National Championships 2019
A Rookie’s Experience of BRC Champs by Julia Hicks
This year I had my first experience of the Riding Clubs championships at Lincoln, taking part in the riding test and style jumping team competitions.
We set off on Friday lunch time with car and trailer full to the brim. As we had to take shavings and hay there was no room for mucking out tools or wheelbarrow so I had to hope that I would be able to borrow what I needed (thanks Libby). The journey to Lincoln took far longer than we expected as the traffic was horrendous.
The site is huge, I had no idea of the scale of it - how many people & horses would be there, or how far it would be from the lorry park to the stables and arenas. However, it was very well organised and all the officials were friendly and helpful. It felt as if it took hours to get booked in, cart stuff from the trailer to the stables, put shavings down, fill water buckets and wet hay before I could get Lolly tacked up and exercised for the day. The next problem then became obvious. Stupidly, I hadn’t brought our shoeing appointment forward and although they were all fine when we set off, she had a loose shoe – by now I felt like going straight home as although there would be a farrier on site the next day my dressage was at 9.02, he wasn’t due to be there until 8.30 and I just couldn’t see how it was going to work. I couldn’t work her that evening, so I was worried that she’d be too full of beans the next day. I was assured that my time could be altered but then how would I fit in my compulsory ‘volunteer’ stewarding duty? By the time she was settled into her stable, we had walked the course for the next day & we left for our b&b it was dark, I was shattered and a bit despondent, feeling that I wouldn’t be able to ride the next day and it had all been a complete waste of time.
On the day it all went well though. I cheered up, we got back to site in good time, plaited, tacked up & got dressed before heading over to the farrier who was there early. He fixed the shoe and we made it to the dressage for our original time, albeit with collar turned up & bits of stock flapping, as kindly pointed out by the tack check lady. Lolly was very excited while working in but the test went well and I was happy to score 73%.
I took her back to the trailer and leaving her to graze under the supervision of my mother, dashed off to do my 45mins duty on the crossing gate.
After that there was a little time to take a breath before the style jumping. She seemed to have calmed down and was in sensible mode in the working in. It was just a pretense though as the moment we walked into the ring she was raring to go. I managed to keep a lid on her while we saluted the judge and rode a figure of eight and then we were both happy to get jumping. She flew round, perhaps a little faster than ideally, but jumped beautifully and her shoes stayed on - mainly by will power.
Finally, time to muck out and I retrieved a bag full of clean shavings to take home. A small bonus.
I went over to the secretary’s tent to find out how we were doing at which point three of the four riding test team members’ scores were up and no style jumping. I couldn’t make out how we were doing compared with other teams, the person I asked didn’t know what time the presentations were planned for and in dread of an equally long journey home, and very tired, we decided to leave then. As it turned out, the team were third in the style and so were part of the mounted presentation and we missed it. I was sorry not to have been there but relieved to have left before the heavens opened and to get home in decent time. Sue kindly collected the huge rosette, sash and NAF voucher for me so I have proof that we did it!
In all, it was a long way to go and hard work but worth it for the experience and now I know the important things to remember if going again: allow plenty of time, then allow more time; set off early; squeeze a wheelbarrow in somehow if only for transporting things; explore the site on Friday evening so you know where everything is; consider staying Saturday night too and, obviously, don’t set off with shoes on their limit!