Adventures of an Unlikely Eventer: Celebrating a Grand Season Finale!

Hannah Craft and her trusty steed Sid are on a mission to make it in the world of eventing. Starting out at BE90 for their first season this year, Hannah shares the honest and often hilarious thrills and spills of their Big Adventure!  This time it’s their last event of the season at Tweseldown. Hannah is hoping Sid has recovered enough from his injury to make it a grand season finale………!

Hannah and Sid tackle a XC fence at TweseldownAll of last week I was hoping, wishing and praying that Sid would be OK to compete at Tweseldown. It was to be our last event of the year as the season ends in October. Some of you may know that Sid became injured a fortnight ago when he tried to open a gate with his head (as you do……).Whilst I know Halloween is just around the corner, I did NOT want to be eventing a Frankenstein horse, and the injury was bad enough to need stitches.

Anyway, I was keeping a beady eye on him and counting down the days. I was so desperate to compete that I cleaned his injury frantically with hibiscrub, syringed it with saline solution, covered it in sudocrem….I did everything I could think of.
After my disaster at Goring, I really wanted to finish the season on a high.

Decision Time…

A few days before Tweseldown and I came down to the yard to make my final decision.I peered at his neck.
It looked like it was healing nicely. We were going to Tweseldown!
I spent the next few days trying to learn the test and psyche myself up. I hadn’t really dared to hope that he would be fit to compete, so I was slightly underprepared to say the least!

Preparations…

The night before the event and my lovely friend Zara was able to plait and bath him for me, as I was working late. She sent me a picture of him looking very unimpressed with the cold water. Well…I suppose it is October! Poor thing!
She covered every square inch she could with stable bandages, a hood and rug. He would have a hard job getting dirty overnight (I’m sure he did try though!)

It was the morning of the event and, after such a busy week at work, I managed to ignore my alarm and oversleep! Cue a panicked rush to the yard and the fastest turnaround EVER to get Sid loaded. Due to working at lightning speed we left only 30 minutes later than planned and were able to relax and enjoy the car journey (I love a morning singalong).
We arrived at Tweseldown and put Sid’s massage rug on. We studded up without incident (occasionally my studs refuse to cooperate).We tacked up and before I knew it we were ready to go.

Nerves a-go-go

I warmed up and, for once, Sid felt lovely and supple. I decided that I was going to enjoy today, however it went.
It is a very expensive day out and I was going to have fun. I was not going to let competition nerves take over.
The steward told me I was up and so I plastered a smile on my face and headed over to the arena.
The first half of the test was still a little tense (relaxation is not something I am good at when people are watching me ride) but the second half felt lovely. I left the arena feeling really pleased with Sid. It turns out that when you decide to enjoy the day, you actually feel a whole lot better!

Best laid plans…

We headed over to show-jumping and, it is fair to say, my plan did go a little awry. Sid was keen but the warm up area was a bit crowded and people were cutting us up or changing the jump when we were heading towards it…
I got a bit frustrated and Sid picked up on this. We headed into the arena but we couldn’t quite get it together and ended up having 3 poles down, which is our worst showjumping score to date. I shook myself off as we exited the arena. We have the whole of winter to practice showjumping.I had heard my dressage score as we walked out – 32.5! That was enough to help me forget about the horrendous jumping round and get back to the next task…..cross country.

That sick feeling…

We walked the cross country course and I tried to eat a chocolate bar for energy. Unfortunately, as we were walking round I realised that this was one of the toughest courses we have ever faced….and I started to feel quite sick!!!
My stomach was churning and I wasn’t sure this would be the confidence-giving round I wanted it to be.
Most of our nemesis jumps were on course….jumping on an angle, coffin combinations, steps down, accuracy questions…
I was not sure how it would play out at all. I hopped on and headed over to the warm up. I had butterflies in my stomach.
Sid started jig-jogging – he could feel I was anxious. We got into the warm up and I can’t explain how but all of a sudden I felt OK.I trotted him round and he did a lovely extended trot. I opened him up for a canter and gallop and checked I could speed him up and slow him down within canter easily. We popped over the warm up jumps and he felt very keen.
I told myself over and over, I will enjoy this. I breathed in confidence and breathed out nerves.

They’re off…

We were called to the start box….and the starter was so lovely, asking me about how our day had gone and making me laugh. I felt like I could do this (and if I couldn’t….well, it was too late!) We were counted down and we headed out. Sid did his typical spook/sideways shuffle at the first jump – but it forced me to lock my lower leg on, sit back and drive for the fence.
He did the same at the second but I was firm. We were doing this.
The third jump was round the corner and out of sight until the last minute. I anchored my position in case of any spooking and encouraged him forward. He jumped it and I sat back – it was downhill from here to the narrow house combination.
I picked my line through the two angled houses and grittily stuck to it.
Then over a table through the hedge and towards our worst fence – the coffin combination.
Today’s terrifying combination was a hanging log, to a ditch at an angle (and it was so wide!) and then a right angled turn to a log with brush over the top.
Sid is terrified of ditches – the last time we tried to jump a similar combination, we ended up grinding to a halt in mid-air over the hanging log and being stranded with two legs one side and two the other! I brought him back to a show-jumping canter to give him as much time as possible to work it out. He popped the rail, I threw my shoulders back and pushed with my leg and – I could NOT believe it – he hesitated for a split second and jumped! I quickly gathered my washing lines up and turned to the C element and he was Mr Honest and popped over. From there, the rest of the course was brilliant fun. He didn’t look at the house – water – upright combination, he popped sweetly over the brush, no issues with the wagon…
The solid, wide fences in the middle were a piece of cake.

The next challenge was a hanging log to a step down and then, 4 strides on a downhill slope later, a triple brush. I was worried he wouldn’t have time to see the step down and that he would be on the forehand and duck out at the brush.
I needn’t have worried, he took one look and said “Mum, I’ve got this” and just took it all on without a bat of his eyelashes.
We stormed over the dragon’s breath and we were through the finish line, CLEAR!
I was patting him and loudly praising him (I got a lot of looks my way!) but I didn’t care – he deserved everything.
Needless to say, my carrot supply has run out now!

All done…

What a great end to the season. Still plenty to work on – winter will be packed full of dressage and show-jumping practice – but it was so fantastic to end on a high. And better yet, we are now qualified for BE100! So bring on next season!

 

You can  follow Hannah and Sid on social media at :

Instagram: @hannahcraft2711 or @sidgoeseventing
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hannah.stiles.58

Or read more about them by clicking on these “Previous Post” links

 

https://wp.me/p7L3rW-yI (first one)

 

https://wp.me/p7L3rW-z1 (2nd)

 

https://wp.me/p7L3rW-AX (3rd)

 

 

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