Every month I say “this month has been even busier than last month” but guess what….this month has been quieter!!! And we have almost battened down the hatches for winter….almost! Let me fill you in on September’s adventures, there’s been some fabulous high points and one very scary low point, but at the same time it could have been sooooo much worse.

We’ll begin on the weekend of 1st September at the British Riding Club’s National Championships, what a whole heap of drama and this is where our scary moment comes in. Should I start with…

a) it’s a good job 7th is a pretty colour rosette.
b) did you know you don’t have the 30 miles I thought you did left in the diesel tank when your warning light comes on.
c) thank god for iCandy prams

Well let’s go from the beginning. That’s easy, that’s b) on my list. About 10 miles down the road and we came to a bunny hoppy stop after going up a steep hill and my question of “will we get to the fuel station with the light on?” was answered. Luckily some lovely elderly people quickly stepped up to the challenge of rescue mission and took my friend,  Nikee Hudson, to the closest fuel station, where she proceeded to buy a diamond encrusted fuel can for £18!!!!! Filled up and luckily when we put the fuel in the lorry it fired up third time and we didn’t require a rescue service to bleed the tank. I am never letting it get that low EVER again! And on our way we went.

Once we finally arrived everything seemed to be going well. Oh hold on a minute we missed an incident which happened on route…have you ever had a Buffalo Wrap from McDonald’s?! No? Well don’t! Oh you have, then you feel my pain…I may as well of eaten a 1000 chillies! Ask Nikee, there was literally fire coming out of my mouth. So back at Lincoln all is good, ponies all got exercised, walked round the show ring to find all our arenas, had a fabulous dinner cooked by Mummy Fishburn, watched TV in Queen Wendy, firstly got entertained by a very excitable orange kid aka HRH that didn’t want to go to bed, secondly got entertained by watching Nikee get into her bed which is the top bunk in Wendy that has never been used, it’s very high and very tight, lights off and sleep.

On to Saturday, we had all our times and arenas and plan mapped out and everything seemed to be going pretty well. I had 7 possibly 9 things to ride in if everything went well. First up was Percy in the 100 SJ, simples, clear round and I’m lead to believe one of very few having heard that someone watched for half an hour and didn’t see one clear. Onto Florence in the 90 SJ, simple, another clear. A quick rush over to the next arena on Florence to jump another clear in the 85 Style Jumping.

And then an equally quick change around on to Percy for N27, with only a quick warm up he pulled a lovely test out of the bag. A little bit of a breather before Nikee swapped on to Percy and I hopped on Florence for the Pairs Dressage. Apart from Florence trying to barge her brother out of the arena at one point, I was really pleased with our test. Next I headed back to the 100 SJ with Percy to pop round for another clear. Then another quick swap on to Florence for the 90 SJ and another clear round. So the day is going very smoothly and all the horses performing beautifully. And then things started going a little crazy. I now had both Florence and Percy in their jumps offs after both jumping double clears. The classes ended up clashing and I’d got the wrong horse ready first and they were calling me for the other class but luckily Carol Meade stepped up to the challenge of putting the commentator straight when he said I’d withdrawn Florence from the 90. I got Percy’s jump off jumped first just catching an unlucky rail. Nikee had run and got Florence down from the stables, so I got her warmed up, quickly learnt my 7th course of the day, went for it but unfortunately lowered 2 rails. And breath, that brings our day to a close, with a 4th in the Style Jumping out of over 50 competitors, even though they had added my sheet up wrong and had me down as last. Carol to the rescue again got them to add it up again and find they were 70 marks out. Our Team Weaver were also 6th. 9th in the 90 SJ out of 86 competitors and 7th in the 100 SJ out of 80 competitors, both could have been 2nd if I’d left the fences up in the jump off, 7th in the Novice 27 with a 66.43% out of over 30 competitors, could have been 5th if I hadn’t been penalised by two marks for only putting one bridle number on, when did that rule come in?!  Very annoying when you only have to wear one back number! And finally another 7th in the Pairs Dressage with a mark of 96. So that wraps up a) about 7th being a good colour rosette, I like turquoise and god job cause I had 3 of them, a few dramas affecting scores but overall for a National Championships some great results.

