Well Duck was top notch at Badminton really excelling in all three phases and touch wood has come back for a short holiday looking great.
My last XC run was done with the young ones at Gleneagles Hunter tails, always good to come off the back of something big, so that the fences at Badminton don’t look to bad!!!!! So a nice pop round the 90 cm in torrential rain was ideal!!!!!! It was how ever very useful for Harry, Oliver and Sky in the Open all enjoying having a bit of less pressured fun and Morris in the 90 just to get some more mileage. So with them all suitably entertained I could then really concentrate on BADMINTON AHHHHHHH!
We left home on Tues as normal after a final run through the dressage test with Liz we then a good run down the road and cruising into Badminton 8 1/2 hrs later, Duck got his checks on arrival,we found our stable and took him out for a leg stretch and some grass.
Wednesday was trot up day, Blues and Browns had done me proud again with a very smart tweed outfit,
it was quite windy and Duck was definitely pleased to be back so it was quite a job to keep him going in a straight line, in fact we had a lot of half pass going on but all good and on to the next day! I had done a little bit of Schooling with him in the morning and also an arena familiarization, which he had been fairly spooky at, so a useful exercise. I had my first look at the course in the evening and all looked do able but there were plenty of places to come back to check out lines and distances
Thursday was Dressage day and being drawn number 28, I was just after lunch, so I went for a brief school up by the arena’s in the morning just to keep him busy and let him relax and stretch. Before going up about 1/2 an hour before my test. I couldn’t have been more pleased with him having been spooky at the familiarization he didn’t let any of the atmosphere get to him and really knuckled down to do a fab test, one frustrating miss communication with the first change, which was a real shame as he has been very good about hitting all of them in training but other than that he did everything as he would at home so cant really ask for any more and he got a PB at four star and broke into the 40’s which was the main aim as we has been very close for ages. Another course walk in the evening just to keep me busy before going to the Drinks party up at Badminton house along with 700 people, so just a small gathering!!!!!
Friday was then very relaxed and it was nice to be able to hack around the Badminton grounds, I did think that may be it would just be a lot less stressful to just do the Badminton and Burghley sponsored rides!!! A final course walk and a look at the last tweaks to the planned routes. Grace took Duck out to graze in front of Badminton house and also have a quick session with the BBC, I wasn’t needed they obviously know which is the important one!!
Saturday XC day, the mornings are never that much fun and it is not until I get onto Duck that suddenly you feel a lot calmer and ready for the rest of the day, I took him out as normal about 2 hrs before his time to have a good pipe opener before taking him back, listening to a few rounds on Badminton radio and a very quick look TV coverage before getting on and heading up to the warm up.
He was feeling great, towing me about in the warm up is never a bad feeling, before heading up to the main arena and the start. He set off and felt great jumping really well through the quarry showing that he meant business. He has always been quite distracted by the crowds and that was no different this time, luckily when it comes to jumping he is not distracted though!
With the course this way round I find he goofs around a bit all the way up the side of the lake. The only change to the original plan came at the Colt pond when we jumped a little to up over the B element so rather than risk the long one stride to the C element I did a quick detour to the option C. Otherwise he popped round very happily, It is amazing the level of concentration that 4* takes, I really find that you always have to be switched on any any lapse in concentration can be very expensive!
Back in the 10 min.box he was looked after amazingly well after finishing by Mum, Grace, Rachel [physio], Jacobina and Dad to get him cooled off and his heart rate down. It is so good to have them all as its so important to get that part right so that he goes back to his box in the best possible condition and judging by how he dragged Mum back at speed they did a super job of his post XC recovery! He then was left to relax in the stable before getting checked over by Rachel to make sure his muscles were all in good order before leaving him in peace.
Sunday Morning Trot up and Show Jumping, I went up first thing to check he was looking good and for Rachel to have a check over, we were both happy with him, Grace then took over to polish him up again ready for trot up, he is very easy when you are leading him around before trot up but as soon as he goes through the Arches he goes from laid back to Tiger and this time he had the Ground Jury in his sights it was a little embarrassing to nearly send them flying as he zoomed back down the trot up strip! Anyway he felt fine which is the main thing! I then went and checked out the Show Jumping course and walked it twice which I think is a first! Just as well I did as I walked the wrong line on the 2nd walk so very pleased I got that out the way before doing it on Duck! He felt great in the warm up the odd buck and whiz around. He then went in an jumped his socks off, which really capped the weekend off as you feel that you did all you could and with only 7 double clears he had a good rise back up the leader board.
We headed straight back up the road after the parade as never to much time before you are on to the next competition and with Floors on the Thursday I really need to get cracking again with the home horses. So Monday morning wasn’t that relaxing with 7 to ride!
Floors had had a major re vamp and looked great, it has always been a great setting for an Event and it was nice to see it with a new look. Yorkie was down for the CIC** and did a very nice test although the Judges had very different scores with 15 marks different so his good score could have been really good if they had agreed! One pole SJ was my fault, as he was jumping well, but will put the XC fault down to him!
The first half of the course was quicker than the 2nd so I had let him go on a bit but the down side to that was the steering then suffered a bit and he was fighting a little bit when it came to turning so we missed the 7B but after that he settled down very nicely and jumped well.
Harry was in the Novice and got a little spooked before the Dressage so I was pleased that he did pull off not to bad a test for 35, he had 1 pole SJ and then was fab XC.
Oliver was down on the Sunday and had the worst of the weather for his Dressage but 28 double clear had him in 7th. I also had Lola for Mark Moran, I had a quick sit on her on Saturday night and then off we went, it was her first BE outing for 2015 and she was a little pleased with herself in the Dressage so I think it is safe to say Mark should do a better test than me next time out! But she totally redeemed herself jumping, doing a super double clear.
I have sold Sky back to Claire as her older horse is out for the season, it is lovely to know that that team has been re-united but I am sad to see her go as she was very smart, they had a great first outing together again though, doing a 29,double clear for 4th at Floors, so hopefully they will have loads of fun this season.
A massive thank you to every one that helped at Badminton and in all the preparation for getting Duck and I prepared for it, as well as the support from my lovely sponsors TopSpec, Equiliburm Products, Mountain Horse, EquiSox, Blues & Browns, Robinson Animal Healthcare, Dave Cameron Photography, and Sorbeo bedding.