Science Supplements Cup

Tuesday 4th May - Wednesday 5th May, 2021 #SSCup

Sarah Charnley: Preparation is Key

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Entry? Check. Horse passport in lorry? Check. Make a list of things to do and things to get? Definitely still to do! When you work full time and you are short staffed, trying to organise things outside of your job can feel as though you are juggling lots of balls! Let’s face it we compete for fun, not for profit or glory – well perhaps a little bit of glory.

I find making a list and ticking things off very therapeutic, as well as a practical way of ensuring that you don’t forget things. It makes me feel a little more organised and prepared. We are now less than a week away and all training has been going well. We have had flatwork session with event rider Ros Canter and a jump training session with Sophie Brown. Sophie completed here first four star at Burghley last year. I have seen her develop from a teenager and she has a great ability to give confidence when coaching.

Having got the confirmation text of entry and number, plus the excitement of receiving all the passes, it’s time to get our heads in gear and prepare for the main event. I like to make sure all the little details are covered, including timings for getting Etie and myself ready for each phase. I will be riding my dressage test on Tuesday around lunchtime. Etie is a very calm mare, but can be quite forward, so I intend to ride her early morning Tuesday, she will have a massage session from Jess Spalding and then with the help of Cath Hill and Alex Fishpool get her ready for the dressage. I like to have some time on my own to visualise riding through my test and to try and remember all the tops tips from Ros which is mainly ride every stride! I normally give Etie 30 minutes to warm up.

Excitement has been building over the past few weeks, especially when the course plan and photos came out. The memory of riding round the wonderful course in 2016 came flooding back, with people clapping as you cleared a fence. It is a brilliant feeling when you’ve completed the course and cross the finish line within the time! I will rider Etie again on Wednesday morning before getting ready to jump. I always dread the show jumping, but having been to a sports psychologist I feel much more confident with this phase and I know we can do it which makes all the difference. I just need to concentrate on the rhythm of the canter and make sure there is energy – hopefully it will be this simple on the day. I am hoping that Ros will be available to come over and warm me up, plus she has said that she’ll walk the cross country course with me. I am so grateful for her help but understand that she must concentrate on her own ride. By the time the cross country comes round I will have walked the course three or four times and at least once on my own, which will be early Wednesday morning.

My tummy is already starting to flip as I am writing this! I had hoped to report on a successful last training run, but alas that is not to be. Sadly, I have to report a lame pony. She felt a little footy in the dressage but still rode a fab test with a score of 28.8 at Novice level but she then came out of the lorry for the show jumping lame. My vet had travelled with her horse to the event, so she investigated and came to conclusion that it was likely to be in the foot. I am now just waiting for a prognosis from the farrier so fingers and toes crossed that I will be able to join you all next week! It just shows that you must be practical and open minded when dealing with animals, they throw in all sorts of ups and downs at you. Remaining positive, my preparations have been far better than a lot of others with so many events being cancelled this year. If I don’t get there to compete, whilst disappointing, both Etie and I will be back to continue our eventing carrier and at least I will be at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials grooming for Ros and the brilliant Allstar B.

So, all of you competing at this great Mitsubishi Motors Cup, good luck, have fun, enjoy it! For those of you staying to watch the four star event, give Ros and Alby a big cheer. I will also take this opportunity to thank British Eventing, the title sponsors Mitsubishi Motors and all the organisers, but above all the wonderful volunteers, who give up their time freely week in and week out whatever the weather, from us competitors, thank you!