curse but they both said to me, “Hayley, if you can get around this course, you can get around any WEG!” Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that was the best way of starting off the event! I thought to myself, I can either walk around the course this evening and know what Cuppi and I are in for, or leave it until tomorrow morning after a good sleep. So I decided to walk the course, in the pouring rain!
best with mistakes in the flying changes, but overall, I was pleased. We had a riders briefing after dressage where we were informed that horrendous weather conditions were coming in, with hail and thunder storms expected all day for cross-country. I couldn’t believe that they were expecting that kind of weather when Dressage day had been reasonably clear!
Next day was trot-up and my mum arrived from South Africa to come and support. Cuppi was really good in the trot up but was really spooky with all the crowds; the trot-up can be as well supported as any of the other phases of competition, so there is a real atmosphere!
Well, the Brits can certainly predict the weather well! It rained and rained and rained, all day! There was a point when I was watching a couple of riders and couldn’t even see them go past, it was raining so heavily! I was on very late in the day so was concerned about the going. The senior class of CCI3*’s were a complete wipeout with many falling, retiring, being eliminated, breaking frangible pins etc. I decided at one point to stop watching and focus purely on Cuppi and what we needed to do to make this happen.
My mum and I walked around the course together and I was really interested to hear what she thought about it. She was absolutely silent throughout walking which I know means she is nervous! The course was big, technical, required absolute focus from both horse and rider and would reward those who rode with a plan. I walked line after line, trying to work through all scenarios of how the jumps could possibly ride. I imagined myself riding through the lines and being able to react to anything that happened while jumping. This is a technique I use when walking courses to help me get my mind away from nerves and actually get on with what I need to do.
My warm-up for the cross-country did not go to plan; the warm-up jumps were in the same place as they had been the whole day, so the mud was very difficult to jump out of. Every time I thought I saw a stride, I was off my distance as the mud was sucking Cuppi in. I eventually decided to stop jumping as I felt that it wasn’t doing Cuppi or me any good. There were several holds in starting as riders in my class were either falling or breaking frangible pins, which meant I was on him for longer than I wanted.
Friday was dressage day. Cuppi’s dressage has really improved and we are working on refining movements and patterns. He was I was number 110 to go and was watching a couple go off from the incredible in the warm-up but when he got into the main ring, start when all of a sudden, a French man came running up to me, the arena felt like I was riding through a ploughed field! He did his pointing at my stop watch and begged if his rider, who was Issue 19 SPORTING HORSE