And now we come to c) about the iCandy prams. Well it all started when I lost Mum and Harriet, I wondered where they had got to after the pairs dressage, as usual Mum was being a star pushing Harriet, controlling 2 dogs and being on photographer duty, but after my 5th class of the day she seemed to disappear. When ever I asked people where she was they were like “over there” or “over there” or “changing HRH” etc…well I just believed everybody and got on with riding. Then when I finally got back to the lorry having finished riding I came across a smashed tub of Equerry Minty Treats that I had only just filled up in morning and put in the bottom of the pram to treat my horses between classes. I went to find Mum and find out what had happened. I found her sat with Hayley Mayer’s parents having a glass of wine looking somewhat emotional, whilst Harriet crawled round the floor like the jolly baby that she is. When I asked her what had happened to the treats she replied with “you’ve not heard then?!” This is where things get scary…turns out whilst walking back from the pairs dressage Carol Meade, Mum and Harriet had been ploughed into my an out of control horse with a rider on-board.

Carol and Mum were knocked to the floor and the horse hit Harriet’s iCandy pram, snapping the handle in two places and bending the chassis which caused the seat part of the pram to become unattached, luckily throwing Harriet, still harnessed in her seat out of the way of the weight of the horse which came down on Carol’s arm. Apparently Harriet was screaming in shock and was quickly attended to by paramedics who spent an hour with her making sure she was okay. They said that there are only two prams that would withstand the sort of collision they had had and iCandy was one of them, and that if Harriet had been in anything else the outcome could have been a whole different story. To say I was shocked at what I was hearing is an understatement. And to think that whilst all this was going on I was busy playing ponies and knew nothing about it. Everyone seemed to know apart from me. Carol had even managed to bring me my whip that had been in the pram and not let on what had happened and Nikee was aware to. They just decided because Harriet was actually unharmed they would just let me carry on with my classes, otherwise I would have just got totally stressed out and not been able to focus on riding. What an amazing bunch of friends I have. Had I have listened to the commentator properly earlier who announced I’d withdrawn, before shouting for help to let them know I hadn’t withdrawn, what he actually said was “Oh it appears Bonnie Fishburn has withdrawn, she has taken her daughter to hospital” how lucky is it I didn’t listen to everything he said, I would have been beside myself with worry!

So that was our report of the BRC National Championships 2018 and I’m pleased to say our 113 mile journey home was totally without drama!

The following weekend was not totally our day today at South View for the Amateur Championships 2nd round. Florence pinging round for a beautiful clear in the first round but in the jump off having jumped the first fence she locked on to fence 2 from the first round, so when I pulled her off it to jump fence 13 she got in a fluster and we had a fence down. Finishing 10th out of 33 starters, only the top 8 qualified, so close but so far.

The Saturday after our day started at 3.30am and didn’t finish until 10.30pm at night, we made the trip up to North Yorkshire to compete at Allerton Park Horse Trials and what a pleasure it was to compete at such a beautiful estate. On the Wednesday before when I was suddenly struck down with the dreaded sickness bug which is going around I couldn’t see me going anywhere!!!! I hadn’t eaten properly for 3 days and was totally exhausted but we did it. First up was the wonderful Elfie, a couple of mistakes which included a big stumble on the entry to our dressage test but generally a nice test for 32. Then SJ he felt fantastic, but we just got long into a double at fence 10 lowering a pole. Then XC I decided to not ride him like a baby anymore and let him take me round to see what happened. The Ian Stark course was beautifully presented and Elfie totally aced it. Giving me a super ride and I didn’t feel I had to help him out anywhere. So chuffed to come home about 8 seconds under the optimum time with ease. What a fabulous horse he is turning in to.

Unfortunately the fence down cost us 7 places but I was still over the moon. Then it was on to the super special Percy. A sweet test for 33 putting us into the top ten to start the day, then SJ he totally pinged his way round clear like the star that he is. On to the cross country which was a really beautiful track with a few questions and some testing twisty terrain but he popped his was round there to, he does love a good gallopy park land track and galloped all the way to the line, but this was the day I decided I may just start wearing a stop watch at novice level because a pesky 2 seconds cost me 2 places, yes 0.8 time penalties for going too fast cost me TWO PLACES, that’s 2 seconds that I could have lost easily. But I’m still totally delighted with my boy for finishing 4th. A really lovely day out and great experience at a new event for us.

