With The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials weeks away we are delighted that Shelia Barker has joined the team as blogger in the run up and after the dramatic week.
Blog Number Six 14th May
The fat lady did her singing, and how! But not before she had oh! so nearly had the last laugh! The support and good wishes at Chilham were overwhelming. With three double clears on her young horses and one to go Nana responded to the latest “good luck at Badminton “ ‘with so long as I don’t fall off my last ride here’ which she did – in the show jumping warm up – suffice to say she was passed by the doctor but half an hour later certainly didn’t feel like going xc. So, yes we made it to the hallowed grail but not necessarily feeling as perky as one would have wished. Winter turned to summer in twenty four hours making Badminton Park into the place any right minded person would want to be the first weekend in May.
Blog Number Five 1st May
Having survived the two coldest days eventing in my life at the most wonderfully run event in perfect ground conditions at Chilham this weekend, I was simply over the moon to wake up this morning to see that finally the sun has come out, albeit my phone reported a temperature of 1 degree c. The date today – the 1st of May! Is it too little too late? Enough of doubt! Having spent all day shopping and cooking for the five thousand, yesterday, not forgetting to mention a quick diversion to Majestic wine store, (I have never been offered a glass of wine at 10AM before). We are now all packed up and on the road, it always amazes me how much one needs for a three day event and that was in the days before we had Toby’s tractor to consider!
Onwards and upwards!
Blog Number Four 26th April
I think you will agree Nana says it all!
Feeling very happy and quite emotional as I’ve just had THE phonecall…Miley is heading to Badminton next week!!
This horse means the absolute world to me and getting the opportunity to take him back to Badminton is extremely special indeed!
Rewind 18 years and I first sat on Mileys mother, Ruffos Star – she was a beautiful and generous mare who ended up sadly passing away with her head in my lap, but not before giving us the precious gift of Miley (Absolut Opposition).
To watch a horse from the day it was born, back it and produce it yourself to then complete your first Badminton on, really is the stuff of fairy tales.
More than that, he has the biggest heart, is incredibly intelligent, has a phenomenal character and I trust him implicitly – he was the only horse I rode in the latter stages of my pregnancy, including the day I gave birth to my gorgeous son, Toby.
This time last year his future looked very uncertain and my biggest hope was that he would be ‘a mothers hack’ for me – he has not only excelled in this role but now he’s exceeded all hopes/dreams/expectations by lining up at the worlds most prestigious event again!!
I have a video of him jumping the last couple of fences and going through the finish flags 3 years ago…I’d dearly love to be doing the same next week, but whatever happens, we’ve already conquered a massive obstacle to be going again and quite simply, he owes my nothing and I owe him everything!!
Blog Number Three 23rd April
The fat lady still isn’t singing……..
Miley is in fantastic order, indeed dare I say it the form of his life, so much so that, having run with the choke out Burnham we decided to run him at Bicton to try out some new brakes. It was never the intention to complete the course so those that may have picked up on his retirement have no need for concern. It was all part of the plot!
Another week gone by and no more off the wait list, talk about nail biting stuff. Still the word on the street is ‘of course it will be alright’, but it’s not much fun this not knowing. At the time whether one came 32nd or 34th in the 4* at Pau seemed of little importance. A finishing score of 111.10 plays a finishing score of 113.20 is hardly something to fall out with friends over. On reflection 65 FEI points for 32nd and 0 points for 34th seems one huge discrepancy!
More good work done in the garden together with a little paper work for my forthcoming under 18 classes, life is seldom dull. Onwards and upwards!
Blog Number Two 19th April
An action packed week. Well! We got the sunshine, not down South where it was so needed but up here in Scotland which was wonderful as it enabled me at last to have two really good days productive work in the garden. My thoughts were never too far away from the horse front though! Here is a picture of Miley continuing his fitness work ascending into the clouds on the Down-lands of Hampshire.
So the verdict must be, so far so good. The waitlist is getting shorter, but …….
A most enjoyable weekend spent on the A1 and Belton. Whilst many riders had their Badminton bound horses at Belton we decided to buck the trend, but there are, as one knows many ways to skin the cat! A combined mother and son birthday party on the beach!
Huge credit to Stuart Buntine and his team. Talk about defying the odds; what a Herculean task to put on such a massively good event with the conditions we have had this spring. Of course ‘old turf’ is always a great bonus, but who would have thought that the going would hold up through to the fading light on Sunday? It was a privilege to watch so many wonderful horses jumping the demanding track.
Why so much time on the A1? A six hour drive south in the early hours of Friday to watch my granddaughter in the U18 ON class. Back to her place Friday night to swap lorries and riders and back up on Saturday early doors with Nana (Elite Syncopation)for a 9 am dressage in the advanced ONE day event. Back down the A1 and a lie in Sunday as not jumping till the afternoon. Along the line I have by this time picked up a husband and an extra dog ready for our six hour drive back up North again Sunday night. And we try telling people we Event Horse Owners are not bonkers/enthusiast? There were many notable performances over the weekend but harping back to my ‘extended family’ Will Furlong should get a mention on his Badminton bound Collien P 2. Winner in the AU25 section with only 2.4 time faults must have been some ride. The confidence of youth!
Talking of which the eighteen year old I mentioned last week was Ruth Edge (Friend) and the pony sized Ice Dancer. And the Advanced U25 in her day were AU21 (YRAT’s) and a full stand alone section as compared to the 17 U25 in yesterday’s section. When does youth become not youth? Was my husband really ‘a youth’ when he married me?!
Blog Number One
1987 – I first became an Event Horse Owner. Little did I think 31 years later I could be on the cusps of owning a Badminton bound horse (small leg of!)
Absolut Opposition has actually been to Badminton before as a ten year old in 2015. A great run with just one little mishap xc. Then with ongoing veterinary niggles, one owner pulled out and, as mothers do, I stepped in!
Probably I am very typical of a thousand and one other mothers of pony mad children. Walking the Badminton course with ones child saying confidently ‘ my pony could jump this Mummy’. Dreams? Reality! oh the confidence of youth! Will it really happen now? We all know of the million and one obstacles between dreams and reality, fairy tales seemed to happen more way back then. If you had jumped just one advanced and finished in the top 25% of a three star as an eighteen year old, you were free to enter the holy grail event. Rightly so the qualifications have become much tighter. A slight setback, a couple of missed runs, and all of a sudden one is rock bottom on the wait list. History assures me that we will get in, with a much smaller entry than usual, making the decision back in January not to go to Portugal chasing points look to be a good call :- but let’s wait to be sure till the fat lady is singing!
We have been very lucky so far this season, we have had two runs! Isleham our first port of call was cancelled but thanks to the team at Twesledown we got a last minute entry and at Burnham Market we were the lucky ones that got a xc run on the Friday before the rain came and spoilt the party.
As a JRN coordinator for a number of years I have proudly followed ‘my children’ on their journey to Badminton with the usual highs and lows. This year I think I have nearly a record, eight in all. My three ‘boys’ Harry, Tom and Will as well as Lizzie Green, Kate Honey, Gemma Tattersall, Georgie Strang and my own daughter Nana Dalton.
Let’s see what the next three weeks brings, perhaps some sunshine, now, that would be nice!
Onwards and upwards!
With very best wishes