Sarah & Hugo - The first DOUBLE CLEAR!!
After six looooong weeks it’s FINALLY time for another event report as me and not-so-baby Hugo headed off to Central Scotland Horse Trails at Dalkeith to tackle Hugo’s first BE90!
Our tale begins last night as non-horsey other half and I decided we would go and walk the course in what seemed like the dead of night (how on earth is it dark by 9.30pm ALREADY?!?). As we reached the end of the course I talked through the track in great detail speaking a dialect which might as well have been parcel-tongue to NHOH, and it was here, seeing his very confused face at the phrase “getting him underneath me” (shouldn’t the horse always be underneath you?) that I had my epiphany!
All this time I’ve been talking about how Hugo’s going to react to things; “Hugo might find that spooky”, “will Hugo go in the water”, “what’s Hugo going to think of this”, when all along I should have been thinking about me and what I was doing! Hugo will only react as well as I ride- if my riding is on point then he’s performance will be on point (in theory). So I decided that in the most unselfish way, that today was going to be all about me!
So with a new tactic and a fresh wave of determination I headed to bed only to be woken up before my alarm by the rain lashing against my window - did I sleep in and wake up in November?! Alas no, it’s still August and I’m getting up to go Eventing in a bloody monsoon.
SuperGrooms Mum and Dad arrived at the stables and actually offered to reimburse me for my entry fee if it meant they didn’t have to go!! But I ploughed on and ignored their “it will probably be cancelled anyway” remarks, finished my plaiting and loaded the tack into the car. It was so wet that my dad actually reversed the trailer up to the barn door to load so we didn’t get soaked! On the journey I kept pointing out that it looked brighter up ahead but I thing I was clutching at straws by that point!
We arrived, number collected, and tacked up completely inside the trailer and just at that the Scottish weather gods took a small amount of pity on me and turned the water off ever so slightly! His dressage was a great improvement this time- no spooking and really forward into the bridle. I would say his head was a little high and our downwards transitions were fairly/very abrupt but I was thrilled with him! Sadly his mark didn’t quite reflect the test we rode, for a 37 in a pretty harshly marked section. But marks aside - I saw genuine progress and have loads to work on going forward!
A little bit of a wait before SJ meant Hugo chilled in the trailer while I walked the course and watched a good few riders jump. By this point in the day the warm up was essentially a bog and the take off off/landings were pretty cut up. There was poles flying left, right and centre and although I wasn’t worried about the fences, I was a little anxious that he might slide into a fence and lose his confidence, this being his first 90 run.
However, I manned up, tacked up and warmed up a slightly over excited Hugo who’s head was often between his knees with his shoulders coming higher and higher as he dropped his signature move - ‘the bronk’! But I kicked through it, tried not to mow anyone down, popped a couple of jumps and headed into the arena.
And what a round he produced- so sure footed, careful and most importantly, rideable! He kept his cool and tried his heart out for a beautiful clear round and I was ECSTATIC! Even if the XC went tits up, my boy had done me proud already!
So a quick change and off we hacked to the XC (anyone who’s been to Dalkeith knows just how far away the XC start is from the trailers!). He was chilled but forward and there was only two before us in the warm up so I was in the start box (and it was dry, woohoo!) being counted down from 5 in no time.
And off he flew - no napping again, hurrah- and out onto the course! He took a flier at number five which was the dreaded ditch/brush, which left his rubbish jockey behind but I soon caught up and we were flying through the wood to the next. He was making the step up to 90 feel like absolutely nothing- so much talent in those four little hooves.
Over the next few fences we went and soon we were at the water (those of you who have been following us this year will know that the water is our nemesis!). It was a log, three strides into the water then out and a sharp left turn to a brush which was high at one side with a lower side to jump through. It was a big ask compared to what he’s come across in the 80s, so I was determined to ride like a pro and give him the best shot at understanding it. Over the log he popped and a little teeter round the edge of the water but no step back meant we were safe (aaaaaah, he was in!) and then we picked the canter back up and he focused on the brush straight away! He flew it like it was nothing!!! I whooped and cheered - WHAT A STAR!! We galloped the rest of the course making it feel easy and we finished the course with MASSIVE smiles and honestly I had a little tear because I was so blooming proud!
A muddy walk back to the trailer, a cool down and a million pats and kisses for Hugo concluded out soggy day eventing. What a day! All our hard work was finally paying off, his brain clicked into place and he realised that he LOVED his job. I wish I could bottle this feeling and open it whenever I feel demotivated because it’s days like these that make the blood, sweat, tears, permanent zombie/ tired state of mind worth it!
The cherry on top of an INCREDIBLE day was that out of 41 starters, little Hugo and I finished the day with a pink frilly in 5th place! In his first ever BE90! What on earth?!? I love this little man to bits and I cannot wait for the next one! Although maybe a little less moist - I’m not sure my breeches will ever be white again!
Photo of Georgia and I wearing our matchy matchy Burgundy Performance Skin