What a fabulous experience the Mitsubishi Motors Cup was!
As you know, we’ve not had the best build up. I’d not really managed much cantering before the Mitsubishi Motors Cup and we’d only manged trot around the tracks at home. Schooling had been limited to my weekly lessons at Appin Equestrian Centre, so I must admit I felt pretty unprepared!
The Sunday before the Mitsubishi Motors Cup came around very quickly, and with the lorry loaded and the girls delivered to Granny’s, we set off on the road to Gloucestershire! The trip was okay but long, and ten hours later we arrived at Badminton Estate! I cried, in fact I did quite a lot of crying in those first 24hrs! I just couldn’t believe I was about to ride in the Mitsubishi Motors Cup. Indi bounced off the lorry, she loves a party and the moment she saw the white ropes she pulled to find out what the fuss was all about. The stables were great, bright and airy and it was lovely because there were only a few of us there on Sunday night which meant we could take everything in without too many people around. As I wasn’t doing my dressage until Tuesday, Adrian and I had a couple of glasses of prosecco!
The next day I took Indi out for a hack and to have a bit of a canter. After, I walked the course and what a course it was! It was superb and so cleverly designed and not too big but asked lots of questions. The feeling as I walked into the lake area was amazing! It was so exciting. There was a lot going on with lots of flags and marquees, and it was a long course, much further than anything we’d done before and without having much galloping at home I was a bit worried about her tiring at the end.
In the evening Mary my super Chiropractor came down to give Indi a check over. This was hugely beneficial because she was off her hay and quite tucked up. But once Mary had been she began eating straight away. She’s a pretty laidback horse but there was a lot going on which made her a little more tense than normal.
She worked in well ahead of our dressage test, I even managed to get her mane plaited perfectly with styling wax! Once her mane was under control Mary had a quick session with the pair of us. She straightened me up and calmed my nerves and I went into my test knowing I’d done everything I could to ride a good test. We did a pretty decent job, but I was not quite as accurate as I should have been. We broke in the canter which was entirely my fault, I was having a great time and didn’t use my leg. So that was a rather big dent in our marks. However, it’s not just a dressage test and we pulled ourselves together, after all we’d just ridden a dressage test at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup! That afternoon we headed for a course walk with Nick Gauntlett. I’d had a lesson with him a few years ago which was fantastic, so I was keen to walk with him. He was so helpful and informative.
My Mum and Dad arrived Tuesday evening with the girls, Rosie’s eyes were out on stalks, she was in pony heaven! I did a quick course walk with everyone and then we headed to the drinks reception at the lake. This was another amazing experience especially when Adrian spotted Mary King, one of my heroes. He ended up having a casual chat with her and did eventually remember to mention me, but they were happily chatting about life in Devon until I got the courage to say hello! We spoke about eventing and being a mother and then being the mum of an eventer. Emily joined us soon after so of course we had to have photo.
The next day was Flossie’s first birthday oh and show jumping and cross country day. We were woken up at 6:00am by the wind rocking the lorry so hard I thought it was going to blow over! The rain was extremely heavy and it did cross my mind whether the competition would go ahead, but luckily it dried up. Indi and I had another tune up with Mary in the morning. I’m not the best show jumper, I tend to get a bit flappy and distract Indi somewhat, so the exercises Mary gave me really helped me focus and relax. One of the most exciting things was that my Uncle who bred Indi and my Auntie and Cousin came to see her compete. As a family, we have invested so much in Indie and it meant so much to have the whole team there together. By the time we tacked up for the show jumping the warm up was like a ploughed field so I only jumped a couple of warm up fences then just walked on a loose rein outside, not the best prep but I’m lucky that she doesn’t need much work beforehand. They had moved the jumps to fresh ground at the start of our class which made the ground in the arena a little better. My little pocket rocket jumped clear! It was a little untidy in places, but there were very few clear rounds and we were one of them!
Before the cross country, Adrian and I took Indi back to the lorry to get her boots on. This was probably one of my favourite moments, just the three of us. We took time to take it all in and enjoy it. She was focussed, she knew what was coming next. The start was quite a distance from our lorry so we took our time getting over there. I knew I needed to preserve as much energy as possible as the ground was pretty deep and I wasn’t sure how fit she was. With a quick canter round and a few jumps, we headed to the start and by this point the ground was heavy. The first few fences were straight forward. But then we arrived at the Lake and it was busy. There were so many people there and the atmosphere was amazing. She can be quite strong but she came back to me beautifully and popped through the elements perfectly. It was the most amazing feeling and everyone cheered!
She was actually pretty much spot on at every fence. Although taking a long one at the footbridge was fun. I had to hold on pretty tight! This was also true for the coffin when I lost my stirrup at the first part and had to hang over parts B and C. Luckily, I stayed on and pulled myself back together in time for the next fence. The only fence we really made a mistake at was the last, but that was it, we’d gone clear! Unfortunately we got six time faults which dropped us from 12th to 35th but I finished with a happy horse who wasn’t exhausted and I wanted to do it all over again! After walking her off and a quick check from Mary we started Flossie’s party and we finally got to celebrate.
You would think that was the end of the excitement, but no, Mum and Dad took the girls home on Thursday so Adrian and I could pack up the lorry and have a day to enjoy the atmosphere and to watch the top three at the Chat Zone. A few hours later we were walking through the deserted grandstand when a little lost dog appears. The next thing we hear a voice calling, and who should appear but Lucinda Green! The ultimate eventing legend, six times Badminton winner and real eventing Mum. I couldn’t believe it, the next thing I knew we were standing in the main arena having a photo with her! That was the cherry on the top of the most incredible experience of my life.
I couldn’t have asked for anything more. With all the ups and downs, the rubbish weather, riding in the dark, the snow and balancing children, work and family, it was all so worth it. The whole experience was unforgettable. Thank you to everyone at the Mitsubishi Motors Cup who made it feel so special and memorable. Huge thank you to Mary for keeping us in tip top condition and keeping my nerves under control and to all those who helped with training and to my amazing sponsors. But mostly to my family as without them I wouldn’t have been able to fulfil my dream of competing at the most prestigious event in the world. Yes, it might have been the Mitsubishi Motors Cup and not Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials but to a horsey Mum from Scotland it was the ultimate experience and I will make sure I tell my girls that if you work hard and aim big your dreams really can come true.