With Dan’s persistent rise to greatness, I felt it was time to expand his fan base, and let some really prominent members of society bask in the glow of our awesomeness. What better way to do it than to go have little pop round the Queens back garden at Smiths Lawn Horse Trials?
Now, eventing on a weekday and so late in the afternoon, threw me completely. I could actually go to work for the morning first (lucky me), while Dan’s owner, Claire, got him all spick and span and ready to go.
So we get to the Windsor great park, and drive ever onwards down the longest drive I have ever seen, past some of the most beautiful lakes and water courses, to arrive at the lawns beside Guards Polo Club. This is already starting to feel grand enough for even our over developed egos.
We headed off to the dressage with plenty of time and warmed up beautifully, he was soft and balanced and sashayed his way around the warm up like Shakira ballroom dancing. Our time came and we headed to our arena…… just as the heavens opened. We had approximately 3 meters of rain in 4 and a half minutes, then it stopped with the end of my test (well… nearly), but Dan pulled a cracking test out of the bag with only one moment of silliness losing us a couple of marks.
So now is the moment I never look forward to, the dreaded show jumping….. and what a challenging course it appeared to be (the course builder was obviously a mad man that took inspiration from a knotted ball of string), with everything seeming to be related off of a difficult turn (I actually almost got lost and had to come right back to find the 4th jump!). But what a course it turned out to be! Ignoring my little sat nav failure, it was a beautiful round. The course really encouraged you to think and ride, and we finished on a mere 4 faults! That course builder really knew what he was doing.
Then it was the moment we had been waiting for, Cross Country, and we had the honor of being the last to go (although it was verging on getting dark by this point). The course was beautifully presented and bang up to height, with some challenges and questions, although it was a little shorter than I am used to. The course rode fantastically and Dan flew round the course hitting every stride perfectly and maintaining a perfect rhythm all the way. Until the woods. Going last had it’s perks (like being the only one on the course for the commentator to focus on, lol) but it has its down side as well. It was so gloomy in the woods that we had to slow right down……… for the first time, Dan had to trot on a cross country course! This led to us being a few seconds over time and claiming a couple of penalties.
Now our final score put us in 22nd place, which is not wonderful. But our score was only 15 points behind first place in a very competitive section, how could I not be pleased with that! His dressage was great, his show jumping epic, and his cross country was awesome, and I am sure I saw the Queen give us a wave as she walked her corgis; all in all, it was a bloody good day!