Sarah & Hugo - Breaks Sold Separately

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Happy Monday ladies and gents – grab your coffee and take a break because it’s time for another Sarah and Hugo event report. Be warned, it’s a long one- maybe too long? Anyway, here we go…

I’ve been very lucky this season to have been allocated very reasonable, mid-day times for all my events which has given me the luxury of never being up too early or home too late. However, I knew my lucky streak was due to finish sooner or later - we are talking about Eventing after all! So, I resisted the urge for a Friday night wine, popped off to wash my hair (I’m now very lucky to be sponsored by Jill Smillie Hairdressing so I do have to look semi-presentable in my Vlogs #VloggingLife) and was in bed early with my 3.50am alarm looming ominously in the background.

I was up and in the bathroom by 4.10am which I thought was impressive (I only snoozed twice), with the cat meowing like a banshee at my heels, ecstatic that she wasn’t the only one roaming the house like a loon before the sun was up.

5.05am I was in the car and off to the stables; I had 45mins to feed Hugo then plait and remove any sh*t stains that may have appeared overnight. I also dragged SuperCob to the field in the pitch black which he wasn’t overly thrilled about, but I suspect he would have been even less thrilled to have been abandoned in his stable all day. Mum and Dad rolled into the yard just before six and caught Hugo by surprise; he can usually hear our big juggernaut of a Land Cruiser coming a mile off, but we have recently upgraded to a silky smooth 3.5tonne lorry and were living the high life today on it’s first major outing.

Hugo likes the finer things in life and didn’t think much of slumming it in a trailer so needless to say, he loads much better into the lorry. So, all aboard and we hit the dusty trail at 6.15am – only 15 minutes behind schedule which is pretty good going for me. The uncertainly of whether the road into Frenchfields was closed or not made our journey slightly longer as we took a ridiculous and unnecessary detour, but arrived fully intact and none the worse of our backroad jaunt. Number collected, a toilet stop then a quick course walk confirmed that the course was not huge but there were a few questions for us to tackle with it only being Hugo’s second BE90.

All season I’ve been well down the running order for dressage and by that point they are always running early so I seem to end up arriving in the warm up with only one or two to go in front of me. Now, I know that I technically don’t have to trot down the centre line until my allocated time, but I like to do everything I can to keep those judges happy, so if I can allow them to finish and get home ten minutes early then I recon it goes in my favour. This in mind I gave extra time for warming up but was it not the only blooming day they were running behind?!? Typical. So, my warm up was too long AND it was muggy and humid, but I was constructive and did LOADS of stretching down on a long rein in walk and trot to loosen him up and get him relaxed and swinging through his back.

Pity that I rode like an actual lemon in the test wasn’t it? What in heavens name I was doing I will never know – I was obviously a bit too relaxed by that point and forgot to ride him up into the bridle. Never mind, Hugo didn’t put a foot wrong even though I wasn’t helping at all so lots of pats at the end for him.

We had zero time between any phases, so it was a quick change into our martingale and boots then off to the show jumping. Those of you who have read my previous reports will remember this is when we like to show our scope – not by putting the jumps really high but rather by bronking around the warm up, constantly apologising to my fellow competitors. However, the relaxing in the dressage obviously helped as we only bronked once today as a friend cantered over the last fence towards us and Hugo obviously thought it was play time!

After a really positive warm up we headed into the ring and eagerly awaited the bell. He jumped the first half of the course with incredible amounts of energy and scope – he could easily have cleared a Novice track with this canter – however perhaps a little too exuberant as by number six he had started to get away from me ever so slightly. I took a pull on the corner before a long run down to the spread at number seven but unfortunately once we got there Hugo’s back legs slipped from underneath him on take off and we clattered through it. Confidence slightly battered he did so well to re-group and continue, just taking the two poles from the final double with us as the stride wasn’t quite right and the confidence just wasn’t there to adjust. I’ve watched the video 1000 times, and nothing went dramatically wrong on the approach to number seven, it was just one of those things, so we put it behind us headed for the fun bit.

We had another slip on the approach to a little house in the warm up which led to a very uncharacteristic stop, so I said to my Dad that if he wasn’t confident on course I would just call it a day and come home- he is still new to this and the last thing I want is for him to get a fright. But I really needn’t have worried, he came out that start box like a man on a mission! We were steady over the first three and then we showjump-cantered down the first hill to eliminate the risk of slipping into the fence at the bottom. After that I let him gallop and we had the ride of our lives – he tackled the combinations with ease including his first on-course encounter with a step up. We did have a sticky look into the ditch (the photos are hilarious) but scrambled over it and recovered in time for the skinny ‘C’ element then continued to finish full of gallop, our confidence bump in the show jumping LONG behind us.

I was absolutely thrilled, beaming from ear to ear and good boy-ing at the top of my lungs as I had done all the way round - I’ve no idea when I turned into this vocal mess on the XC course but I’m sure the fence judges enjoyed my constant commentary. The score didn’t matter one bit but as we had ridden to our first minute marker in collected canter I was very surprised to hear that we were 20 seconds TOO FAST?! What on earth, I know he’s got long legs, but this boy is running at Novice speed already!!

I am thrilled to bits with him – okay it wasn’t a double clear like we managed at Dalkeith but in a way it was much more impressive because he got a fright in the show jumping but was mature enough to recover and go on to finish strong and confident. Plus, it was definitely worth the early start as we even managed to miss the rain which in Eventing world (in September) is nothing short of a miracle!!

P.S. excuse my face in the photo – I am clearly mid “Good Boy”


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