Course Walks, Scary Flowers, Prosecco and Goose Bumps!

It’s 5’oclock in the morning and I’m wide awake lying on my blow up bed in the back of my lorry, trying to not wake anyone else up. I don’t think it’s sunk in properly yet what Blue and I have done yesterday. Before we left home I was just so excited and felt so privileged to be even coming to Badminton and taking part in the Mitsubishi Cup, so to have come away with a double clear and ended on my dressage score to be placed 8th out of 110 competitors is so beyond my wildest dream and expectations. 

Presentation from Sheerwater Insurance Services and the EHOA
We also won the highest placed member of Event Horse Owners Association prize for the BE90, Where I got to ride Blue to the mounted prize giving at the front of Badminton house and receive our Silver Salver, Rossette and prize from shearwater Insurance and the EHOA. I can’t thank the EHOA and Sheerwater Insurance enough for making my day feel so special. I kept feeling the urge to pinch myself that this was happening, things like this don’t happen to me! I said to the lady next to me at the Prize Giving, whilst we were sat on our Horses in front of Badminton house, “How lucky are we!”

Presentation from the EHOA and Sheerwater Insurance at Badminton House

The whole experience at the Mitsubishi Cup has been fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone, from the moment you arrive you are greeted at the lorry park by happy helpful people from the stable managers, Event Secretary’s and stewards and it continued on through the dressage, show jumping and Xc, I again can’t thank them enough for giving their time to make my experience and hundreds of other competitors such a good one. 

Lucky Socks with My Mitsubishi Cup Number
We arrived Monday about Lunch time so we could set up camp with our friends Dave & Davina Coombes, who’s daughter Alisha was also competing in the BE90. With the horses all settled in nicely in thier cosy stables we quickly made our way to the secretary’s tent to get our numbers and programme. It’s quite a moment when you see your name and horse details in the official Badminton programme. There was a course walk with Tom McEwen at 3pm so off we headed to the start, We were both really eager to get to the Xc course and see what was ahead of us. Tom was great at showing how to ride the lines and things to watch out for as we made our way round the course. I felt pretty confident that Blue had done enough preparation for the course that was set. 

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny warm day to get the Mitsubishi Cup Final underway, both myself and Alisha were competing on Wednesday, so we had a lovely free day to watch and take everything in. From the stables, we were allowed to ride around the back of the Badminton Estate and give the horses a lovely hack round some beautiful countryside. 


Hacking around Badminton Estate

My friend Laura Vine had come with me for the week, she understands the way I work and knows when to help or just let me get on with it and it was so helpful to have someone with me to bounce things off. After riding we went and walked the course again this time doing my minute markers. In all we walked the Xc four times, with various friends and later Tuesday afternoon with Harry Meade who again was so interesting to listen too.

Dressage day
Wednesday morning was Dressage, it was blowing an absolute hoolie and pretty chilly! Blue is an absolutely fabulous mare but she does like to have a good spook at stuff, with this in mind and knowing that there would be more flower pots than usual around the dressage arena, I took some made up plastic flower pots to put in her stable, with the hope she might become friends with them! She warmed ok and we went in to our test, straight away she went all tense on me, I could feel her quivering every time we went past a flowerpot. I spent the whole test just trying to contain her and kept her next to the boards instead of being able to ride her like normal. I was so disappointed afterward with our performance, after all the work I’ve put into that phase, to not go as good as we can do was really frustrating. But we went the right way and did’nt leave the arena so that was a bonus!

Show Jumping Phase (picture from Claire Lewis)
Next was the Show Jumping which is the phase you can least control, it was a good up to height course, but I knew if I just kept her moving forward was within our capabilities, Laura helped me with the warm up fences and she was jumping fab, so off I went in the arena. Unfortunately the lady before me fell off at the last fence, I just walked round and tried not to watch and focus on what I was going to do. Blue was jumping lovely and bar the approach on one fence, where she was a bit disunited, we met everything as I had hoped. I had planned to put two, in the last fence, being a double which she did lovely for me. Never have I felt so much relieve to come through the finish line as clear. I had a lot of friends watching and heard them all cheer which was so lovely.

Heading for the Xc start! 

After a quick change it was off to the Xc start, I was so looking forward to this part. Into the start box and 5,4,3,2,1 we were off galloping along Badminton hallow turf, Blue felt amazing and was jumping her socks off, nothing was a problem. The feeling of galloping along the straights between the fences, especially on the approach the the lakes is something else and gives me goose bumps thinking about it. We were hitting my minute markers bang on time and with only the corners and last fence to go I knew we would be fine. After jumping the last fence I heard my watch do its Final beep over the finish line and we had hit the time bang on 6.59! 

Xc at the double hedges
I was so happy, a few tears of relief, happiness and overwhelming pride that I had for Blue for doing that for me hit me. To have bred her, produced her and now gone double clear at Badminton is really special, She is my horse of a lifetime. 

WE HAD DONE IT! 

Laura came running back from the coffin where she had gone to watch us and we led Blue back to the lorry going through the whole course and how it went, no sooner we got back to the lorry lots of friends turned up and many bottle of Prosseco were opened and consumed, it was so nice to have so many people with us that knew our journey up to this point. Alisha had also down a fabulous double clear with Delurens Upsey Daisy and came 20th, we were a happy camp! Blue being completely oblivious to what she had just done, just picked at the grass while I took her studs out. I popped into the lorry to put something away, my phone was beeping and pinging like mad, then it rang and it was Cathy Butler from the EHOA to say I had won the highest placed member award and I need to bring Blue to the mounted prize giving. Up till that point I had no idea where I was lying in the leader board, but then it was confirmed I was 8th!!!!! WOW! 

The presentation at Badminton House was a truly special moment that will stay with me for forever. I felt so privileged to be there along with the other riders that had done so well that day. I really can’t thank the Event Horse Owners Association and Sheerwater Insurance Services enough. The familiar voice of Mike Tucker announcing our names was unreal.


After the presentation, we headed back to the lorry,  we sorted Blue out and then sorted the inside of the lorry out which resembled a jumble sale. We quickly made something to eat as we were all starving, I was absolutely exhausted and within an hour us and the Coombes family next door were soundly asleep. Lightweights I know but it had been such an awesome day. We had the EHOA dinner by the lakeside to look forward to on Thursday night and we would carry on our celebrations there. It was a lovely evening with absolutely delicious food and fizz, we all had a great evening. 

I have to thank Alan and my boys, Tristan and Will , who came to support me and helped me so much in the build up to this event. Laura Vine for coming with me, making me laugh when I needed to, looking after Blue and general being a great support. Nicola Buchanan who has improved my dressage no end. Kirstie Johnston and Joe Roome for my show jumping lessons. Ben Mansbridge my farrier for putting sets of shoes on Blue, whilst on his days off, because I needed them done on certain dates.

Now I’m back home to reality,  three loads of washing already done, the lorry has been restored to it’s original state, Homework starts tonight and my neglected house needs a good sort out! But more importantly I need to look up what BE events I can enter to try and qualify to go back to the Mitsubishi Cup next year! 

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