Yesterday I took Rupert out to do a couple of BD prelims at our local venue, Oaklands College. Rupert had never been there before, so I wasn’t expecting much. I planned to treat it as a bit of a schooling round just for experience.
As we arrived, the enormity of the decision to come somewhere new without a lunging pen, suddenly hit me. I reached for the bottle of Rescue Remedy that I keep on the lorry and swigged half the bottle.
Rupert clocked the peacock proudly displaying his magnificent feathers when we let the lorry ramp down. The llamas on the way to the warm up were even more scary, particularly as the little group of weird creatures came over to the fence to watch Rupert as he snorted and shaked at the prospect of getting past them.
We made a dramatic entrance into the warm up, and I imagined what the other riders were thinking. “Nothing to see here” I said to myself, and led him round on foot for a few circuits before getting on. I opted for getting into trot quickly and doing lots of transitions to keep his mind on me and I was really pleased with how he started to let go of the tension.
Too quickly it was time to go in. The first test was wobbly. Lack of steering and concentration led to a disagreement with a white board and we came to a grinding halt at A when the spooky monsters were just too much. A quick circle to get into canter and we were off again. The rest of the test was OK and I was really delighted with 66.6%.
After an hour’s break, it was time for the second test. This time I was determined to be bolder, braver and give Rupert as much reassurance as possible that I had everything under control. He was incredible. Still wobbly with a big spook down at A again but he really tried hard and the canter felt particularly good.
The stress of the day had clearly got to Rupert as he wouldn’t go back on the lorry. He flat refused, and no amount of coaxing was working. As I was starting to lose the will to live, my daughter came back to the lorry with the news that we’d got a really good score. She mentioned 75% but I refused to believe it. The entire class (and it was big) had finished by the time Rupert gave up and walked on the lorry. I went back to look at the score board and it was true! We’d absolutely smashed it, winning the class by a long way with lovely comments from the judge. This was the kind of score that I have only ever dreamed about. The frustration of the loading issue quickly dissipated and I drove back to the yard with the biggest grin.
A whole 24 hours later and it still doesn’t seem real. Did that actually happen? I keep looking at the test sheet to check! I am sure I’ll come down to earth with a bump later – time for loading practice I think.