With all the excitement building for the British Riding Clubs Nationals Championships - it soon crept upon us.
Brian went for a sleepover at his girlfriends house the evening before we travelled as on the Friday we were hoping to be on the road for 8am.
Friday came and both horses were loaded, we were on the road and set off for Lincoln at 7.50.
All was going well (after a Subway and Krispy Kreme stop) until Gem’s car decided it didn’t want to play tow vehicle anymore and cut off its engine.
Thankfully we managed to drift onto a lay-by on the side of the A46 (only 40 miles from our destination!)
Gem’s car has a swanky ‘Landrover Assist’ button which she simply pressed and a lady started talking through the car. Within about 2 hours we had a Lorry to pick up the horses and Gem had a lovely new Range Rover sport to continue our journey with.
Anyhow... we got to Lincolnshire Show Ground around 18.45 and unloaded the horses to declare. They were impeccably behaved considering they had been in travel for almost 12 hours. Both horses were walked around on a long line for a good amount of time to stretch their legs.
We then hopped on board about an hour later for a nice walk around the grounds and a little trot and canter to open them up - both were happy and sound which was an absolute blessing.
We fed them and tucked them up for the night with a nice big bed and lots of snacks.
Walking the courses proved interesting as by the time we got to that it was pitch black, so striding by torchlight was a new experience for me! Finally we got around to feeding ourselves at 21.45 at night, I didn’t even fancy having a proper drink - I only managed HALF a tin of Jack Daniels and coke!!!
Saturday morning the alarm went off and it was all systems go! Horses were given an early breakfast to fill their tummies for their busy day.
Gem was on early for her first class and I was obviously #TopGroom for her as she was plaiting and sorting Flame. She jumped a beautiful clear round and then had to wait for her next class.
I then ran off to sort out Princess Brian who was in his stable absolutely trembling with excitement. I tacked him up and he was SUPER excited about jumping, he felt it was impossible to walk from the trailer to the arena but it was fun to sit too. We warmed up and he was keen as hell - but he was listening and it felt amazing.
We got called into our arena and off goes the bell. We had everything going for us until we were going down through a one stride double and Brian was unable to get his grip for take off and we skidded through the fence, off goes the bell and the fence was rebuilt, then we attempted it again and it jumped it beautifully! I felt truly gutted for him in the first round as he was really enjoying himself but the ground just didn’t allow us take off.
Cooled him down and popped him back in the stable as our second round wasn’t for another 4 hours. I then ran off to help Gem with her other classes, man were they pinging over those fences! Seeing your friends going around with the biggest grin on their face is the best feeling ever.
An hour before my class - the heavens opened, and boy did it rain! It rained solidly for about an hour and the dread of riding without studs made my stomach turn a little.
I was about to get Brian ready for our next round and Gem had a call from her team members telling her to get ready as they as a team had WON the Style which made them The Style National Champions! #Area19
Unfortunately (maybe selfishly) this left me on my own to warm up as their mounted presentation was the same time as my second round. Brian was again keen as ever but the ground was slippery, we started our round and skidded towards the first fence, but he jumped it. We then steadily went around the course until we approached number 9 which was a treble on a slight slope downhill - Brian’s legs slipped out slightly and he refused, we then approached it again but Brian skidded, I took the decision to Retire from the round as I didn’t want to attempt it a 3rd time. His legs and confidence are my priority and clearly he wasn’t happy with the ground. In hindsight I should’ve just studded up, and maybe our result would’ve been different. Brian was superb and I wouldn’t of changed anything about how lovely he went - he was just telling me he wasn’t happy with the ground and neither was I (and this isn’t me slating the Lincolnshire Showground or BRC, I’m just saying that I wish I had studs in). 36 other horses also either Withdraw, got Eliminated or Retired in the second round so I don’t feel so guilty.
Brian happily waited in his stable for Flame to return next door. Along came Gem and Flame looking VERY smart in their Sash and Rosette, god was I proud!!
Horses were done so obviously that meant it was time to do some shopping! First stop was the NAF stand where Brian got spoilt and I did buy him a big bag of treats and some liquid electrolytes.
Sunday morning came - horsey breakfast time! We the. walked the horses around to stretch their legs, stables were mucked out before loading up and making our way home. Travelling back was smooth and easy, Brian was returned home and given a lovely big feed. It was safe to say he was glad to be back with his field companion.
This weekend was immense, even though I didn’t get the result I wanted - I was super chuffed for all of the Area 19 Style team who absolutely aced it!