Here is my event report from completing my Wobbleberry Challenge BE80 on Saturday... (it's a long one)
In November 2016 the 16th September 2017 seemed a very long way off. Not only in time but in the gap between my ability and what I was aiming to do!
After 10 months of solid training, prepping, pushing my comfort zone massively, falling off, knackering my knees and ankles and facing my fears - I did it!! I went from no longer jumping with Della anymore (because she would rush, bounce and scare me quite frankly) to jumping a course of showjumps at a height higher than I've ever competed at in my riding life and a round of 19 solid cross country fences at a gallop (well a very fast canter)!!
I entered Saturday's event at Munstead Horse Trials in August and to be honest I really didn't know if we would do it. Mostly because Della was right in the middle of rehabilitation from 3 of her vertebrae touching and causing her discomfort (that we finally got to the bottom of in June). Also because it had meant 6 weeks with very little riding from me. We had been right on plan with our training schedule up to the day she was diagnosed. 6 weeks out when you only have 10 weeks to go before the big event is far less than ideal. The only option I had was to adjust my plan and fast track us as soon as I could, providing Della's body could do it of course. And it could.
The week leading up to our event was very full on. 3 days of it were taken with me coaching at Wellington Riding on their Confidence camp. This took my mind off the task ahead and also meant Della got the physio (who gave her a glowing progress report) and a bit of rest time before the big day.
Once I walked the course on the Friday evening I felt a whole lot better. Now I knew what I was going to be doing. I could visualise it all and practice in my mind with it all going to plan.
Saturday came around very quickly!! I was of course nervous. I knew I was going to take each step at a time. One phase at a time. One jump at a time. For me this is always how I handle the nerves and the "what ifs". Fear doesn't exist in the present moment.
We happily warmed up for the dressage and I was in my happy place!! Della felt fab and was working over her back nicely. I'm so glad I invested in my Equilibrium Massage Pad! It makes a huge difference to helping her back muscles warm up. We did a nice accurate test and I was happy with it. Right that's the fun part of the day gone - now onto the slightly poop enducing aspects 💩
SJ next. We went to walk the course and my freind Suzi had just finished her BE90 so she walked it with me and told me her thoughts on how to ride it. Super groom Allison had seen my dressage score. She asked if I wanted to know it (because they announce it just before the sj bell!). I said yes. It was a 33. One of my best.
Then my amazing SJ trainer Christine came along to warm me up. She saw I was nervous. I'm not a big fan of warmups- I like to get it done so the anticipation of warmup isn't my favourite thing. She was amazing. Cool, calm and collected. We popped around the warm up and then did a fab round! I simply took one jump at a time and Della was on form. Just the one white pole on a wall that lots of people had done. So we finished on 4 faults and 2 time.
Then a quick "costume change as Mum Debbie Winter called it into the xc kit and finally a chance for a bit of matchy! My parents had driven all the way from Dorset to support me and it was just amazing to have them there. Although I think the earlier ambulance on the xc course was a bit of a shock to non horsey Mum when she realised this was potentially quite a dangerous thing to do! As I put my air jacket on - another sign to her that maybe this wasn't a walk in the park- I overheard her whispering in Della's ear "you look after my baby". I thought to myself, "yes please do look after me Della. I know you will". A tear rolled down my cheek as I realised just how much trust and love I have for that horse. She had been in pain but she soldiered on for me earlier in the year. Now she was feeling good I was totally in her debt.
I went to the xc warmup. I just wanted to get out there and do it now. Everything had led up to this bit. 19 fences between me and completing my challenge. Christine was waiting for me. After a slap and a bit of a pep talk we were in the start box hearing those unique words that only eventers get to hear... 5,4,3,2,1 GO!!
The rest was amazing! Della picked up the pace after jump 5 (because jump 4 looked a bit on the tall and wide side to me) and she held my hand. At every fence I said out loud "You got this" (I need a tshirt now Olivia!). We had a small comms error at 9. I was telling her right after this one but I'm not sure she heard the "after" so went ran out right. I nearly came off but the sheer determination to complete (and the near bankruptcy I was facing that another air canister would have compounded) kept me on. Back round and represent- we sailed over! Then with lots of whooping (so I remembered to breathe and enjoy it) we sailed the rest. A slight ankle issue after 16 meant I had to slow a fraction around the last corner but once we were straight onto the last line of 3 we went forward yet again to finish with cheers around us!! Just 20 xc penalties for the run out and 22 time faults mostly due to that delay.
To cut the last bit short (otherwise this is a mini novel!) we actually got 6th. A top 10 was nigh dream and we smashed it.
I cannot thank enough the support of all the Wobbleberries who were helping on the day. It was amazing to do this with everyone around cheering us on.
I also need to give a massive thanks to Heidi who got me from falling off over a stick on the floor to sailing round the xc. Michelle who runs the most amazing yard in the world that we moved to in March to get the facilities and support we needed to complete this. Ella-louise who seriously thought we would be dangerous xc at the start but who taught us the technicalities of xc with nice indoor knock down jumps.
Of course it's a massive support team for Della too! Carol for her incredible work rehabilitating Della (I had to prise her away from Carol) and also for my beautiful xc colours. Julie for the million saddle checks and changes along the way. Plus everyone else involved in getting us her.
Of course HUGE THANKS to my lovely man Mark for his amazing support whilst I did all the training.
Next year I will continue to event Unaffiliated and just see how Della goes. I'm looking forward to more fun and bits of ribbon too hopefully!
If you have a dream then do it. Make a plan and make it happen 😍
Please add some pennies to the pot for the amazing cancer charity that I did this for too- www.justgiving.com/JenniWinter?utm_id=26