For those of you who think that dressage can be a bit staid at times....read on!...
We set off on Wednesday before the Nationals with 2 lorries and a car. I had had to ride all the horses that where to be left behind that morning, whilst Mum and Sarah, my groom loaded the lorries with clothes, feed, rugs, numnahs - you name it we needed it! We left at 1pm with horses on board and got to Stoneleigh for 2.30pm. On arrival we had to get the three horses stabled and settled and then park the lorries and organise all the kit ready for the morning. We then rushed back to tack up Nobbie and Rubin up for the horse walk, which is a 45 min slot during which you are allowed to walk the horses in amongst the main arenas to show them all the sights etc. As both horses needed time in there , it was a bit of a rush!
We were feeling so organised having achieved all of the above and where just about to enjoy a bit of social dining with our clients and our groom in the gazebo, when Barnsley my dog and a sheepdog had a fight, I tried unsuccessfully to part them so my Father, Robert came to my aid only to end up having the end of his finger bitten off... Poor Dad! Mum took him to the hospital at Warwick having to leav e the party to look after the wonderful lasagne which was in the oven! True to form the NHS had Mum & Dad waiting for hours - but thankfully they saw the funny side and ended up giggling. Mum & Dad got back to the show ground at midnight only to find that it was locked up so they had to find their way in through the gates at the other side of the showground , which took them a while and meant that they where too late for lasagne.
Dad was referred to Coventry hospital the next morning at 8 am so I lost my " plaiter " (Mums are so useful!) and my " trainer " (Dad is such a help from the ground) . I had decided to ride Rubin early in the morning and do a second arena walk. After Rubin was worked in I had to have a lie down as a migraine took hold . Rubin had a good draw in the running being 3rd or 4th from the end in the Elementary, and by the time I was back on board, Mum & Dad where back from the hospital (without surgery but with permission to go to Sheffield on return home because they had wanted to keep Dad in until they could find a slot for him but it may have taken all day, and he was not having any of that with the Nationals running! ). The heavens then opened and we had 3 inches of rain in about 15 mins, with lightening and thunder to boot , Rubin and I carried on working in, but just as I was about to go in the officials sent us back to the stables because the judges wipers ran out of battery and they could not see the tests! A rather anxious wait was had, as we were not sure when we would be called back to do the test and if so how much warm-up I would be allowed to do - still it did give me the chance to change my clothes - my boots had actually filled up with water it had rained so hard! Pulling them off was pretty hysterical! It was a huge rush to do all this and then get back to the ring as 15 mins later we went in. Rubin did a really nice test, especially as he must have been pretty fed up with everything by that time . The team returned to the yard cleaned Rubin up and wrapped him up to make sure he was warm and grabbed a cup of tea whilst waiting for the scores. No sooner had we sat down we found the stables had flooded so we had to empty and re - lay the beds for all three horses ! No rest for the wicked! Rubins score for his test was 66.06% meaning he came 11th - we where pleased with him . It was then Van Halens turn to be ridden ; he was a little naughty at first but he coped with the huge amount of horses in the working in area , and went beautifully in the end. Meanwhile my husband, Jamie had arrived, but not without incident - the tyre on the car had blown on the motorway and he had nearly lost the car! Thankfully he was in one piece! We also had a phone call from home to say that a large ash tree which is just in front of our stables had been hit by lightening! Thankfully no horses or people hurt!
Next to go was Noblesse (Nobbie). He also had a good draw , 6 from last, and thankfully the weather had brightened. He worked in beautifully. The ring entry has two impressive gate posts and as he went through them a photographer who was hiding behind the gatepost with a big lense startled Nobbie and he bolted for a few yards, which was a shame and meant that he took a while to settle . I got control as quickly as possible and things started to settle and look good, his way of going was great, but we made a few mistakes relating to the place where the man had frightened him, he finished on a score of 64.15%. The general feeling in the team was that the test deserved more and there where big differences in the judges marks, but overall I was very pleased with both horses. Mum & Dad then went back to hospital and tried to have the surgery done.. but no luck , only serving to have them miss supper again..and much to Dad's dissappointment, the wine.
Friday morning dawned with Rubin due in the Novice, and second to go at 7.47am. He was looking great, he worked in really well, and did a lovely test in the sunshine , scoring 67.9.%. As this class did not finish till 12.37pm Mum decided to take Dad back to the hospital to have surgery. When the results where out Rubin came 10th, and so we went back in for the prize giving and a rossette . So pleased - he is such a talented little horse . Nobbie was due in at 16.10pm. But the news from the hospital was that there was no surgery as yet - so once again I was minus my eyes on the ground. The weather just held for Nobbie's test which was better than Thursday's test, meaning we came 15th and qualified for the kur. We fetched Dad back from the hospital, where he had been for 8 hours and still no surgery and went to the drinks party and then onto a restaurant (the fridge in the lorry had died during the day and the food was a bit suspect).. Jamie and I went in our car and had another blow out - this time on the new tyre (it was a nail ) - and we ended up having to change the tyre with the light of the mobile phone.. it was a good meal though !
Saturday morning, I rode Van Halen, and met with Albion Saddles at the stables to check the saddles, and they added stuffing to Van Halens..the rest were ok..great saddles. Jamie took Dad to hospital, again, only to come back with a promise that the surgeon would phone and he would have to go straight in, well no surprises, the phone rang just as Nobbie was going in..but Dad was determined to see the kur which we had done new music for which was just as well as we did a lovely test , getting 9 for canter pirouettes, with no spooks - perfect ! We came 9th overall and after horses where bedded down it was definately time for food and wine.
Sunday, saw us competing in the young horse class. Van Halen was due in at 8.39am. There was a lot of horses working in again and he coped really well. He went as well as he could do at this stage and got a great score of 40.2 ( it is a different system of scoring in this class. 40.2 is equal to 80% PLUS ) . He came 10th in what was a very strong class and was in the prize giving . His owner , Helen was very happy and tearfull.
We started to load a little of the gear for return, but could not resist having a look at the auction of young mares in foal.. with the outcome that we bought lot 9 "Wolinda " (pronounced "Volinda") ..whose sire is Florencio and who is in foal to Sorrento (Sandro Hit). As we had the stallion Van Halen on board the lorry , we could not bring her home with us so a client very kindly brought her for us, and she is at a stables near us for now. She is a lovely chestnut and it was a nice ending to an eventful nationals ! We are sure she will be back there one day winning rossettes and hopefully so will her baby.
Hannah is an International 2* dressage rider and trainer. She has competed internationally for Britain as a Pony, Junior, Young and Senior rider. She was a past talent spotted winner and young rider champion and holds
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4th Nov 2006.