Eventing – of course! That’s what we’re here for… and Eventually writing up my blog post! I really will try harder to get the posts up sooner, but at the moment work and life take up the non-Eventing time and I forget.
This is really a late reflection on our experience at Munstead on Saturday 19 September – our first British Eventing 80(T) Event, and the point where I finally reached my goal of eventing before my 40th birthday. It was a genuine experience with highs and lows ultimately culminating in another ‘E’, more of which later.
E is for Experience – we aimed at this competiton, we went and did our best for a first, slightly nervy, outing. Despite the restrictions due the pandemic it was fun, although like conducting at a concert I rarely enjoy the experience at the time, reliving the best bits afterwards. It wasn’t a surprise to be slightly nervous and tense in the Dressage with less time to warm up than I would have liked, but we scored 37.8 – a little way behind the leaders but not a total disgrace. (Remembering the tests is a bit of a challenge for me, especially as the main points run from A followed by E, then C, and B after that, which makes visualising the order of the movements occasionally difficult.) The rest of the day went as I’d planned for: course walk of the XC, planning routes and spotting possible challenges, checking out the showjumping course and finding out where people were running into trouble. The warm up wasn’t ideal for Max – with five jumps and 10 riders in, it was tricky to approach every jump on a decent turn to prevent him just running at each one but learning how to deal with him in the warm up, ‘awake but not tired’ as another competitor’s Mum put it was part of another aspect of the Event: E for Education. We were there to compete and I was there to learn: Max is an old hand at this after all.
The final phase was what I was most looking forward to, despite some challenges that I felt we’d meet out on the course, including a daunting-looking owl hole and a confusing route through several different jumps from the other classes. Sadly, we only made it a fifth of the way around: having had a good run out of the start box and good jumps over the first two, Max refused at the third fence – a big-looking chair in dark wood. The light was starting to go, so perhaps he struggled to read it, and after a discretionary third attempt and an encouraging ‘You can do it!’ from the fence judge, we were over. We didn’t quite have a good feeling towards the fourth and although I thought Max would find it no more challenging than an identical fence in the warm up we had two refusals. The fence judge checked to see if we could carry on but that was that under the rules so we reached another E – one that now sits on my BE record: Eliminated. If nothing else, we had a representative day out on the field – it wasn’t a magic clear with a flukey easy ride. We didn’t fall so it felt disappointing more than anything – at least we were spared a long walk home, and we were both fit and good to go another day.
And that takes us neatly to another E – for Ely, when we’ll have another crack at a ODE at Little Downham on Saturday (3 October). I’ll try to get writing up sooner next time – watch this space for news of how we get on at our last Event of the season; it must mean that there’s a birthday looming…