Alex Hall & Edward XII
BE 80(T) Pontispool (2)
Alex’s Wobbling As someone who hacks out on a horse (that’s going for a stroll on horseback) and hadn’t jumped anything for OVER 40 YEARS I didn’t think it would be too difficult… but then I started going to lessons. First thing I realised was that I had loads to learn and the second was that I was out of breath and far too unfit to do this. So as well as regular nagging from Flora and lessons from very kind professionals (especial thanks to Claire Hundley, Jo Rimmer and Steph Buchanan) I started running alternate mornings… There was a stage when I thought it was going quite well… and then I fell off practicing for cross country and got concussion and a broken nose. That dented my confidence (as well as my face) and interrupted my training and fitness. Anyway. I entered my event at Pontispool on the 16th September, tried to do some intensive training, and tried to forget that I had never actually jumped a whole show jumping or cross country course and that I STILL couldn’t find Ed’s brakes! I did it , I did it, I did it…. On the day,: Thank goodness I had late times, determined not to be in a rush and to learn the courses we set off at 10am for my 4.14pm dressage. Of course I had learnt the dressage test (waking up going through it daily for 3 weeks) but I had not anticipated the mental strain of learning the show jumping and cross country on the day. I walked the cross country taking notes. My daughter, Flora, and I both tried to pretend the jumps looked small but they were actually bigger than anything I’d ever jumped. Squeezing myself into Flora’s clothes and feeling like an imposter we headed to dressage… Only then did it feel real.Ed, geed up by the occasion, was not the same horse I’d been training on, he was a wiggly dragon, squirming instead of bending, but I remembered the test., I did a zig zag instead of a serpentine and afterwards I’d have been happy to go home… but no, on to the showjumping. In the ring I was determined to keep control and regain it after each jump… and remember the course. We did. Ed was a star, I pointed, he jumped,. Ed went clear, with remarkably little interference from me! No time to pause, we had to dress and go off to cross country. It was pouring, soaked to the knickers, I couldn’t wear my new prescription goggles as they are tinted and the skies were black… so it was in my usual glasses (needing windscreen wipers). Then I was in the starting box being counted down What the Hell was I doing?? I suddenly thought I had never jumped a whole course, could I? Calmly out of the starting box and over fence 1, not too bad, remember to keep left to line up for number 2, all OK, bear right up a hill number 3, then regain control, eek, that was tough for a curve between parts A and B of 4. It was OK. Then I was up to a wagon, it was big, but we were over. Then where? Oh, through the woods… Help what was coming? Oh goodness, a hanging log, steep down and up hill to a saddle horse. I needed Ed slower for that, but we’d done it and now we had a long run , Ed was going faster and faster, it took all my strength to slow him… and then I was terrified to let him go again.. I was tired and running out of breath, I hoped we might stay steady and I could recover. So at a slow canter we prepared to turn right and jump a brush – the fence that had frightened me most when walking the course.. I suddenly panicked we were on the wrong leg and did a yard or two of trot (I gather this is not normal…) we were over and off to the water, that kept him at a controllable pace, phew. Over a Tractor Ted jump, knackered, no breath, jelly legs, arms weak, wanted a nice break for a cup of tea, like a sack of potatoes over the next and then..eek two angled houses… apparently the most difficult thing on the course… I had planned this but was too exhausted to follow any plan so I pointed and Ed did something clever at an angle… I couldn’t give up now… so a floppy bundle I went through trees to a group of fences all on different courses, I came to just enough to realise Ed had locked onto a huge novice fence and managed to divert him to ours… then I could see Flora waving at me over the last fence and pointed Ed at her… But I had no energy to pull up… the finish was parallel to the start and Ed wanted to do it again! We were clear (slow apparently… didn’t feel it!) . I couldn’t breathe or talk for some time…. Not only did we finish but got a 39 dressage and a double clear!