It’s the middle of March and the entries for Badminton 2012 are now closed. The next few days are slightly tense for all those who have entered as we are now impatiently awaiting the accepted list of entries to be published by the organisers. For many years now Badminton has always had more entries than are accepted and various systems to deal with this and varied forms of wait lists have existed in the events history. Although I’m pretty confident that Inonothing and myself have got enough points to be accepted, I still await the entries list eagerly to see who the competition for this years’ event are and so be able to start to size up the chances for glory once again!
During the end of February we had an Australian Eventing Team Training Camp for 4 days at the Unicorn Centre at Stow on the Wold. This is where the Australian Eventing Team are planning to hold our pre-Olympics Training Camp, so this was a dress rehearsal for that. With many team officials over from Australia we were put through our paces and examined very thoroughly from many different aspects. The 4 days were very useful to get everybody motivated and focused on improving our performances up to gold medal standards. All concerned were very impressed with Inonothing’s performance over the 4 days which certainly gave the whole Tapner Eventing Team a good morale boost.
The 2012 Eventing season has kicked off again around the world and with Tweseldown Open Intermediate as my first run, it was hardly a glamorous start for us. However the weather was kind to us, which when in the UK during March, does make a really big difference to the atmosphere from everybody’s aspect. Which actually is just as well, because for the first time ever when competing at Tweseldown, I found myself noticeably and strangely nervous….it was 18 months since my last competition XC round on Inonothing at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky which was a disaster that I’d actually prefer to forget, the nerves were certainly telling me that I really didn’t want this XC round to be another disaster that I’d again want to forget.
After a good enough dressage test and a highly enjoyable clear show jumping round, we fired out of the XC start box and sailed over the first 2 fences, as I rounded the corner to have the third fence come into my view, the jump judge was hustling over to the fence with red flag in hand, my first thought was “This is the last thing I need right now”, which was quickly followed by “Oh no, Jenny can’t see what’s happened”. Inonothing’s owner Jenny Waaler was in the usual viewing position up on the mound, which at Tweseldown gives the spectators a view of probably 90% of the course, but not of this particular jump that I had been stopped at to allow for some fence repair further on in the course. I knew that she was already pretty stressed about the whole day and that on not seeing me arrive at the next fence she would immediately panic about the well being of Inonothing. Nothing I could do about it now though, I just had to focus on keeping Inonothing from getting distracted and myself from getting nervous again. Thankfully once we were re-started I quickly grew in confidence, as it became apparent that this was just like a walk in the park for Inonothing. Although on my part, it did take most of the course to get used to riding a horse that is not even remotely strong to the bridle again, I found myself telling him to slow down in front of a fence only to think an instant later “not that much” and then having to push on again at the fence, but he coped with my rustiness just fine with an easy and fast enough clear round. As I expected we were greeted through the finish line by a noticeably emotionally stressed Jenny; “Is he OK? What’s wrong with him? Oh my God! I thought he’d broken down when you were stopped, are you sure he’s OK? Oh my God…..”. I think she was back to normal the next day!
At the end of the day at Tweseldown when I confided in some of my colleagues about my nervousness about riding XC on Inonothing, none of them really gave me any sympathy, but just rebuked me with a few different versions of; “I wish I was riding a Badminton winner around here, what have you got to worry about!” Thankfully I had nothing to worry about and so now I’m totally ready to get back to winning form, first stop Aldon Advanced Intermediate then Belton CIC***, both of which Inonothing has won before, so bring it on!