session at Lyneham the week prior, it was not my favourite kind of course.

For a start, it included a trakhener. To top that off, there were so many ruddy combinations! And nothing particularly big and wide and gallop-y! Quel disaster.

However, it was too late in the day to ask the course designer to move things around to accommodate my fear of ditches/skinnies, so we warmed up Sid-style - overenthusiastically and at his preferred pace (which is somewhere between canter and gallop, but closer to gallop).

Sid left the start box like a gym junkie on steroids...

He steeple-chased the flower tray, and then the brush (once he got over the fact that it was quite clearly plastic - in Sid's eyes, plastic is the work of the devil).

Fence 3 was a roll-top - no chance of slowing him down there, then!

Luckily fence 4 was a bright blue barrel before the water. I took the opportunity to gather my reins (and dignity) up, and we turned to the palisade rails on the mound.

Sid quite fancied the jump to the left of ours (it was bigger).

However, he finally locked onto the correct fence and hurdled it.

We headed for the rollover, which was on the fence line. Sid is the kind of horse that likes to stay in one field (no sense of adventure!) but when he realised he was allowed to take it in his stride without being checked, he was game.

He wasn't quite sure what to make of the palisade combination, but popped through with a little vocal encouragement, and we headed to the barrel and ditch.

Now, anyone who's seen this ditch will know it's pretty fact, some might say it is wide enough for Hannah to fit in.

But I gave Sid plenty of warning, and kept my leg on, and he hopped over the barrel and then the ditch, making it easy enough for me that I was able to thank the fence judges as we cantered off.

We came to "double bee" - a sharks' teeth upright followed by a few strides to a pretty wide hedge into another field. I refer to you my previous comment re. jumping out of fields.

He did have a little moment of indecision at the hedge, but he obviously heard me through his acoustic ears and went!

Next came the rail-over-step. I was really not a fan of this when walking the course, because it is the kind of question where I worry that Sid's brain might not work as fast as his legs...

But I gathered Sid up as best I could and hoped for a miracle. He wasn't quite sure about it, but he jumped up and managed not to fall flat on his face on the other side...phew!

The triple of houses rode beautifully, and then we were heading down to that trakhener...

I had been told to "sit back, put your leg on and don't look down" - and that's exactly what I did. After a millisecond where I thought he might stop, he jumped from underneath it (whilst keeping a close eye on the ditch). We were over!

Cue lots of praise, continuing over the sleeper bank and rail combination and then the palisade and skinny "v" combination (see, so many combinations)!

We galloped towards the final combination (!), a triple brush to a hedge, and Sid felt full of running. much so that I had to haul on the brakes to avoid taking the triple brush like an oxer! Which would have been fun, but I think is bad form (especially in such clear view of the lorry park)...

He sailed over the finish line as I heard the commentator say "he looks like a horse that could carry you all day..." which I feel is the equivalent of saying someone is big-boned?!

We came home clear within the time, so just those darn poles to add to our dressage score. I'm determined to crack that showjumping - but if not, does anyone want to join me in creating a new sport called "dresscountry"? Also known as the ultimate equestrian challenge for those that can't showjump?!

Lots of love, Sid Goes Eventing xxx

PS. I thought you might enjoy the below picture, which I have titled "The Four Faces of Hannah Pre-XC"...

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