Spring returned in all it’s glory this week, right on cue for the first day of the 2015 eventing season. I even made a comeback to riding [of sorts] thanks to friends Russ & Lucy, who have kindly lent me a trusty stead to ride so I can get my ‘sea legs’ back.
It’s been a while since I’ve sat in the saddle other than to gallop the odd horse for a friend. Four days back in the saddle and I’m starting to rediscover seatbone calluses, and aching muscles I’d completely forgotten about. “Riding fit” is a totally different definition of fitness. Although I’ve been regularly walking or cycling many miles, the top of my legs and right across my shoulders ache like I’ve been beaten with a stick!
This new horse, “Squeak”, is fitter than me in spite of time off himself, and is very forgiving of my lack of match practice. He’s a decent 17hh or so and not lacking brakes. My legs are getting a good work out, and I am slowly starting to feel ‘it all coming back to me’. I don’t think I’ve competed for 4 or five years now – that took me by surprised when I thought about it! If I don’t get a move on it’ll be classed as a comeback rather than a short break.
My two children are now well embedded at school, and enjoying every minute so I’m hoping this will allow more time for me to re-connect with my own passion. My future plan definitely includes an eventer, if circumstances allow. Right now I just need to get ‘riding fit’ and fully prepared for viewing horses, however long that takes!
Boomerang Cross Country Schooling grounds has been as busy as I’ve ever seen it, and I can’t get over how far people travel to use the 40 acre facility. This week the place has been like a who’s who of eventing with people from right across the ranks pitching up for practice. I’ve spotted Rodney Powell, Bruce Haskell, Jock Paget, Jonelle & Tim Price this week. Even Pippa Funnel battled the M25 to get here. There are new fences, refurbished fences, and a host of redesigned permanent fences now out.
Russ isn’t one to sit still and let the schooling field fend for itself. Take off and landings are prepared for all weathers, many fences are regularly moved, and the ground is regularly harrowed and rolled. Today’s going was pretty perfect. The biggest surprise for me was the improvements to the sunken road and the main water complex. Russ was telling earlier in the week this is partly due to the evolution of course design out on the circuit, so he is giving riders the opportunity to ride the type of lines they will probably face out on course.
After riding this morning, I spent an hour or so out in the schooling field with my cameras. If you ever have the opportunity, it’s time well spent. You learn a lot from watching others, not only the best but also watching those going about it all wrong. I followed two female riders. The first one was rushing her fences leaning forward, then getting cross with her horse for running out at a narrow fence. The horse barely had time to adjust it’s stride to safely jump fences.
Meanwhile on a striking bay mare the second rider was taking her time calmly as the her horse spooked at the first few fences gently persuading the horse there was nothing to fear from the tiny fence before it. 10 minutes later and this mare was confidently jumping all manner of fences, in and out of water, up and down steps, and over ditch trakehners.
I do love being around horses again, it’s therapeutic, and puts a spring back in my step.
It was swiftly back down to reality where at home my 6-y-o son had patiently waited for my return, eager for me to teach him “how to do wheelies!” I think it’ll be a while before he manages anything closely resembling a wheelie thank goodness.
Gotta admire his spirit though!
A few more photos: