Happy campers

What a great time we had at BD camp last weekend.

Having packed the entire contents of the tack and feed rooms into the lorry, I set off to Keysoe with a mixture of excitement and nervousness about the weekend ahead.

Once we arrived, Rupert settled into his stable well and I met up with fellow campers for prosecco and dinner! We had the first lesson on Saturday at 9am, so it was a very early start as I wanted plenty of time to lunge and wander round the venue beforehand. Rupert came out the stable like a fire-breathing dragon and bucked and squealed around the lunge pen like a hooligan. I can’t say I was particularly relishing the prospect of getting on board at this point and it went through my mind that I could slope off home without anyone really noticing. But I knew I had to do it, I just needed to put on those brave pants and get on with it!

Once on, Rupert settled really well and we had a fantastic lesson in the outdoor arena with Teresa Edmonds, who is an absolute diamond. I normally have lessons on my own, so it made a nice change to have a partner this time. Steve and his lovely horse Woody, were brilliant company and it really helped to settle my nerves and start to enjoy myself. Apart from constantly spooking at the railings at the A end, Rupert was great, so I felt more confident about the test riding in the afternoon.

It took several attempts to get him back into the arena for his test – as he had taken a real dislike to the railings by this point and decided reverse was the best option. Once I’d been towed in by someone on foot, we wobbled our way through the test with no major mistakes but with some spooky moves thrown in. I was delighted with him though – he’d coped with the first day brilliantly, warmed up well with lots of horses and settled enough to get a 66+% result, coming third out of a large group.

Our lesson on day two was in the indoor arena, complete with the shiny pink satin bunting which had worried Rupert a few weeks ago. But nothing was as scary as the three people sitting in the gallery! Rupert was very tight and worried through most of my lesson but he held it together and manged to get a little closer to the scary monsters in the gallery towards the end.

Test two started in a similar way to the previous day – reversing away from the railings and into arena 1 this time. Not ideal! I knew it would be fruitless getting cross with Rupert, as he was nervous and needed reassurance more than anything. Thankfully, help came from another lovely camper and after much persuasion, we got to arena 2 and performed a pretty good test. Despite my idiotic riding and doing two 20m circles instead of 15m, we achieved another 66+% score and came second! Clever boy.

In between riding, there were some great workshops and a pilates class, as well as many, many trips to the stables to muck out, feed, tack up, groom and check the horses. It was exhausting but we had a great time. Rupert thoroughly enjoyed the attention and was pretty miffed when we returned home to only get two or three visits a day. It’s not the kind of service he had become accustomed to! Back to reality Rupert – I’d keel over if I had to do that every day.


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