21 June 2016

Hickstead The All England Show Jumping Course...

... Or A Mum Worrying....
(scroll down for am & pm twice daily updates)

[UPDATE: videos of Lexie jumping can be found on my Devon Diary Blog - click here

At about 7.45 a.m, my daughter Kathy, husband Adam and two horses, Lexie and Saffie set off for Hickstead, near Brighton in Sussex. It'll be a drive of about four-and-a-half to five hours.  Following behind, loaded with equipment (including horse feed and bedding, camping stuff, and three saddles - one a side saddle) Ashley, family friend and groom for the week.
The main, International, Arena
(Kathy will be jumping in smaller arenas - not this one!) (thank goodness!)
The All England Jumping Course - Hickstead, - was the dream and brain child of one man, Douglas Bunn. Now run by his family, the showground remains one of the premier equestrian venues in the world. Almost every great show jumper, horse and rider, has competed at Hickstead since they first opened the gates in 1960.
Kathy with top show jumper Geoff Billington
 in our kitchen January 2016
The travellers will be gone until Sunday evening, but as I will be off to Nottingham on Sunday  for a conference at the University of Nottingham, I will not see them until I return on Tuesday.
On The Road - the horses in the horsebox
I'm anxious. As mothers always are.
I'm worrying about them getting there safe. Travelling with horses is a hard drive and there are so many idiots on the road.

I'm worrying about the weather. Camping in a field and competing in atrocious downpours is not exactly pleasant. Or safe.
I'm worrying about Kathy competing. Those fences at Hickstead are enormous, and she will be taking part in two classes per day.

Saffie Hickstead 2015
Saffie can get over-excited and is not an easy ride.

For Lexie this will be her first time at Hickstead. Will she cope?

Lexie - Area 16 Sidesaddle champion 2015
I'm worrying about Kathy hurting herself.
I'm worrying about the horses hurting themselves.
I'm worrying about Adam's troublesome back
I'm worrying about Ashley (actually, no idea why, he's not a son or son-in-law! )

Amateur Derby 2001 (Kathy riding El Gaupo)
I've had years of worry because of Hickstead. Kathy started jumping there when she was fifteen (over eighteen years ago!) Hickstead, the Royal International and the Derby Meet would be our annual summer holiday. Camping in the top field above the stable field was usually fairly pleasant. But the walk from the fields down to the showground is not far short of a mile. OK going downhill, torture coming back up, tired - ney, (should that be neigh? Pun) exhausted.

So I am relieved, now that its Adam's turn to be Head Groom for his wife, not me for my daughter as I don't think I could manage that hill, or the camping out, now. All the same. I wish I was going with them. I'm ewxtremely proud of Kathy. We've never been able to afford quality horses, or to compete at the sort of level that would take her to the top - showjumping is a very expensive sport. She's had knocks and disappointments, We've had horses we had high hopes for, but they didn't turn out to be as good as we thought. But like a true trooper Kathy has kept going because she loves the sport, loves her horses and - yes I know she's my daughter, but she's good at it. Which is important as, being severely dyslexic she was regarded (by the education system) as a failure. I pulled her out of school when she was fifteen so she could follow her heart and her horses. She was good with horses. Good at jumping. Costs us a fortune to keep her goingb though. (Thank goodness for my books - buy a book or two and support Kathy's showjumping and the ambition of fulfilling her dreams!)

Keep in mind that those wings are bigger than me - I'm 5ft 3!
Kathy's got hopes for doing well this year - I'll be pleased if she just gets round each cl;ass in one piece. If she knocks every single fence down and comes out with a cricket score, I don't mind. Although a clear round and a place in the line-up would be nice. She came 26th out of about 150 last year. Proud moment! (Believe me, at Hickstead that is a huge achievement!)

Riding Lexie side saddle
On the Sunday she is riding Lexie in a sidesaddle class. Lexie can be an absolute angel and go like a dream - every chance of getting placed in the winner's line-up. Or she can be in a mood and go awful. Which will mean last place. Oh well, that's horses.

