The diary of a Cornish Eventer – Last minute call up!

So the hour has gone back and winter is truly beginning although it’s still crazily warm for October isn’t it! You definitely won’t find me complaining about the extra hour of sleep though. Hope everyone survived storm Brian the other weekend. I was up in Buckinghamshire where it was rather windy but luckily we only had a couple of odd rain showers. Cornwall was hit pretty badly while I was away, which would explain why I can’t find Lola’s feed bucket; “Brian” must have fancied using it! 

Lola and I completed our final BE event at Pontispool where a green stop on XC cost us a placing but we did finally achieve a sub 30 dressage score! Later on in September we were then supposed to go to the Bricky but the weather annoyingly put a stop to that as the whole event was cancelled. Must admit I’m already chomping at the bit for 2018 event season to start! Already got a championship to go to but more on that later…

I was hoping October was going to be a quieter (I’m sure I say this every time!!) month but I received a message asking if I could step in as the lead rider for my Riding Clubs Quadrille Team. It was a such a shame it was on bad circumstances though, as my lovely friend Marie’s horse damaged herself travelling so couldn’t do the long journey up to Bury Farm.

Now quadrille wasn’t brand new to Sprite and I as we were part of the Wizard of Oz team in 2015. But did I mention the message only came through 10 days before the qualifier?! Waaa… that’s a whole different kind of pressure!! I had to learn a routine and all the acting that goes with it! The theme this year was Mary Poppins and I’m sad to admit I had never watched the film… yes I felt ashamed!!! I quickly rectified it though and a month later I can’t get the songs out my head… supercalifragilisticexpialidocious… they’re soooo catchy!! Just a shame I can’t sing so murder the songs every time, hey ho it’s only the boyfriend complaining when I’m in the shower haha! The team were fab and scheduled in 4 emergency practises. Before I knew it we were off to Bury Farm!

The qualifier started well for us with the judges being blown away with our costumes and scoring us 60/60 for turnout. The performance went as well as we could have hoped for with just a couple of minor mistakes but I don’t think anyone really noticed. We smashed it for 1st place with 95%! We were over the moon and super excited we were going to be doing it all over again in just 3 weeks’ time at the final!!

We had a few more practises and made a couple of tweaks where we felt it needed tidying up. With scoring full marks for turnout it was difficult to know what we could add to the costumes without going over the top so we decided just to add a few detailed items like butterflies and tassels to the horses lycra suits, giving it a bit of a 3D effect.

As you can imagine 3 weeks didn’t take long to come around and off we set again for the 8 hour journey back to Bury Farm. We were performing as part of their Gala evening along with the top showjumpers, extreme driving and the Shetland grand national.. in front of lots and lots of people! The horses travelled really well and it wasn’t long before they were settled into their stables for the night. We had a little ride around on the morning of the show day along with a quick run through of the routine without any music or boards but it went surprisingly well. Then the preparation starts, it literally takes the whole day to get the horses ready, from bathing to painting feet then glitter on top, to sowing on tassels… oh and don’t forget the feather bowers!! It’s then time to get into costume yourself – which isn’t a 2 second job either.

Show time!! For the final we had two new judges and one the same from the qualifier, they again loved the costumes and the extra detail. The turnout was judged in one of the 3 warm arenas, it was quite amusing as our horses were amazed by the extreme drivers that were warming up in the arena across from us, I mean when do they ever see that type of thing? Yet those horses were looking at our horses in a rather puzzling look, I can just imagine them thinking why are 4 very bright, not your normal colour horses staring at them!! 

Not long later we were walking through the arch into the main arena to be greeted by all the spectators looking at us. My stomach matched my costume and had the biggest of butterflies but Sprite walked in like a pro and gave me the confidence I needed. The performance couldn’t have gone any better, it felt amazing to ride in front of all those people. I still can’t wipe the smile of my face now! Good job the music was loud as I sang my heart out getting way too carried away in the role!

The results were mounted this time and crikey, nail biting to say the least! 4th was called out and it wasn’t us, then 3rd still not us, 2nd still not our name…  we had won!! We are now the National Champions for Quadrille!! The lap of honour felt incredible and gave you such a buzz! This was the 6th year my riding club – Cornwall Trec – have attempted quadrille and have never won before so it was even more special for everyone and the club. I had such a lovely weekend with awesome company, making more memories with my little Spritey! 

Now Lola’s turn… In between the quadrille qualifier and final Lola has also been a superstar as we took part in the festival of the horse 100cm qualifiers. Again due to the weather it had to be postponed the first time which resulted in us losing our 4th member so all 3 scores had to count. Lola was jumping her socks off just gaining an unfortunate/annoying 4 faults. You then had to go straight out on to XC where she absolutely loved it and flew, giving me a fabulous clear. Our team of 3 did enough for us to take first place and in qualifying position for the Championships next May at Aston-le-Walls. Something already to look forward to in 2018! It’s horrible to think we haven’t got any XC for 5 months, what am I going to do?!

Up next we have the dressage and showjumping winter qualifiers for our riding club which will be with Lola. Sprite will then be heading off to our fund raising Gala evening to do the Mary Poppins routine for the very final time.

I’ve been reflecting back on my year, as I’m sure we all are? It’s been quite a rocky one for Lola but she has had some awesome days and hopefully we’ve put to bed any issues we’ve come across. Looking forward to keeping up the training over the winter… 2018 we’re coming for you!

Love Emily, Sprite & Lola