We did it!! Wobbleberry BE80 challenge finally complete! Or is it?

5 June 2021

If you're reading this blog you probably know that a very long time ago - back in in October 2016 - still day-dreaming of ever Eventing again, I signed up to the 'Wobbleberry Challenge'.

The objective of the challenge was to complete a British Eventing BE80 competition and raise money for the Willberry Wonder Pony charity, set up in memory of a very brave and talented young teenage eventer - Hannah Francis - who sadly lost her battle with bone cancer in August 2016. This inspiring young lady wanted to help others with the same diagnosis and so her family helped her set up Wilberry Wonder Pony Charity to both raise funds towards vital research into osteosarcoma and to help other seriously ill people by making their equine related wishes come true.

And again, if you're reading this blog you'll know that it was my mum's own diagnosis of secondary bone cancer that was the catalyst for doing the challenge. However, shortly after signing up, my (then new) horse Obi - not the school master he had been sold as - reared up and over on me on the road out hacking. I lost the day, never to remember it, split my hat but actually I think was lucky to walk away with just a head injury. I also perhaps unsurprisingly, completely lost my confidence and eventually it was obvious the ‘new’ partnership wasn't going to work out.

But I never let go of the challenge. And so from September 2018, I started again with the lovely Freddie. We had to start from the beginning, just as we were ‘ready’, Covid-19 stopped play. But I’m delighted to say that on 5 June 2021 we finally completed a BE80 course (albeit run under British Riding Clubs not BE). However, to truly complete the challenge I need to a) raise some funds for the charity and b) jump the course under a BE banner.

So rather a long winded way of saying – please sponsor me and Freddie as we live the dream of eventing and raise money for a good cause.

The day

It would be remiss of me not to actually detail the day. Despite crippling nerves, we arrived on the showground and yes - I did have to pull over to be sick on the driveway. My friend, mentor and instructor Jayne, kept me sane. We have a technique in NLP called parts negotiation, when one bit of you really wants to do something and another part really doesn't you get 'each side of your mind' to agree to meet half way.

Miss anxiety who wanted to go home, was prepared to agree that we could stop at any time. Miss Do-or-die who thought Miss anxiety was being a total party-pooper and wet blanket 'appeared' to agree. But then since I knew deep down I was going to do the whole thing, Miss anxiety got all stressed knowing 'she' was being hoodwinked and thus ensued another bout of trembling and being sick.

And so I rang home and said 'don't look for the results I'm not doing this' to which Ewen and Jayne said just do the dressage and see how you feel.

With an hour to wait, I mellowed and when I was onboard a very calm sensible Freddie warming up for the dressage and watching the show jumping and seeing the starters XC, Miss Anxiety quieted and I knew I was in for the day.

The dressage

Freddie, although outwardly calm, is still working through these big events and so goes a little into himself. He did a polite but not very forward dressage test to get a score of 36. The test started with 6.5's and 7's but received just 6's for the last four moves.

The show jumping

Whilst very kind and inviting with very few fillers - the SJ was causing a lot of bother at jump 2. Fred took it on fine but we got too deep at fences 3 and 4 (both spreads) and just clipped the front poles, to then finish the course in a lovely flow.

The cross country

I was a little concerned that Freddie wouldn't understand the 'question' at jump 7 - a meaty old 'dog kennel' with holes in, on top of a short bank. So before I set off I said if it got a bit hairy (not having actually competed XC at this height and only doing 2 together in Fred's life) that I would pull up and try another day.

I didn't ride with the watch as Jayne and I agreed to focus on the course not the time and I did set up quite some way back or each fence. But Freddie's attitude and competence blew me away. As we skipped over jump 7, over the drop, the water, the haycart, the double of barns, the ditch and skinny roll top combo and my first ever gate (jump 13) I thought blimey, we just might come home clear. Which I think is always the catalyst for a 'whoops' moment. As Freddie took off for Jump 14 (a log on a bank), for some inexplicable reason, he suddenly stopped mid air, with his front half over and his back legs left behind. After a couple of seconds we manoeuvred forward and off the log with no penalties other than time. However slightly put out of rhythm I over managed the next fence, bouncing him too short which allowed him time to spook at the jump judges car and ultimately run past the fence. The easiest fence on course. But we popped it second time and came home through the brush and corner combo (again in the light dark line of the trees) easily, finally taking a proper flier over the last. We finished with 20 jumping faults and 26 time faults, being just over a minute over the time. But I know that we easily had the turn off speed and next time we can match the boldness to the course time. Super Fred

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