I don't care about rosettes and winning, or staying dry, nor getting tired and having sore feet.
Just stay safe all of you. (And have a nice time.)

Information about Hickstead

Call back at the end of each day for any updates and results ......

'Are we there yet?'
The girls waiting to come off the horsebox
Settled into their holiday accommodation
(Lexie just about fits through the door)
The course for Lexie Wedn esday
Class 107 The Hickstead 1m Open
Don't like the look of that blue water tray...
Question is - will Lexie notice it?
Update: 1pm  one worry ticked off: they're all there safe & sound. Course walked for Wednesday a.m.

10 a.m.  Lexie, just 4 faults (one pole down) in her first ever class at Hickstead (1 m. Open)

Lexie (Shinglehall Casino)

4pm: Saffie a prize pudding. Got way over-excited, ended up with 12 faults (three fences down). It would help to jump OVER the jumps not THROUGH them.... Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

A relaxing Pimms
Jumped both horses early. Saffie again over excited (very frustrating) 12 faults plus 2 time faults (no ideas how she got those!)

Saffie's Class
Lexie just 4 faults at a wide oxer going into a combination (i.e two fences close together - they require precision) These are big fences and this is Lexie's first ever big jumping show - so far she's been going superb, not even minding the puddles - usually she will NOT get her feet wet! Mind you given the torrential downpour in the South East last night and the fact that Lexie's mstable was more water than bedding maybe spending the night with wet feet has cured her puddle silliness!  Kathy said Lexie had been digging (the stable floors are earth - temporary wooden stabling in a field) so it looked like Lexie had dug a moat. Adam went to check them at 3am because of the storm Gave them an apple & a hug. All OK. Not sure about Assistant Groom Ashley in his tent - maybe get him a boat?
So, now we wait to see how they do tomorrow. Wish we knew how to solve the Saffie problem :-(

Saffie much calmer, just 4 faults (one down) but dreadfully muddy conditions!
Lexie got clear and through to jump off - just four faults at the very last - but YAY we got through to jump off!!!

and its not ALL jumping (or getting wet in a thunderstorm)

Amateur Derby - all the same fences as THE Derby, but at a lower height (1.15)
Kathy had 24 faults (6 poles down) but there's 15 jumps - a long course - and Saffie is not the easiest horse to ride. Point is Kathy finished the round (in one piece) so who cares about a few poles down?


  1. I think us mum's worry about the Children regardless of how old they are 4 or 40 .... its a mother's lot cos we love them xx

    1. I so agree! How on earth did we manage before we had mobile phones?

  2. Kathy looks so beautiful and confident in that side saddle. Best wishes for rider, horses, and worrying mum, to come through the event with flying colors (and lots of ribbons).

  3. Lots of displacement activities required, Helen! Lovely photos. Best wishes for everything.

  4. Those girls look so beautiful, such intelligent faces!

    1. They are beautiful! Not sure about the intelligence though LOL

  5. All the girls look great, and I wish them lots of luck. I have many great memories of Hickstead, from working with the course designers in the main arena - first Pam Carruthers then Jon Doney - and more recently as an equestrian journalist & photographer, before I retired. Even qualifying for Hickstead is a result in itself. Just relax mum.

    1. Thanks Roland - I don't think mums would be mums if we didn't worry! :-) Lexie got wet feet last night in the storm - she hates puddles, so probably did her good! She's jumping well, we're a bit concerned as to why Saffie is so anxious though. She's fine in warm-up, being exercised etc, but as soon as the bell goes.... we think that she's had a nasty experience somewhere in her past (Kathy can't raise her arm or even get her phone out her pocket while mounted as it scares Saffie - she won't have anyone raising a hand to her head either.) Kathy is very patient though, rides her in just a snaffle with very light hands. (Running martingale is to stop Kathy being whacked in the face by a tossing head). Such a pity, a talented almost grade B horse has been spoilt by someone somewhere down the line dishing out rough handling. Grr.

  6. I think is just great, especially for Kathy. I'm so sorry that I found this so late. I hope everything went well for them!

    1. Thanks - there is another post showing video clips: the link has been added above (at the top)


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