• Hannah Craft

"The comeback is always stronger than the setback..."

Well, as I brushed the sand from my number bib (a souvenir from our last event, where, after a nice showjumping round, I managed to throw myself off at the last fence), I sent up a quick prayer to the eventing gods that I would NOT fall off this time.


My destination of choice was Moreton Morrell - a first for us, but it's always nice to try something new isn't it (like, for example, not falling off)?!


I arrived at the yard in what can only be described as a torrential downpour. It looked like an Olympic-sized swimming pool had been emptied in the sky above Sid's barn.


Luckily I am a pretty adept swimmer, so a few lengths of breaststroke later between the tack room, Sid's stable and my car and Sid was (reasonably) clean, plaited up and loaded onto my trailer.


Groom-in-training, my 11 year old niece, spent the car journey cheerfully telling me that we were driving into dark clouds, trying to break my "trailer cam" app and enquiring about the food vans that might be found on arrival.


We pulled up and were relieved to find that the trailer park was surprisingly dry. We managed to park without having to be towed on, which was rather good given I have no idea what a towing eye is, let alone where mine might be found.


We walked the cross country course, with GIT (ha, that was NOT deliberate, I swear) diving under the white tape or into a hedge every time she heard a whistle go. She took her "get out of the way" responsibility very seriously, I must say.


We had entered the 90 for (hopefully) a confidence-building run for Sid. It looked great - I was excited.


With the rain miraculously holding off, we napped our way to the dressage warm up.


I have to say, Sid warmed up really rather nicely. I think that inclement weather is his thing - it really helps him bend around my inside leg when the wind and rain is coming from the outside.


We went in and did what I thought was a fair test. Only recently have I started to leave the dressage arena with a smile rather than a grimace, but I'm loving it!


We got 32, in a harshly-marked section, which was the 4th best score!


We headed over to showjumping and, despite some incredible efforts with the ground, inevitably it was a bit churned up. The course was also fairly tight for a horse of Sid's HGV qualities.


We skidded around a little, helped by my innate ability to turn far too tightly whatever the line, and finished with two poles down.


However, I WAS STILL ONBOARD.


GIT came jogging towards us as we exited the arena and asked whether we had jumped yet. Needless to say, she forgot to video the round.


I think my attitude to showjumping can be summed up by this Winston Churchill quote:

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."


So, enthusiastically, we booted up and headed over to the cross country.


I had instructed GIT to:

(a) bring Hilberry along with her to the start and

(b) churn out something positive and motivational every time I told her I was feeling sick.


This she did. I had essentially brought along a small, blonde cheerleader (fuelled by three large cookies, 4 blackcurrant fruit shoots and two packets of crisps).


With GIT safely installed at the sidelines of the cross country start, and Hilberry dropped a few times en route in the mud (#ffsGIT) I began warming up.


Sid was feeling keen, and very nearly deposited me the other side of the warm up fence after taking a flyer.


All too soon I was jogging to the start box (not intentionally, he was just acting like #billybigbollocks and I was conserving energy by letting him).


We only had 30 seconds to go, so I had no time to panic. Instead I panicked about not being able to panic (but only for 30 seconds - I usually prefer a 2 minute panic - it feels more worthwhile).


We were OFF and Sid felt keen! We popped the first fence and headed to the second - a bench-style rolltop. He flew that and picked up slightly more speed than I wanted, given fence three was not far away at all.



Happily he met that on a good stride, and we thundered across the path and over four, a palisade.

A bit of a canter and although I nearly missed the turning to five and six, we motorbiked around the bend and started the downhill element.


I was worried about the rolltop to hedge, because I always feel like I'm jumping off the edge of the world when there's even a slight downhill gradient, but Sid just carried on popping.

As we thundered down the slope to the combination at seven, I spent a few moments musing about how bad it would be if I fell off here, miles away from a jump.


By the time I had concluded that would have been "quite bad", we were over the double and heading towards the next.


We took it at an angle, because why not, and then I remembered the next fence was the corner, which we took at a slightly more decorous pace and angle.


He flew the next two and charged through the combination (was that meant to be two strides or three...) and we were over the pheasant feeder and eating up the hill.


I thought it might slow Sid down, but it turns out that was optimistic.


He ploughed over the rolltop and I worked hard to get him back for the skinny at the top of the hill.

He saw a stride and committed, and then it was back downhill (don't fall off Hannah, you've come this far....) to tackle the boat.


He splashed aggressively through the water and popped the B element out, launching over the final fence CLEAR with plenty of petrol left in the tank.



We had gone too fast - but half deliberately, as I wanted to let him really attack the fences and start taking long strides rather than chipping in and second-guessing it all.


GIT walked Sid off by half-jogging-half-sprinting alongside him in a very awkward shuffle-run, because he was still on a bit of a mission, but he was so obliging as to only step on her toes once.


11 polos later and we were on our way to horse diabetes and home, featuring a journey soundtrack of "The Greatest Showman" epic-ness.


To finish on another quote (I seem to be very philosophical today):


"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."


I think that is my new eventing mantra (and no, I shall not be swapping the "i" for an extra "L".


The best bit was that Sid was super excited to be back out eventing - albeit his front leg action is not very efficient.....

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