Friday, 24 April 2015

The Best Weekend!

Last weekend was awesome!

It was the weekend before my big birthday so I did loads of fun stuff.

On Saturday, I took Fern to Plymouth for some cross country (XC) schooling with my best friend, A.

She was awful and was really pushing my buttons. She obviously wasn't in the mood for jumping and was such hard work! Little Madam!!

On Saturday afternoon, I took the dogs up to Dartmoor to walk a XC course for a competition the following day.
I have to walk the course so I know the route and what each jump looks like so I am prepared and can ride each fence accordingly and know where I might have some problems.

Beautiful Dartmoor
I walked the 2' course and they were big! Very up to height and some were definitely up to about 2'6".

Walking the course on foot

Water jump - spot the dog testing the depth of the water for me!

Steps - aaargh!
I was terrified! I have been having dark thoughts for some time about taking BH and the thought of taking him round was filling me with dread - mostly because he's had so many problems with his legs over the last 6 years, I didn't want to break him and he's only seen solid fences once before because of his never ending leg problems!

These fences don't fall down when you knock them... and they were big... and BH doesn't have any experience.... Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me!

Helpers on an enormous jump! Chest height and easily 5 foot wide!
On Saturday evening, I had my birthday party at a local hotel. We had the most amazing meal and I had even made kiddies party bags for everyone which went down well haha!

The hotel has recently had some upgrades and WOW - their refurbished reception/bar area has got some beautiful big windows overlooking the bay and there was the most amazing sunset.
I got a huuuge birthday cake which was sooo yummy and it was just the best evening spending it with all my favourite people. 
Sadly my best friend S wasn't able to be there as she is in the forces and got posted abroad a couple of days previously.

Over dinner, my friend E convinced me to do the XC pairs class with her the following day.
We agreed to just trot round really steady and if I needed to pull up or miss a fence, I would. We just wanted to get round safely and carefully!

On Sunday, we made the hour long drive to the competition on the moors. E and I were both terrified.... We went and entered and got our numbers - no going back now!
BH was being an absolute cretin! Oh my days, that animal is an absolute nightmare when he's wound up.
The number of horses around and the fact he was actually somewhere other than home sent him bananas.
I decided it would be a wise decision to get his bridle on before letting him off the trailer or I'd never get it on.
After much battling, swearing and very nearly a total breakdown, I got his bridle on by building it around his head while he was trying to turn himself inside out whilst still confined to his stall in the trailer.... yay! 
Once off, he was just spinning around and being completely idiotic. It took 2 of us to get his saddle and boots on because he couldn't stand still. He was dripping with sweat before I even got on, he was so wound up.
Wild animal
I managed to get on after 282183615 attempts and then, bizarrely, felt quite calm! I can keep up better when I'm on board and maybe I had just accepted that death was probably imminent and I had come to terms with my fate. 

In the start box... terrified!
E and I went to the practise ring where everyone was going round in their pairs looking calm and in control.
E's horse is a bit of a problem horse sometimes as well so she went off on her own and BH just pranced around with lots of people admiring his from a safe distance! A couple of people asked me what breed he was - I assured them he certainly wasn't bred on purpose!!

I had taken my GoPro along but they wouldn't let me wear it which was a shame because it would have been hilarious!

E and I lined up in the start box and we were counted down. 3...2....1.... go!
So much for taking it steady! E shot out of the start box to the first fence and BH went crazy because he thought he was getting left behind! 
He galloped off and got quite close to E's horse - I thought he'd kill us at the first fence because he wasn't looking at what was ahead.

We leapt over the first fence and headed downhill to the 2nd. I had to yell to E to slow down because I was worried BH was going to slip as I had no control.
She popped over the second and shot off towards the 3rd. BH leapt over the 2nd like a kangaroo and then charged after her! 

BH the kangaroo!
I managed to turn him towards the 3rd without him slipping over.
We sailed over and E was already over the 4th.

Definitely not going to touch this one!
I thought I'd end up doing the huge part of fence 4 due to my lack of brakes but managed to get over safely.

Lack of steering and brakes!
E shot off over the 5th and BH was so out of control, I couldn't get him over the 5th in time so we had to circle and do it again.
I had managed to catch E's attention by yelling for her to slow down so she let me catch up before shooting off again.

Fence 5, take 2!
Fence 6 was bearable, fence 7 was on a slight downhill and BH was bowling along way too fast for my liking but there wasn't anything I could do to stop him.

We sailed over fence 7 like we were jumping around Badminton Horse Trials and I think it was about this point I stopped fighting him so much and just steered as best I could!

How big?!

The fear on my face!! No control!! 
We pinged over fence 8 and sailed over fence 9.

Fence 10 was a large brush - the horses are supposed to brush through the foliage on top but BH leapt over like a gazelle!

E and Gem leading us over fence 10

You're supposed to brush through the foliage BH... not clear it!
The next jump was the water jump - BH trotted over the crocodile and E's horse was hesitating slightly so we trotted through the water with her following.

Leading through the water
E took the lead again and we swerved through a stone gateway and past an old stone barn and sailed over fence 12.

Flying! Out of control!
Fence 13 was some tyres which BH flew over in hot pursuit of E.
If only E would slow down a bit, I would feel a lot safer than I do!! Her horse is much more experienced than BH so we could have done with some help!

Wait for us!
The ground was quite hard and this makes it slippy - OK if you've got control to be able to slow down a little and take corners carefully but BH was just going hell for leather and I was so worried he was going to slip over.

Fence 14 went by in a blur and we galloped on to fence 15 which had concerned me.
It was a solid, up to height jump on a downhill with a turn through a stone gateway just after it.
BH leapt over and then stumbled on landing and very nearly hit the deck.
I just about managed to stay on but I think that was because I had been sitting back and riding in the "brace" position the whole time!
We skidded along and round the gatepost, pausing for a millisecond to gather my reins up again before heading on to a simple brush fence at fence 16. 
E's horse had calmed down enough now that she offered me the lead over this one which we did with no trouble - I think BH was finally getting a little tired!

Fence 17 was a set of steps up - BH has never seen anything like this in his life so I had no idea what to expect here.
E went up first and BH leapt up the first step hot on her heels but then realised there was a 2nd step to do which he got up, but not very elegantly!
We then had a steep uphill climb to the next fence.

Fence 18 was nice and little so we took the lead and popped over it and headed towards fence 19 which was some really big tyres - definitely not 2'!!
E led over them and BH followed nicely - he was finally getting tired!!

Finally getting tired!
The last fence was a nice simple brush which E went over first and BH almost skipped out of the side but we managed to jump it then a final sprint to the finish line.

Over the last! Thank goodness!
I swear I didn't breathe the whole way round, I was so scared!
E and I were soooo glad to be over the line alive!
I was so proud of BH and had the best time ever even though I was so convinced he was going to kill us by being so out of control!
I was on such a high and it was such a buzz! I want to go again!

When we got back to the trailer he went back to being an absolute terror and I just got him in and headed home as E was leaving for her next class.

Back home, he went back in the field as calm as anything and was absolutely fine!
I was amazed he was so sound on his legs seeing as he'd not gone carefully or slowly at all.

On Tuesday evening, it had all caught up with him and he was really sore bless him.
He's on painkillers and off games for a few days until he starts looking better and the ground gets softer again!

I had THE. BEST. WEEKEND in a long time!
All my favourite people, my horses and dogs and doing super exciting fun stuff!

Let's do it again sometime!

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