If you’d have asked me this time last year what Splash and I would be working towards this winter, never in a million years would I say we would be heading to Badminton! In fact I only re-registered him with British Eventing in March this year with the idea to do a couple of local events and have some fun.
To add some context Splash and I had evented for three years up to BE100 before COVID hit, and I decided to take a step back from eventing and concentrate on the dressage which we both love. But fast forward 2.5 years and my Coach Sarah Oakden suggested it might put a smile on his face to do a bit of jumping again!
They were taking a lorry load up to Lindores Equestrian, our local XC schooling venue and I thought Splash might like a fun trip out. If horses could smile then my god, Splash had the biggest grin on his face… I think he thought Christmas had come early.
After that it only seemed fair to aim for a BE90 at our local event Forgandenny and to my complete shock we went and won it on a 21 dressage and double clear. That event qualified us for the Regional Final at Hopetoun where we finished 3rd and booked our ticket to the Badminton Grassroots Championships. I still have to pinch myself because everything seems to have happened so quickly. One minute our goal was the BD regionals and the next it was Badminton!
Although I do also need to add some balance to our season, because as many of you will be able to relate – the journey with horses is never straightforward and my returning confidence took a reality check in August.
We finished our season at Blair Castle Horse Trials where we did the BE90 class on the Thursday and it was most definitely a ‘learning day’.
Showjumping seems to be my nemesis and where I get the most nervous, and in the deep, holding mud, it was not a lot of fun for me or Splash! He wasn’t taking me into the fences and we both started thinking backwards which resulted in some fences down and a stop.
We completed but to be honest I would quite happily have put him back on the lorry and taken him home at that point but after my Coach, Sarah pointed out that it might be muddy at Badminton, and after a bit of self-chat I decided to put my brave pants on and see how he handled it!
We did pick up our first 20 penalties together on the XC, where I wasn’t able to half halt him enough and we glanced off at a corner, but apart from that he was fantastic round a course that was causing absolute carnage.
After a few hours of feeling pretty deflated I managed to pick myself up and focus on the positives. We now have a winter of training, preparation and planning to get us ready for Badminton. I know I need to get some help with my nerves, especially in the SJ so that’s the first thing on the list to arrange.
I’ve also got a meeting with Sarah and James at Team Oakden to plan out our winter training. This is something they do with all of their clients throughout the year, and it’s invaluable to keep us all focused on the end goal.
As I write this, Splash and I are off jumping tonight at our local centre Howe. They have weekly schooling nights and my plan is to get both of us there as much as possible over the winter, so I will let you know how we get on in our next blog, and update you on what our winter of training and prep is going to look like… Oh and I’m also off to buy a load of cotton wool and bubble wrap…!!!
Liz & Splash x x x
Photo credit: Action Replay