Diary of a grass roots eventer: Double trouble at Chilham

By Derby House on |



Earlier this month I succeeded in taking two horses to Chilham 1 – my first time competing with two horses!

It was a very different experience. Learning – and performing – two dressage tests was harder than I thought. I had a blonde moment and mistakenly asked Toddy for one of Desmond’s moves, which meant poor Toddy was marked down for no fault if his own.

Also an ill-timed ‘bromance’ had struck up between the two horses, which resulted in a lots of tension and plenty of whinnying from the side-lines!

 I had a blonde moment and mistakenly asked Toddy for one of Desmond’s moves

Toddy, ever the pro, still got a 32 dressage despite my mistake, but I then managed to have the first and the last jump down show jumping for 8 faults. Which I am still kicking myself for, as of course they were mainly my fault.

Mr Desmond and Carly at Chilham
Mr Desmond and Carly at Chilham

Toddy’s Novice cross country was my largest course to date, big and bold with lots of undulation. One particular combination was a silver birch rail with a drop down a very steep hill, two strides left, to the biggest corner I have ever seen.

I took it steady after having the two poles, and received lots of time penalties but Toddy jumped clear and I am absolutely thrilled with him.

It wasn’t foot perfect by any means, I saw a couple of strides a little deep, including a house into the water but he still managed to make it all feel easy.

Mr Desmond was a Superstar in the BE100. Our first time out for a year since his navicular diagnosis and he pulled off a very respectable 34 dressage, followed by a double clear and even managed to be in the placings.

He was as bold as ever, really striding out and felt amazing, totally remembering what it was all about and making the XC feel effortless. Even the big Chilham hills. I am so happy I can’t stop smiling.

Last Thursday marked another first for me: I went to Badminton Horse Trials. Family duties (more on this later) meant I was only able to go on the first of the dressage. The atmosphere was amazing and I was completely star struck.

Ben Hobdays horse, Mulrys Error, definitely wasn’t your classic event type but he made my day

The big names and several up and coming riders made it all look very easy. Ben Hobdays horse, Mulrys Error, definitely wasn’t your classic event type but he made my day at his final halt when, after a huge pat from Ben, he helped himself to a cheeky nibble of grass.

CHI_2803{7-Novice Section O_-_708 HIGH FALUTIN Foss, Carly
Making light of the Chilham corner

I went on to completely embarrass my poor friends, asking for autographs like a 12 year old school girl at the trade stands. However I just didn’t care and managed to get good luck wishes from Mary King and William Fox-Pitt.

Having always previously watched the cross country from the safety of my sofa at home, I was bowled over by the enormity of the cross-country jumps as I walked round the course. The made my HUGE corner at Chilham looked more like a rustic cross pole.  Obviously I dream of one day riding the course (never say never!) but at the moment I’d happily settle for the grassroots version!

This weekend I was off with the husband and his family to Windsor. A black tie affair without any children or horses. If only it had been next weekend, I would have been able to go to Badminton XC day and the Royal Windsor Horse Show!

I still had a fabulous time though, comforted by lots of retail therapy and the chance to wear a posh new dress.

Mr Desmond and Carly at Chilham
Mr Desmond and Carly at Chilham 

Just the one momentarily lapse into bad behaviour when I plugged the headphones of my Windsor Castle audio tour into my mobile phone so I could watch live BBC coverage from Badminton.

Very naughty, but I just couldn’t resist. Quite funny that at first my husband thought I was quietly cheering and gasping at the architecture!

Inspired by the horses and riders, I am looking forward to my next BE events: Toddy in the Novice at Aston (2) on the 15th May, then both boys out (touch wood) at Borde Hill (1) on the 31st, with a UA at Mattingley in June, where I have entered Toddy into the Intermediate/Novice to have a go at a long arena test in preparation for my CIC* dream later on in the year.



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