Published by Eventing Connect
I grew up horse mad. Diseased with the poxy things. All I could think of was eventing-I remember (vaguely) watching the greats of yesteryear tackling Badminton,and building my own Badminton in granny’s back yard with her clothes props and flower pots. It was many years before I got a chance to partake in a real event with an actual horse,but when my time came I was fairly determined to make it count. Unfortunately,my determination far surpassed any actual ability and this combined with a succession of useless/deranged/vastly-unsuitable-for-humans-to-interact-with types of horses meant that it was a pointless endeavour from the off. But I was determined. So.
It was the 21st May in 2011 and I was heading to Wexford eventing with two homebred horses. One was Nothing Concluded, running in the prenovice. The other was Nothing Better B and he was in the intro. It was raining on the long drive down,but not normal rain. In Ireland we have all sorts of types of rain. We have soft rain,heavy rain,sideways rain,round corners rain and a misting rain. Misting rain is the very worst. It is all encompassing and comes from all directions simultaneously. Everything you are and own will be saturated at once and take months to dry. And that was the sort of rain I was driving in. I travelled on hopeful of some weather respite-by myself with two horses and a jeep and horsebox would mean doing everything outside. Surely the rain couldn’t keep up all day? Yeah….. I did both dressage tests which were ok. The intro horse was massive and a bit of a pig so he went accordingly,but the prenovice horse was quite restrained by his usual standards. He show jumped clear as usual and the intro horse had 4f. There were about 35 horses between my two rides and as I squelched my way to the start box on my prenovice horse,I had to ask someone to tighten my girth. The straps were so sodden and my gloves so wet that I couldn’t get a grip on them at all. The horse had a class round xc until the second last fence,which was a turn back to a roll top on a mound. As he turned-and despite massive pencil studs-he totally lost his back end and almost fell. He popped the last fence but as I walked home,I knew that he was going to be in bother tomorrow. He finished 4th,but I was so upset for him that it was zero consolation. I just about managed to wash him off,do his legs and put him away before having to go on the intro horse. I was soaking wet,frozen,still unable to pull my sodding girth and had zero enthusiasm for this ride. The horse was weird about ditches and I was about two feet and five stone too small for him as it was,so I was dreading the impending ditch on the course.i needn’t have worried,because the stupid bugger never made it that far. He galloped up a hill,jumped two fences in the woods and one on the way out. He felt fine. He had big studs in and I was going carefully. I had a good stride into the fence. It remains a great mystery to me then,why he landed after he fence and fell straight down as if he had been shot. I don’t quite know what possessed me,but I got back on and carried on. In the dim recesses of my brain,I knew it wasn’t allowed but I had had ENOUGH of today and he was going to at least school his way home. Yeah. No. He scraped his way to the ditch,spat it out completely and I had to walk home anyway. I managed to get finished up and I drove home,utterly despondent and questioning why I was even bothering. It’s so hard by yourself-always by yourself-my horses live in cow pens and my arena floods regularly. I can’t do roadwork unless I travel and I don’t live near any decent events. Up until now,these things were challenges. Now they were reasons to quit.
As predicted,the super prenovice horse gave himself a good twist and wrench and he didn’t reappear until much later that season. The intro horse…..well now. I took him xc schooling and he said no. At everything. I sort of got him going and managed to come 5th at his next event,but soon after it became clear that I’d never ride him. I gave him to a friend of mine who is a rugby player as well as a show jumper,and he got on just fine with the horse after an initial discussion about the terms and conditions. The horse actually sold very well to America and you could have knocked me down with a feather when the bastard went advanced. That’s horses I guess,not every horse is made for you nor you for him. A final sting in the tail from that awful day was receiving a €50 fine for remounting without seeing the doctor. My husband was furious with me…..
I was starting to fall out of love with the sport I loved so dear as a rider and I started to enjoy showjumping more. Eventing is still my first love to watch and learn from,to respect and admire. I think the future of the sport is quite uncertain and it’s hard to see where it can go from here,but let’s hope for many good days of safe sport ahead.