My first words on Saturday morning were ‘I don’t think I can actually move my legs’. Friday had been a busy day. I’m just in the process of upping my exercise again now that I am 10 months post hip replacement and feeling pretty invincible. Nevertheless, I had the motivation to crawl out of bed – it was Badminton cross country day!
We left home just after 8 with a rough journey time of about an hour. I had made the error of suggesting we leave at 7 in order to really beat the queues but that didn’t go down very well with driver Alex! We did hit traffic on the way into the trials but it was moving and I was excited so it didn’t matter. It did give us the opportunity to look back at pictures from 2 years ago (our last Saturday visit) to see that we had left an hour earlier and hadn’t hit any traffic.. who had the better idea eh?
I’ve done Badminton, I’ve done Burghley, Blenheim, HOYS, Your Horse Live, pretty much all the big horsey shopping opportunities and Badminton has got to be the best. I’ve had a big shopping list for pretty much the last year (!) so I’ve been saving my pennies in case I saw anything from the list at Badminton. I did! I managed to snaffle some HALF PRICE Tredstep Donatellos from Townfields Saddlers so that I finally have some smart black boots that fit my skinny calves. I also visited Emily Cole’s stand to treat Alex to some new oven gloves, Hiho for a new leather bracelet and Colne Saddlery to get some more bio reins and a bit for my spare bridle. At the end of the day I snuck back to Gibson’s Saddlery to try on/fall in love with Woof Wear’s new Fonte Verde Marvao’s in cognac.. woops!
Thank goodness we don’t have endless funds because we were very tempted by the Ifor Williams Eventa and basically all of the horse boxes. Badminton is the perfect place to dream big!
Despite the lasting effect on my bank balance (and probably a large percentage of the other visitors’), Badminton is not about the shopping. It is about over 50 supersonic horses and their brave riders, doing a dressage test (when all they want to do is jump), pinging around a showjumping course (when all they want to do is gallop) and flying around Badminton park over mental cross country obstacles! The later was what we witnessed on Saturday. We started walking the course at fence 6 and steadily made our way around from fence to fence, seeing a different rider at each.
The Shogun Sport Hollow (fence 10) was the first scary hairy one we saw – there were some big leaps over the ditch onto the bank the other side. The combination of the Outlander Bank at 13 and the allegedly straightforward Rolex Grand Slam Trakehner at 14 were the next to have me swearing in awe! The fence that gets me every time is undoubtedly the HorseQuest Quarry (at 30) – maybe I have an immense fear of banks!
Favourites for me were Ben Hobday on his newest super cob, Harelaw Wizard. He’s just so personable and I love his penchant for chunky horses with dinnerplate feet! I also love seeing Pippa going round, she was my idol when I was a child, sitting at home watching the TV and she still is now.
Last year (pre op) I went to Badminton on crutches so to be returning and walking the whole course (and shopping village) this year without any real problem was awesome. I did get to a point where I was dead on my feet and at that point we trundled off home, just in time to do some quick midwifery. Two years ago I hand raised four lambs and this year they are having their own lambs. Buttercup (one of my babies) was having a bit of trouble delivering what turned out to be a big bouncing baby girl so my small hands were drafted in to help. What a special end to a special day!