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  • Writer's pictureHannah Craft

Sid Goes...To The Dark Side

What would be really good for you, I think, is a bit of B.S.J.A. over winter…” And, just like that, my heart plummeted to the ground. Icy fear curled itself all around my body. Acid rolled around in the pit of my stomach. B.S.J.A. - we all know what that acronym really stands for: Blood-curdling Sycho’s (yes, I KNOW, but it is a silent P)! Jousting for a go at the warm up fence… Apocalypse. The warm up arena might as well be a firing range, and NO ONE IS ON THE BIT. Altogether, the thought was quite distressing. Nevertheless, I am consistently terrible at show-jumping, and so I decided that drastic action was required. After navigating the website to purchase a day ticket (which was quite an investment in time, but purely because it turns out a day ticket costs only £5. I couldn’t quite get my head around that), I decided to make the trip to Onley for our first ever B.S.J.A. outing. We left early last Saturday morning, and under cover of darkness I snuck to McD’s for my customary “show day breakfast”. First Husband was on the alert, though, and I was immediately contacted with a demand to know why my 2020 diet had lasted a grand total of 11 days. The cons of a joint banking app that notifies both parties every time one of us spends (and let’s be honest, 9 times out of 10 it is me that is spending). Having pacified him with divorce threats (“…if you don’t appreciate me as I am, then I will find somebody who does…” etc etc), we arrived at the showground. I was relieved to see that the cold, grey weather had put a few people off. I did not need an audience to witness my ####-ness. Apart from a distinct lack of hairnets, show-jumpers looked very similar to eventers. It was a revelation. I like to conform, and so I had picked up a little bit of bling, thinking I would fit in better thus attired. Sid was quite disconcerted by the bling, as well as being the only coloured horse at the showground. So my efforts were unappreciated I fear - he stuck out like a sore thumb. I also managed to cover my saddlepad in mud due to an inconvenient gust of wind just as I was about to throw the saddle on... Mud and bling notwithstanding (an incongruous pairing), we spooked our way towards the warm up and entered the fray. All my worries about the warm up were realised, but not quite as expected. My trusty mount had suddenly turned feral. Sid was a nutcase, to be totally frank. Every time I turned towards a fence he practically bolted in his excitement, and I had real trouble applying the brakes. So much for everyone else. I WAS THE TOKEN WARM UP NUTTER. We headed into the ring and I took a few deep breaths. Show-jumping is literally my biggest phobia. What followed was a heady blur of enthusiasm and galloping, with a bit of spooking at every arena wall thrown into the mix for fun. Surprisingly, we only took down one pole in all of the chaos, but it was NOT a pretty round. Sid trotted out snorting like some sort of feisty warmblood. I began to worry that he had accidentally been put on rocket fuel, instead of his usual “good doer” mix. We put our names down for the Discovery – in for a penny, in for a pound. I fervently hoped the slightly bigger fences might slow him down. Clearly he had blown off some steam, because he was slightly more willing to have a conversation in the warm up. We headed back to the ring for round two, and I determined we would try and look slightly less dangerous. What followed was actually a fairly nice round, and although Sid rolled two poles in the first half (one I checked for a deep stride and two he was disunited and I lost the canter) he jumped beautifully over all of the bigger jump off fences. I came out grinning, despite nearly falling off when Sid spooked at a shadow en route to the trailer - oops. Feeling fired up, we headed home to a Chinese takeaway (because I live by the mentality that once you’ve ruined a diet day, you might as well go the whole hog)! Now to find some brakes…

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