A Horse Crazy Lady Goes To Badminton
I’ve always had a love affair with Badminton. From being a young lady who would eagerly await the latest edition of my horse magazines, just to read how the boldest made it round, to endless summer afternoons with horse crazy friends, jumping over fences made from bricks and broomsticks, pretending we we’re Lucinda Green on George. To being an adult, and staying up all night, glass of wine in hand, watching the cross country, and holding my breath as they jumped the Vicarage V!
Simply receiving my tickets in the mail was enough to send me into endless excitement! The countdown was on and we were actually going to be there, in the crowd, watching some of my hero’s ride the course!
After a few weeks of our gorgeous European holiday, we made our way to the South West and Badminton! It had been pouring down in the 24 hours before the event, and we were worried that it would be cancelled as so many events had been in the six months before in the UK.
On Friday we attended the dressage. I was completely awe inspired watching my hero Mark Todd execute a beautiful dressage test. I may have developed a little crush on Alexander Bragg when he rode past me before his test and gave me a huge smile.
But the highlight of my Friday, and possibly of the whole event, was doing the course walk with my idol, Lucinda Green. I was so star struck seeing her, that my 10 year old son had to ask her if I could have a photo with her. Of course, being the amazing human she is, she said yes, and we had a chat and a photo. Working in cinema for 10 years and meeting some of the biggest in Hollywood, I don’t fangirl easily. Needless to say, I was crying while we had the photo taken, so much so, Lucinda gave me a huge hug afterwards. Made me cry more of course!
Having the insight on the course with Lucinda was amazing. She spoke about the bond a horse and rider had to have to be at that level, and how as riders, it is all about the love and respect we have for our horses. She told us anecdotes of the days she rode the course, and of her daughter Lissa, but something she said stuck with me being a nervous rider. “If anyone tells you they are not nervous before they set off on this course, they’re lying.”
13km’s of walking done, a Pimms and soft serve in hand, we waved goodbye to the huge course, and to Lucinda (who waved back, another fan girl moment!) and got a good night’srest before the cross country.
Up early and at Badminton before the traffic had a chance to build up – hello coffee van at 8am – we were ready for a day of excitement.
Walking from fence to fence, we saw Toddy head off early with amazing ride on Leonidas. Making our way to Huntsman’s close, we spend quite some time watching horse and rider tackle the tricky fences in the notoriously dark combination.
Fence eight, Wadsworths Water, proved a fantastic fence to get some great shots of riders coming in over a big drop into the water.
Towards the end of the day, we made our way to the fence that has always given me the heebie jeebies, the Vicarage V. We had a fantastic vantage point, and having seen the fence up close the day before, I seriously had my heart in my throat.
Of the combinations we watched, two didn’t make it safely over the fence, with falls and eliminations. It is such a steep angle, and huge ditch, I had no idea how those who rode it made it through.
We were eagerly awaiting Jonty Evans and his mount Cooley Roorkes Drift. I considered our family to have a part share in the horse, having donated to his Go Fund Me page some time ago. Unfortunately, the combination became beached, but due to their cool heads, no one was injured. (As a side note, Jonty had a serious fall at Tattersalls some weeks later and has just regained consciousness. Our family wishes him a speedy recovery).
All in all, Badminton was the most amazing horse event we’ve ever been too. The fences are more daring up close, than on the TV, and so are the riders. The atmosphere is brilliant, nothing compares to a horse event in the UK. If you ever get the chance, it is a must!