Laura Barber’s Blog: The big Badminton blog!

This is the blog we’ve been itching to share … Laura Barber’s BIG BADMINTON update! Without further ado…

“It’s safe to say May was a fairly exciting month for us! We had been counting down to the BE Grassroots Championships since we qualified at the end of August, crossing our fingers that we would both get there in one piece! I’m not sure I completely believed it was going to happen until the weekend before when I actually had to start packing, and then all of a sudden it became very real!”

“We arrived at Badminton around midday on the Tuesday into gale force winds – the roofs of the temporary stables sounded like they could take off at any minute! I got Tally settled and then we headed off round the course with my instructor, in the pouring rain. I was pleased to see a technical, championship level course, and was very glad that we’d been running at BE100 to prepare, as it was the biggest BE90 course I’d ever seen!

Tally worked brilliantly that afternoon, and I got back to the lorry to find my amazing Team Tally support crew had decorated the living and there was cake a plenty – it was my birthday on the Thursday but it would’ve been rude not to start the celebrations a bit early!”

“I didn’t feel like I slept a wink overnight and wasn’t 100% convinced about going out into the weather the next morning!! The rain had held off for a while, but then the heavens well and truly opened just as we left the stables. I could barely hear a word my instructor was trying to say to me warming up through the driving wind and rain, and I was wet through within 5 minutes. I was thrilled with the test itself as Tally tried seriously hard for me in horrendous conditions – not spooking or dropping behind my leg at all – when he had every right to tell me to get lost!! I felt it could’ve scored a bit better than 35, but the standard was seriously high and the judges weren’t being overly generous.”

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“We had a 4 hour gap until show jumping so walked the course again, and it was safe to say it was causing plenty problems! The rain had eased by the time I went over to show jumping; however I think the gales had intensified! We jumped a good round and unfortunately just rolled two poles. I was disappointed but it turned out only 26 out of the 94 starters went clear in my class, which says something as all these combinations are also used to jumping clear! Tally didn’t spook at all and stayed forward, which are both major plus points as he simply couldn’t have coped with that environment even a year ago. You can see from the video how weather battered we were being – the jump wings had to be nailed into the floor!”

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“I headed over to the XC very determined to finish on a clear. I had to pinch myself at this point walking over to the main park through the welcome signs and onto the hallowed turf – we were about to go round actual Badminton!!”

“Out of the start box and Tally was very purposeful over the first three, and then we were suddenly into this massive field with Badminton House on our right, and the lake and tradestands on our left, with about 200 people watching!! He popped over the fish into water sweetly considering the problems it caused, but he was spooking left right and centre. The fences themselves weren’t the problem, but I could feel the occasion blowing his brain – by fence 10 I had to give him a reminder to get on with the job and start cantering properly, I didn’t do all of that fitness work for nothing!”

“We had 2 difficult combinations comprising of a corner and a coffin, which seemed to help Tally focus and his legs started to power underneath him as his confidence grew. He was never going to fly round as he just doesn’t have the breeding or the determination, but he finished strongly around the longest course he’s ever done, into a serious head wind for just 4 seconds over time. Oh…and we also went CLEAR!!!”

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“He was such a superstar and answered every question, even when he was facing sensory overload he just kept trying for me, and I literally couldn’t have been more proud. There was a time when this horse wouldn’t go over a pole on the floor, and there is nothing more satisfying than achieving something on a horse you produced yourself.”

“We had so many family and friends supporting us, and I’ve been totally overwhelmed by everybody’s kindness. It is wonderful being part of Team Horslyx and getting support from HQ and the other Brand Ambassadors – thank you again and I hope we did you proud!”

“Tally (and me!) had a bit of a rest post Badminton, but now we’re back out eventing again at BE100 and had a lovely trip around Rockingham Horse Trials last week. The plan for the rest of the summer is just to have some fun now the pressure’s off and enjoy getting some more experience around some bigger XC tracks – time for our next chapter to start!”