Last week, after a two year break I did two events in four days on my unicorn moving up a level since our last time out in 2017. It was great fun but as usual we learned a few things along the way….
- If you are going to drive 3 + hours each way to an event bring a friend.
- If you still like someone after six or more hours together in a car, you are definitely friends
- When adding your route to a maps app make sure ‘avoid motorways’ is unticked
- It doesn’t matter how many lists you make you will always forget something
- However many studs you think you need, buy twice that many
- It is not just horses who need electrolytes and water – drink water if you don’t want to look like a raisin the next day
- never underestimate how terrifying it can be if a flower almost touches your horses leg in a dressage test
- The camera adds ten pounds to the rider and takes at least 10cm off the height of a fence. The giant wooden chasm you had to jump over in real life will always look up to your knee in photos.
- if you ask if you should bring a waterproof rug and your friends says ‘No, it wont rain’ – it will definitely rain. It will rain a lot
- The only thing more of a pain in the swiss than returning from XC soaked to your knickers is trying to wrangle studs out of the feet of a horse who is determined to eat grass in torrential rain
- The flimsier your footwear the more times a horse will try and stand on you with studs in
- When packing spare clothes include socks and underwear unless you like driving home with a wet ass.
- Nothing feels as good as a warm and dry change of clothes after getting soaked.
- When changing in your horsebox make sure your horse cant nip your bum.
- Riders going through adrenaline crash who have not eaten in about six hours do not make healthy food choices.
- When it comes to travelling horses while noise is a concern, silence is suspicious.
- It doesn’t matter how neat and organised your jeep was on the way there, on the way home it will be a chaotic mess of mud / sweat / hair covered stuff that no longer even fits
- Nothing that leaves home white comes home white
- It doesn’t matter how many times you swear you will, no one is every fresh enough after getting home to clear out the horsebox or jeep the same evening when they get home
- It doesn’t matter how many times you swear you will clean out the horsebox and jeep the next day, it will be at least three days later.
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- Ignore excruciating and ongoing pain and stiffness blaming lack of fitness / getting old / an old injury but call the physio, vet and backman at the first sign of mild discomfort in the horse
- Keep horses teeth maintained twice yearly but avoid our own dentist unless the dental pain is so bad that it can’t be cured by whiskey and / or difene
I love doing product reviews. I am a big fan of Janni Bars already – they are a local small company who specialise in environmentally friendly and plastic free beauty products for humans, horses and dogs.
I currently use several of their bars already – the after work bar to bathe my horses after a hard work session, the bright white shampoo bar for washing their white legs before a show and the Avocado Scrub soap on my hands. I also love the mojito scrub for my shower – it smells incredible!
When I am teaching show jumping or cross country I have a mantra I always bang on about. Why? Well the answer is two- fold. Firstly if you are going to be a coach you need to have your own philosophy on things and your own way of explaining things (Drive that bus Christa!), otherwise sure we are all just going to stand there bored reciting lines from a book. I have a list of my own choice phrases some of which are only adult appropriate. Secondly, banging on about something is the only way it will penetrate the massive level of noise the average human hears daily and embed itself into their brain. When that happens you have some hope that it might be recalled by the rider when you are not there or in competition. I know it works as it is what most religions and the Irish educational system in the 90’s was based on. I can’t remember what I did last week but Jesus I can remember some amount of random stuff from school simply because it was drummed into me day in day out. I haven’t a clue for example who Zacchaeus is for example but there is a song in my head for the past twenty years from school that says he was a greedy little man.
As part of my recent blogging opportunity with Horseworldeu.com I was invited to pick some products to try out and review. Along with the Horseware Riding Tights, I also chose the Eskadron Competition number set. My reasoning for this was this was I felt another new innovative product.
Why the national championships?
Goals are personal and what matters to each rider really does depend on their own experiences. For me, competing successfully at the National Dressage Championships has meaning because when I first started proper dressage training a few years ago it seemed ridiculously unlikely that I would ever be good enough to be able to do it.
While I have focused on dressage and showing for the last number of years I actually used to event. I evented for a few years on the riding club circuit in the intermediate grade. I used to event whatever I was allowed to sit on. My biggest challenge was a chestnut mare ex racer who went like a bullet cross country with her head between her legs. In the show jumping she also went like a bullet but would either jump clear or turf me off. I used to be terrified as the speed had my eyes streaming but after a few events, some of which we won I finally had control of her. At our last event together we would have won the national championships, having led from dressage only I was so delighted at having the mare going well I missed a fence cross country and had us eliminated. It was a hard lesson to learn and I was angry at myself as it was completely and utterly my fault. Sadly we never had a chance to try again as the mare died from a kick a few weeks later. I still think of her often – she thought me the power of positive riding and more importantly how to stick your bum like glue to a saddle. My last ever riding club event was in 2008 or 2009 on a gentleman of a gelding who at 21 years old still thought he was a young lad. We had done a few events together and he was so experienced at his job that all I had to do was steer him. At that last event, also the riding club championships our team placed second which was a lovely finish to my eventing adventures. It is safe to say that I had learned from past mistakes and did not omit a fence.
Aim to look professional, tidy and workmanlike.
Footwear – Adults long leather boots. (leather short boots and gaiters may be permitted, check rules of class). Adults cannot show in short boots only. Children under 12, short boots with jod clips. Children over 12, as per adults. Have your groom wipe your boots before you go in!
- Get used to being on a circle. You won’t be moving sideways at the greatest of ease any time soon. The circle is your friend, embrace the circle. Don’t go large around the arena – this does not go down well. If you have enough grasp of spatial relations to be able to ride a circle that is circle shaped (unlike me) this is a bonus.