A Visit to Wales

On May 6, 2013 by Sarah Lewis

I set off for Chepstow on Wednesday morning after a major pack-up. It is an easy journey and I was strangely (and as it turned out mistakenly) excited driving over the Severn Bridge into Wales. With EHV virus on the loose we had quite a long wait for the Biosecurity Vets to take the horses’ temperatures, and then I found their boxes, bought them some more shavings and unpacked before giving them all a quick ride to settle them in and loosen them up. Neither Emma or Biscuit had stayed at a show before and were very excited by having so many neighbours. Luckily they were in quite modern temporary stables as the wooden ones opposite were extremely inclined to fall apart. My trustiest steed for the week was Sophie’s bicycle which got me round the showground with minimum impact on my leg and ferried me back and forth to my bed and breakfast in Caldicot.
Having completed a 1.30 at Felbridge on Ferro for one down in the jump-off without feeling too terrified or incompetent, I took all three horses to Crofton Manor for a change of scene before we went off to Chepstow.  All three jumped well:  Biscuit was 3rd in the Newcomers and had one down in the Foxhunter, Emma just had the last fence in the Foxhunter jump-off and Ferro was placed in the 1.20. I then had a lesson on all three horses to make sure I hadn’t slipped into any bad habits:  Shane was fairly vociferous about the way I was riding Emma – so it was obviously just in the nick of time!

On Thursday Emma jumped double clear in the six year olds, Biscuit jumped double clear in the 1.20 and Ferro had one fence in the 1.25, matters were reversed on Friday when Emma and Biscuit had a pole a piece and Ferro jumped clear. We didn’t jump on Saturday as all three classes were speed classes, and much as Emma & Biscuit think they are speed horses I am keen to discourage them. It was really good for them to hack out round the show ground and not jump a single fence. First thing Sunday Biscuit jumped a fantastic double clear in a full-up 1.20 on grass, Ferro was very forward going on grass, taking me rather by surprise and having two down. We then had a very long wait for the six year old grand prix. It was great to sit in the sun and watch the big tour Grand Prix, then watch Badminton and the 1,000 Guineas before finally  the decision was made to move the six year olds onto the grass to avoid jumping them in the dark. Having sat around for several hours it was then full speed ahead to dig out the stud holes and rather a rush to jump. Like Ferro, Emma was also a bit free on grass and just had the last part of the combination.

My sense of humour was somewhat frayed by lack of certainty about what the classes were every day, and constant journeys to check running orders, culminating in waiting all Sunday to notOn the plus side, although the total prize winnings of the team barely paid for the coffee I drank over five days, it will certainly have been a hugely educational experience for Biscuit and Emma  - so hopefully we will see some benefit at Windsor this week. The Lychgate at Caldicot is the most lovely B&B, and an easy bike ride through the castle grounds for even the most ancient and disabled cyclist, and as always I found enough friendly faces to pass the time with. There was an interesting event on at the Castle – Fortress Wales – where Cowboys & Indians; Confederates & Unionists; English, Americans and Germans; and Roundheads and Cavaliers gathered for their battle re-enactments on Sunday. Meeting a 17th Century soldier in full battle dress with a West Highland Terrier on a lead at 7 o’clock in the morning is a slightly strange experience, and at the height of the battles on Sunday the stables were almost shaking from the volume of the various explosions.

Today has been a perfect day: it has been beautifully warm and the horses  had several hours relaxing in the field while we have watched the drama at Badminton unfold. A fantastic all-round performance for Jock Paget and Clifton Promise who have been waiting in the wings for some time now.  The only thing that has been working over time today is the washing machine – nearly ready for Windsor and a very early start on Wednesday.
jump in the main ring! As I drove back over the Severn Bridge I was very relieved that they don’t charge you to leave Wales – I made a pretty healthy contribution to the Welsh economy over five days. However, overall I hope the benefit to the horses’ experience will have been well worth the effort.

Ferro relaxing after Windsor

Ferro relaxing after Windsor