Yesterday morning saw me back up to Trent Park with my wife Liz for what I’d been telling myself all week-end would just be a gentle spot of dressage. An illusion that was quickly shattered by the ever cheerful Adam telling me to ‘get your body armour on – today you’re going to jump’.
Adam got us warmed up with plenty of trotting and a somewhat out of control (my fault) canter. He then took us through a dressage routine – much trickier than you might imagine – and showed us how dressage riders get their horses to move diagonally and explained the scoring system.
Finally it was time for the event I’d been dreading for weeks – my first jump. Astonishingly, instead of simply laying a pole on the ground, Adam actually built a ‘proper’ jump which must have been over a foot high. Liz went over first and I followed reminding myself over and over again to get out of the saddle for the jump. To my amazement, it was completely exhilarating. We even went back for a higher jump which might generously be said to have been a two footer.
Truthfully, it was all down to my fantastic horse – Vinny – but I still spent the rest of the day in a state of combined euphoria and relief at having done it.
I’ve now completed my Gold Challenger riding and, having been scared of horses all my life, it was a huge metal challenge. Despite that, I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s all worth it for those moments when you feel at one with the horse and you’re flying through the air or racing across the countryside.