So this weekend was really one of ups and downs. On Friday Merlot 🍷🐴left for her new home in the UK. Thanks to everyone who asked if I was ok – I am as sometimes you have to make tough decisions but when its for the right reason it’s the right decision. She has gone to a wonderful person and a great home and I wish them the very best success together.
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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Fresh after our Roland Tong clinic on Friday a couple of weeks back, Sammy was rather intrigued at being put back into the horsebox on Saturday. “Jumps Sammy” I promised as I bribed him up the ramp with a haylage net. We set off for Killossery for the Sarah Ennis eventing clinic but ground to a halt at the M50 on ramp which pretty much resembled a car park. I rang the venue who rather than saying oh well go home, said take your time we will make it work in another session which was really accommodating of them. We arrived an hour later to find the clinic had it’s own delays but we were ready to join a group of four other riders and get going in the indoor.
Given that its been what feels like ten weeks since pay day and it must be the 91st of January, last Saturday provided a well needed post Christmas social outing. 🍹🍾The evening organised with the Irish World Champion Silver medalists by the Eventing Ireland South Leinster region took place at the Osprey Hotel and did not disappoint. 😀 After feeding us, we were treated to an interview and Q and A session with High performance director of the Irish Eventing team, Sally Corscadden and the Irish riders – Cathal Daniels, Sarah Ennis, Sam Watson, Padraig McCarthy and Trish Ryan. 🐴 I had great seats just a few metres from the team and it was amazing to be sat so close to the riders I had cheered on at WEG. Declan Cullen compered the panel interview which was very informative. There were a few points I took away from it that I will definitely use when setting my own goals and plans for 2019 and beyond.
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.
My anxiety around competition was never really just about competition. It was a fear of the unknown, of lack of control, of new things. It started when I was a small child and if I was anxious about something I would feel sick and nervous. Things like exams, trying new things, bus trips. Over time it got worse and I was anxious before things I was actually looking forward to. The anxiety in turn caused illness as I have a sensitive stomach anyway so it got to the point that I was anxious of being anxious. I missed a lot of things because of it – sleep overs, the first day of pony camp, scouting trips. I was afraid to look forward to anything. My poor mother was tormented by it and had the patience of a saint at times especially when it came to high stress events such as the leaving cert (which I did on three Valium and about seven packs of polo mints a day). I managed miraculously to compete on horses as a teenager and adult. It was hard going – I used to meditate on the way over to try and calm myself down (yeah I was the odd ball), couldn’t eat and would be white as a sheet before a competition and exhausted afterwards.
- Always watch the 1 and 2* riders XC. No one gets it right every time but their ability to handle what comes up is what counts and gets them around. There was me having an asthma attack in case I got the wrong stride at a log when I saw someone get no stride at a massive combination, sit up, ride it with one stirrup and school a horse through clear – lesson learned!