Sorry everyone I have had no internet access since I arrived at Badminton so I will do my best to remember what happened and get to the good stuff. Wednesday we had a lesson with Colombo early in the morning. David rode him and said he felt good. We rode him in the double bridle and agreed that I would stay in the double till I showed him and then I would use his snaffle. Mum had said maybe Colombo was “boiling, fizzing” behind the double bridle. I think so too. He needs that double every once in a while to keep him light and up in front. Back to the barn I went and packed my suitcase while Anne Marie packed up Colombo’s suitcases. The horse box arrived at 10am so we could load it up with our gear. Catherine got a few quick photos of the team on the garden outside her house. Then we were on the road to Badminton. YEEE HAaaaa!
Wasn’t a very long trip only took about an hour. When we arrived they approved our helmets and took our medical armbands to copy them. Then we unloaded the horses and they checked their passports. We headed up to the stabling and put the horses in their lovely big stalls. Only draw back is they can’t hang their heads out. In an aisle with Karen O’Connor, Paul Tapner, Buck Davidson just to name a few of the champs. The stall blocks are in seperate bunches of about 15 horses. Beautiful old oak stained very dark with original stone walls and archways. Right across the yard from the actual Badminton house (nevermind the canteen) hurray!
Took quite a bit of unloading to get all our gear off and wheeled into the barn aisle (very narrow) plus our hay into the Badminton feed room as there is no room for it in the aisles. Once Colombo was all setlled in I went to check out my caravan. Too cute! One pull down bed and a kitchen and bathroom. The little fridge works so I stocked it with drinks and fruit. The water works for brushing your teeth and the toilet. I take showers in a huge row of portable showers in the parking lot we are staying in. Five caravans for riders and everyone else seems to use horse vans with living (very posh). I am next to Stephanie, Jennifer Wooten and Ingrid Klimke. Grooms are above the horses in the “castle”. All the Canadian grooms are together which is nice. They share a shower with the other grooms on their level. Not bad digs!
Got on and took Mr. C for a nice long hack. They have a trail we can go on that lead’s you too the gallop lane. It was a nice walk off the property out the back and thru some nice fields to relax him. The gallop strip and been kept perfect for the horse show so the footing was amazing. When I walked him back I trotted long and low thru each of the four warm up rings available. Later on I took him for a short walk did some canter work and then took him to the collecting ring and the main arena to let him see everything. The main arena was only walk allowed from 1:30 – 3:30pm. We had our jog at 4pm so I only took him in there for a short time. He was a bit of a nerd. Spooking at the judges box and chomping nervously on the bit. I got off and tried to feed him some grass, quite difficult with his double on. Mum led him around the ring as well. Jog was fun right infront of the castle with only A MILLION people watching and taking pictures! I was so pleased at how well he behaved and jogged. Then they extended the main arena time till 7:15pm so Anne Marie took him back in a halter and hand grazed him in the field where the ring is set up. Ya you remember those judges boxes he was “affraid” of…well he pulled a flower box off of one of them and tried to eat it:) So he was way more relaxed in there after that.
Hawley rode her dressage on this day. Best test I have seen Ginny do. Looked so relaxed and attentive to Hawley. Just that little tiny buck on the last centerline (just to remind everyone who she is) and finished with a 50.2.
We did a team course walk at 9am. I rode Colombo before that on a hack and about 3 mins in each warm up arena on the way back to the stable. I rode him in the gag because he had a little crack in the corner of his mouth on the right and I felt the double would make it worse. His gag has bit guards on both side and it’s a snaffle mouth piece so was more comfortable for him. This was the first time I had been around the course. If I walk the course too early on in the competition I get wound up. The course is so well built and the footing is perfect for us. I was worried about mud up to my knees but the weather has been UNBELIEVABLE! The track is waterd and airated as well as lots of grass cover. I think it looks very rideable however I will be VERY glad to be past fence 7 & 8 a, b. Not my cup of tea. Very high vertical rail with three skinny plants as a ground line and a sprinkle of gravel pretty much underneath the fence (not out in front) where I want it. Did I mention it’s off a 90 degree angle turn, 6 bending strides left to the same idea only in oxer form, six bending strides left to another vertical identical. Do you think anyone would notice if I snuck out with a bucket of gravel in the middle of the night and just extended that groundline out a wee bit?
The rest of the course is jumpable if I ride it correctly. I won’t list every fence you can see the course online at the Badminton website just check out online course walk.