On to Friday 21st, well where do I begin…Friday at 1am in the morning I lay in bed listening to howling wind and torrential rain, was I in a rush to get up in the morning and go Eventing? The answer is NO! But somehow the Kelsall Hill Team managed to keep the show on the road and we were loaded up and on our way at 11am. Percy was running in the BE Novice and it was to be his last run of the season. The wind was blowing a gale as we did our dressage but totally unfazed (apart from the one flower pot that kept waving at him in the one corner) he did a lovely test for a 30.5 which left him in 6th spot. Off I went to walk the xc course, as if one corner isn’t enough there was 3 of them, yes THREE!

All in combinations, two on dog legs but I couldn’t worry about that yet I still had showjumping to get through. So off we went in howling winds and horizontal rain, he pulls a clear out of the bag, 1 of only 5 in our section. So on to xc, I put my watch on this week having gone to quick last week, not that I expected to be too quick here as it is usually quite tight on time with the banks and twists in the course. We set off at a super pace over the first 6 fences and then it was literally like hitting a brick wall as we turned back on ourselves into the wind!!! But heads down we got on with the job in hand. Chatting to him the whole way round as I do, telling him what fence we have coming up next and how we are going to jump it and I tell him if it’s a fence we have to respect which in this case was most of them. He’s going great guns, we are over the 3, yes THREE corners, and breathe, oh no take that back, we still have the 5’ almost 10’ drop fence, galloping in to it bold as brass “No Percy we have to pop off this one!! Wooooo!!!” landed safely and on we go. Remember I have a watch on as I come into the last fence, check it, 5.20 we have 1 second to get home, kick on and just over the time. Super pleased with him.

Walking back to the lorry feel rather cool after having a great spin, take my hat off and feel like a right moose, hat silk gone in the wind, Egghead alert…not so cool now, but still totally over the moon. Percy all washed off, walked off bandaged and clayed up, now off to find my daughter who the amazing Granny Lind had taken charge of for the day, pushing her round in her pram, growling at everyone, cutting a long story short, my Terrier(ist) dog, Betty Boo who has terrible tourettes has taught her to growl. So I check the score board…0.8 time penalties…not bad when only about 4 had made the time all day, 3 of which were the Worlds Number 1…Oliver Townend…more about him later. So totting the scores up with Granny Lind on our fingers and toes…pretty sure…am I seeing this right…we can’t be beaten. Not going to believe it until it’s there in black and white but I think we’ve won! We did, we only went and WON our last event of the season, knocking the World’s Number 1 into 2nd and 3rd. My homebred, home produced pony has done it! Delighted doesn’t come close to describing how proud this makes me. He now has enough points to upgrade to the next level, but we won’t think about that now, just enjoy the moment and worry about that next year. It’s days like this that we all do this sport for and why we carry on in tough times.

And as if Friday 21st  didn’t make me proud enough, Florence, not one to be out done, especially by her little brother, decided to keep a BIG smile on my face for a little bit longer. We headed to Maelor Equestrian Centre on Saturday 22nd for their BS Amateur Second Rounds. We first jumped in the 85cm class which she popped round the first round clear and then flew round the jump off clear in 26 seconds to take 3rd spot and picking up a ticket for the National Amateur Championships in November in Liverpool at Aintree. We then pulled on our brave pants and jumped in the 105cm class, which started at 110cm, that’s big when I’m on my little ginger pony. She jumped the first two a million miles too big but then we popped round the rest perfect for a good clear. Into the jump off, that’s 115cm now but again popped round clear in a good enough time for 2nd place picking up another ticket for the National Amateur Championships. What a weekend. What a pair of fabulous home bred ponies. Couldn’t be prouder. And a big thank you goes to Grandad Bob for coming along and taking charge of HRH.

And for my final outing of September I had a really enjoyable day at Eland Lodge Equestrian for the Horseware Ireland National Hunter Trials Finals. Nikee Hudson and I were doing the pairs on Frankie and Missy. They popped round easily just a little too quick keeping us out of the placings but we had a lovely day anyway. So nice catching up with friends and HRH’s friend’s flocked round to look after her having posted with offers of tea and cake in Queen Wendy for anyone that could lend a hand with baby duties. Not only does this bring us to the end of September, but also the end of our event season 2018. It’s been a difficult season with regards to the weather, a late start because of the wet and a long hot summer but overall my horses have done me proud and we’ve had some fantastic results. Roll on 2019.

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