Dad's Going Eventing!!
From the beginning to 4 weeks before the competition!
How this all began for us.
My Dad has always walked courses with my sister and I saying things like; “That’s nothing to worry about”, “Just keep him straight”, “Hold your line” and his all-time favourite “BOUNCY CANTER” (thanks to Nigel Taylor he will tend to repeat whatever has yelled at us in the last lesson). He has been unwavering in his belief that he could do it, he would always say “I’ll do a BE before I’m 60!” Well September 2016 he was turning 60 and while flicking through Facebook I come across a post to raise money for Hannah, I’m sure we’re not the only family to have watched and be touched by Hannah’s struggle, admiring her bravery and commitment. So this call for Wobbly riders that would like to do a BE was perfect, I send the link to my mum and sister (Dad doesn’t use Facebook) and we all couldn’t imagine a better way to help raise some money while Dad having the change to fulfil his pledge, so we registered.
A bit about Dad
Now Dad AKA Tony, had never ridden despite hours of watching, grooming, mucking out, poo pick, being the anchor when we back youngest, walking round the village with young horse and young riders….. Granddaughter Evie, Building Show Jumps and even converting our lorry. So He has experience just not on top!
He also has a few “aliments” he use to play rugby and broke his neck over 30 years ago, more recently at work he severed the nerve behind his knee in his left leg, resulting in little to no feeling and awareness of this leg! But on the plus side he has complete faith in the horse he will be using, he isn’t afraid of falling off (sometimes I wish he would try harder not too!) although unfortunately all the observing hadn’t rubbed off as much as I might have hoped.
Oh also he hasn’t worn a tie since he broke his neck in 1983, now we keep the fact he would need to wear a tie a secret until he was a few months in to the challenge as we thought it might be a deal breaker! Yes most so than having to wear jodhpurs..........
The Horse Ted
We have owned Ted AKA Voyager, from a 2 year old, 16 years! Dad did all the ground work with me to back him, this took much longer than we had ever imagined as he didn’t like having someone sitting up on him. But that was a long time ago now, he has run up to Intermediate, Newcomers and Elementary. He is still a bit quirky and Dad knows when you get to the start box Ted will squeak and it’s best to let him stand still as walking won’t be an option, Dad knows him and knows that he will do anything for you. He’s looked after me for 16 years and I am really glad to be able to share him, my sister did her first Pre Novices (100) on him and my 10 year old daughter even has a go.
Both my sister and I are/were BHSAI’s and have competed BE to Intermediate, so he has no escape there is always a critical eye watching over him. At the begin of September it all began we were very lucky that a friend and owner of Holcot Riding School allowed us to use a quiet school horse Ria (the colours in the early photos) and teach him ourselves. Within 6 weeks he was hacking Ted out with
Evie and I doing the running now! We then started taking him to a hirling yard so he could ride round the farm on hunters, they were bouncy and forward and enjoyed their jumping and this worked perfectly for us. Granddad, daughter and Granddaughter all got to ride together which was brilliant fun.
Then the serious stuff started at the beginning of January we went to the Indoor School at Home Farm Hothorpe, this was Dad’s first time in an environment like that and they did some show jumps and cantering round the large arena. We went back the following week and used the arena xc, first XC fence on Ted, cantered round the canter track, went in the water, jumped ditches, corners, tyres and brushes. The following week we went to Home Farm to show jump and we had another 1st Dad fell off, TWICE! He realised why I keep shouting heels down! From this point on we have been taking Ted out due to his (Ted) age trying to stay on a surface as much as possible.
Dad did his first Dressage test Prelim 7 at Saxon Fields on 13th May getting 60%
Then the next day May 14th he did his first round of show jumping at Moulton College, Ted was quite excited and we did the first class at 50cm and won!
Our next Dressage outing to Moulton College for Prelim 7 again Dad and Ted got 61% super pleased and an improvement. We are happy with 60% as we are focused on purely on rhythm and accuracy.
Unfortunately the 2nd show jumping outing to Weston Lawns wasn’t as successful, it resulted in Dad and Ted parting company at fence 5, but they reunited and completed. This also resulted in a serious conversation where Dad had felt Ted was too quick but I felt Dad was too slow. This was a turning point where Dad realised what show jumping is really about, not getting from one to the next as quickly and directly as possible, but planning a line that allows the horse to maintain his rhythm and balance from landing to a point 4 strides in front of the next fence to allow the horse to do his job.
Where we are now
Unfortunately the day after Weston Lawns Ted had a massive allergic reaction to nettle rash and there was some concerns about his Red Cell count so Dad has had a break and I have been riding him as I know him and could gauge where we were with his progress. After nearly two weeks he was consistently back to himself. So Dad got on this week and jumped last night.
Dad is entered for Little Downham (2) 22nd July not quite 11 months since he first got on…..
Both Dad and Ted know Little Downham well Ted did his first Novice there as a 5 year old in 2004 and has run there regularly over the years.
So fingers crossed and wish them luck…..
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