Last weekend was absolutely wonderful. I was of course very nervous but definitely excited too. I love being part of a team, although I do worry about getting everything right!
It was fun to pack everything into the lorry and we had a surprisingly easy run up to Lincoln – six hours in total with only about an hour stuck in traffic. We arrived at lunch time, got the horses checked in and settled whilst our camp was set up, then sat down for lunch. It was very civilised!
My favourite part of the day was hacking the horses to stretch their legs and help us get our bearings. The competition has grown a bit since I was last there! I also walked the style jumping course which actually helped to settle my nerves – fear of the unknown is far worse than fear of the known. Plus, once I knew what I was facing I could visualise myself riding round the course – and getting it right!
The next morning it was all hands on deck to get the senior horses ready. Dressage was first for us so I went up to support my team and also managed to watch the first few style jumping rounds. These did not fill me with confidence as the first four riders all had refusals at the first fence and the first two were both eliminated by fence three. In reality though, it was really useful – it made me very determined to get over the first fence if I did nothing else.
Before long I was up on my horse and ready to go. Murphy can get worried and tense at shows but – apart from calling desperately for his friends – he felt remarkably relaxed. We were soon into the ring and saluting the judge – 0Murphy had to call out a greeting too!
Our round didn’t feel all that tidy – which matters in style jumping – and we got a couple of incorrect canter leads but we were at least jumping clear. Murphy had a good look at fence one but there was no way I was going to stop at it! After that he didn’t look at anything and was jumping beautifully
Then we came to the penultimate fence. We were only a couple of strides out when it blew over and we had to circle away whilst it was rebuilt. We jumped it on our second attempt but sadly knocked the last pole down. Its impossible to tell how much we were affected by the break in rhythm but I was nevertheless thrilled to have got round respectably.
Having waited for the class to finish I found that we had come 16th out of 50 in our arena and 30th out of 108 overall. I was delighted – at a national championship and my first attempt that wasn’t bad at all.
Sunday was another busy day helping our junior riders in their classes. It is great to be part of a team, where everyone supports each other and the delights of success are shared. The success wasn’t missing either – the lorry had a good decoration of rosettes and sashes for our long journey home. It was a wonderful weekend and I will be trying very hard to make it happen again.