In the evening riders, owners and one guest (mum) were invited to the Duke of Beauforts house (Badminton castle) for a cocktail party. I got to wear a fabulous little black dress kindly lent to me by Erin Beagan my land lady and close friend from Ocala, Florida. The house was incredible with paintings bigger then my caravan of horses, hunt scenes and family portraits. The rooms themselves were amazing with chandeliers, candleabras mounted on the walls that stretch out into the room, mirrors made to look like the sun, baby blue walls with white carvings of cheribs all along the edges. Display cases with beautiful dishes with floral paintings on them and vases on petistols taller then mum. The sun room was all grey stone walls with so many small trees and flowers that made the whole room smell like blossoms, it had an original cute grey stone bench seat in the center. They served champagne and orange juice so I mixed them as I do. I call it mamosa but here they call it bucks fizz? We toured around the ground floor of the house and checked out the garden where we bumped into more people mum knew from her past at Farley castle. Rubbed shoulders with royalty, the rich and famous plus some of the best riders in the world. Then I HAD to eat dinner in the canteen next door because the bucks fizz was kicking in;)
One of the best days of my life! I rode Mr. C at 7:30am took him on that lovely hack thru the fields I told you about earlier to the gallop lane. This time I decided to have a little canter along the gallop lane and back on a loose rein just enjoying the green grass squidging under his hooves and the lovely blossom trees we went past and their pink flowers that throw out that pungent smell I love so much. I told him to remember this moment later today when I take him in the main ring to do his test. Remember I took you out here and let us forget all about dressage tests and crowds, when I ask you to focus and show them how its done at 10:58am. David watched me for a few mins in the collecting ring on the way back from our luxurious hack. He laughed and said “why don’t you ride him in that” meaning my gag. I WISH!! I even managed to eat one egg and a piece of toast after I rode him this morning. Then I went to my caravan and Samara Warren (osteopath & dear friend/student) worked on my neck tension then I got my whites on and off to the barn.
I got on him again at 10:15am and walked him out to the collecting ring where we warmed up doing flexions in trot. Then a few 8m circles to half pass before I took him in to the dressage ring that’s in the collecting area to practise. He felt good in his mind and his mouth as well as supple maybe lacking a little quality in his paces. Just to freak me out a little he threw in a flying change during my counter canter serpentines when he wasn’t meant to. So I went back to my counter canter circles with flexions until he let go in his shoulders. Then Anne Marie took off his boots and tail wrap and I trotted into the main arena. As I passed all the photographers in their roped off area and saw mum clicking away a HUGE smile came across my face that was not put on because its suddenly dawned on me what ring I was in. David had said to me back when we were at Catherines “don’t forget to enjoy the moment and where you are, there’s so much history and not everyone gets to compete there”. So I did:)
Colombo didn’t spook at the judges booths on the way by, the atmosphere was just enough to give him that sparkle in his step. The buzzer went and he needed a poop so I did an extra circle before I took him down the centerline. He felt light and up hill on that first centerline (always a good sign) before my halt which felt nice. Lately he has enjoyed the centerline a little too much in his tests so I was relieved to feel how obedient he was being. Then I gave it all I had. Lost the quality of the trot on the first half of each of my 8m circles then got it back the second half. Couldn’t get him to cross enough behind on my left half pass which was a bit disapointing as he is very good at crossing behind. After watching a few of the other tests I wanted to show them how well he could do that. Needless to say he got an 8 for his halfpass right. Extended walk felt good but my medium had moments of too slow and stuck. Halt, reinback 5 steps then into right lead canter all went well enough. I was really pleased to nail all my flying changes. When I came to the last flying change and got it before I had to turn down the centerline a smerk crept across my face…then I suddenly thought arg the test isn’t over and the last centerline is the worst for Mr. C and I because as a I said before he’s been a bit keen (to put it lightly). I did feel him, rev up a little as I turned onto it but I kept my poop together and his and low and behold he did a darn nice halt at X! We finished in the top ten with a 43.3 best score ever at this level. What a horse! I REALLY wanted to be in the 40’s. At WEG I wanted to be under 45 and that really didn’t work out so this time I told him even if it was a 49.9 I would be happy. Well he pulled out the best test he could and we beat that by a mile. I gave him mints of all different kinds. Did a few interviews on the way out, one is for Badminton blog I think? Might be some pics on the website? Then watched Stephanies test, got changed and walked the course with Elaine and mum. 7 & 8a,b still look tuff but I will ride them my best and work hard for the rest of the course in the hopes I can finish tomorrow with a double clear. Well this has been A LOT of writting in one sit so I am off to stuff my face… as per usual:)