Saturday 4th May, at Badminton Horse Trials
I had been looking forward to this day for so long as I was going to join a course walk lead by Richard Meade which was a dream come true! But first I had to go for a run.
I left the hotel really early having had a very quick brekkie so I could arrive at the showground as soon as it opened, which I had been told would be 8am. As it happened I was even earlier and I arrived there at 7:30am fully expecting to have to wait 30 minutes but all the marshalls were there already and I just went straight in.
Some of the stalls were busy opening up, especially the food stalls who were doing a good trade in breakfasts. It was cold, wet and a bit windy but not too strong then - it certainly was later though. By the time I'd run across the car park my feet were soaking wet and I was glad I'd brought a long-sleeved base layer to wear under my running vest and some lightweight gloves.
I set off in a different direction this time, towards one of the practice arenas where several horses were being put through their paces. The man in the first photo very kindly struck a pose for me - he sounded as if he was a Kiwi but I don't know his name. Gorgeous horse and a lovely mover.
This person chose an arena far away from the crowds and I stopped to watch the pair for a few minutes.
Here's a view of Badminton House, the ancestral home of the Duke of Beaufort. It has been used as a film location.
Although it was nice to run around the grounds I found them a bit boring as the bits you are allowed in are all laid to grass, with a few large trees dotted around. Also, it was very flat and I actually prefer the undulating/hilly countryside where we live. I would have loved to look around their formal gardens but they are only open to the public at certain times of the year.
I wasn't alone in my early morning run either as I saw 8 other people out for a morning run - all men. I ran 5.62 miles and then headed back to the car to dry myself off and get changed.
I'd brought my jodhpurs and dubarry boots as they seemed appropriate for the occasion. These boots are so comfy and look good as new even though they are 10 years old and have been used for mucking out the horses, riding (on occasions), walking short distances and even gardening. I use Renapur leather balm to keep them looking good and to maintain the waterproofing. It's great on saddles too. I carried the scarf around in a carrier bag in case of further photo opportunities.
|Striking a pose at the ARUK stand|
This dog had brought his own version of a rucksack - how ingenious.
By the time we set off for the course walk it was blowing a gale and pouring with rain. Sarah nearly took off as her plastic cover-up was blowing around so much!
|Sarah and Dione huddled together to keep warm. Dione's carrying a bucket to collect money from people who join the group for the course walk.|
|These doggies very sensibly wore their jackets (you can tell it was windy 'cos their ears are blowing to one side!)|
|The ARUK team at the start of the walk. From left to right, Sue, Sarah, Richard, me, Dione with Mick peeping out between us (a thorn between 2 roses!!!)|
Richard gave a short introduction and then we were off. I haven't taken photos of all the jumps, just those that interested me. The course designers had fun with each one and you had to look carefully to spot their clever little touches.
|Look at the squirrel disappearing into the tree|
|Dione with a tree halo!|
|Richard was very good at explaining how he would approach each jump and pointing out interesting things en-route|
|Gorgeous dog and a sensible owner who brought his shooting stick to sit on|
|Love the hounds|
|Now for some real hounds!|
The photo of the hounds reminded me of one of the jumps, the Bullfinch (photo from Niamh's blog). It is made up of a solid base with bush on top that is several feet high and is meant to be jumped through, rather than over. It is a test of the horse's trust in the rider as he cannot see through to the other side and therefore does not know what he is jumping into. It replicates the uncut hedges that a horse would encounter when going cross-country when out hunting.
Each fence had a different corporate sponsor. You will notice the red and white flags on some of the jumps. This tells the riders that there is an alternate route they can take - one way is more tricky but faster, the other is easier but slower.
Thankfully the sun came out about half way round and so we all had to start peeling off the layers we'd worn to keep warm.
|Anyone for a pint?|
|The jumps into the lake|
|I liked the barge floating around in the lake|
|This was one of a series of jumps all decorated with assorted vegetables like horticultural show|
|It's amazing to think that the horses will jump through this, but they do|
|Richard explained that he would jump this at the joint of the knife (halfway up on the right) rather than through the middle|
|The 'staircase' tests a riders skills as they will have been galloping apace towards this but need to collect the horse to slow them for the first step whilst maintaining momentum to get them over the last step|
|The ARUK jump is hidden in the middle of here and was a series of logs|
|With my poster-boy near the ARUK jump|
|From a different angle (thanks Sarah) - you can see one of the log jumps to Richard's right|
Oh my, that was just a fabulous experience on so many levels!
For ARUK to have such a massive presence was fantastic and the coverage will hopefully encourage more companies to help. I don't know how much money was raised there yet but I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good total.
It was lovely to meet up with some of the ARUK Champions and it was especially nice to spend some time with Dione and Mick in a more relaxed atmosphere than when we usually meet (at conferences etc).
Now, back to the serious business of fund-raising and running. I'm now up to Day 19 of 111 of my running streak with a total of 138.90 miles run so far. My legs are holding up OK at the moment and I'm enjoying running across country now the ground's dried up a bit.
Knitting? Haven't done any since the week before the London marathon as I needed to make sure my neck and shoulders were nice and loose to cope with the strain and I'm still a wee bit stiff so won't be doing anything until Monday - next project will be for Lisa and Andrew's baby, Edmund but I'm not going to reveal what I'm knitting in case Lisa reads this. I've been promised tea and cake when I take it round so that's a good incentive to get knitting!
Crochet? Ditto to knitting but also because the base of my left thumb joint is especially sore at the moment, with arthritis, and crochet really aggravates it because of how I hold my yarn . I didn't do my Crochet Club pattern for last month so I'm a bit behind but will soon catch up - I'm a much faster at crochet than knitting.
Also, I've just splurged on some gorgeous DMC Petra Cotton Perle No.3 (I'll take a photo tomorrow) in some stunning colours 'cos I fancy doing a bit of scrumbling, or scumbling depending on whereabouts you are in the world, to make a summer cardigan or jumper. It's just the sort of thing to pick up in the evening when sitting outside watching the sunset whilst sipping a glass of wine.