So, today is the day we set off for the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Grassroots Championships! I am a massive mixture of excitement and nerves. Sleep has gone out of the window since I saw the course photos and video a couple of nights ago. I now go to bed visualising how best to ride skinny brushes and dreaming of how fabulous it will be to gallop towards Badminton House and fly over some of the bigger brush fences.
Monty has got to be as ready as he’ll ever be now. We had our last SJ lesson with Chris Burton on Wednesday and he was on top form. Chris has really upped our game and we are now jumping BE Novice level courses in our lessons and warming up over some meaty oxers which is working brilliantly to get Monty tucking those front feet out of the way as you can see in the picture above. I hope that we are now as prepared as possible for the SJ phase and just have my fingers crossed that Monty picks his feet up when it really counts.
I don’t have access to a long arena at home and sadly my plans of taking Monty to our local Equestrian Centre to hire their long grass arena have been thwarted by a sudden wet spell so we have been limited to practicing the dressage test in our short arena at home. I figure it should actually be easier in the big arena and it didn’t do us any harm preparing for the BD Winter Regionals like this as we ended up winning those with a personal best score on the first time I’d ever ridden the test in a full sized arena. I really believe preparation is the key to getting a good performance but sometimes we just have to make do with what we’ve got and hopefully it won’t adversely affect us on the day.
Monty had a routine visit from the physio yesterday so is currently enjoying a few quiet days. Or rather, that’s what he’s meant to be doing – clearly he is feeling rather well judging by the acrobatics being performed in the field at dinner time this evening! The physio said he was looking great and has given us a work plan for the last few days so that hopefully he is in tip top condition and raring to go by Wednesday.
We are not doing dressage until halfway through Wednesday morning so changed our travel plans to avoid taking Monty up a day early. We will now set off on Tuesday morning in time to get there around lunchtime, let Monty take in the atmosphere and walk the amazing cross country course. I am so excited to be riding over the grounds of Badminton. It is going to be the experience of my life and no matter what happens I am over the moon to be going there with the most amazing and special horse. I didn’t ever imagine we would get to this stage when I bought him 3.5 years ago not having the first clue about Eventing. He has allowed me to live dreams I never realised I had and I predict there will be many tears when I cross that finish line on Wednesday.
We have been on an emotional roller coaster the last few years but I feel honoured to own such an amazing, plucky, honest little horse and I can’t wait to hear everyone cheering us on round Badminton.
A huge thank-you to everyone who has helped me get to this stage and also to British Eventing, Mitsubishi Motors and Badminton for allowing the Grassroots Championships to be held at such a prestigious venue. Wish us luck!