We're two events in, now. Unfortunately, Lincoln was abandoned but Oasby was a great leg stretch for the big man, if a little cold, and Dan celebrated with a thorough roll in the lorry park whilst being walked off after XC. We're not quite sure how he did it but he managed to mash the mud into his white coat underneath his Thermatex. He took more cleaning after the event than he did to get ready to strut his stuff.
Burnham Market was to be the first big deal for this season. CIC***! The journey down was actually quite good given we were driving from Yorkshire to Norfolk. The prep, however, was a trauma - in typical Birley fashion.
The plan was simple, as the big lorry was in the garage preparing for its MOT which runs out on Saturday, I drive on Wednesday in the little lorry, that was already packed with all the needed eventing paraphernalia, to pick Lau and Dan up, bring them home then we drive to Burnham Market on Thursday. It started out well, I got on the road early Wednesday morning, managed to stop for diesel and a Costa and that's where the whole wellness ended. About 5 miles down the road, a red warning light came on (I've seen this one before and know it's one that means no long journeys). As an IT professional, I tried the usual reboot, so I switched the lorry off (having pulled off the motorway, you'll be glad to know) and on again. It worked! Another 3 miles and it was back on.
I called Lau, telling her she needed to get the big lorry out of the garage but it's never that easy in our lives! The big lorry was in bits with no seats in the cab (the kind man at the garage had told us the driver's seat was about to fall through the floor of the cab and needed some serious re-welding), so, they worked quickly to glue/stick/nail/tie it back together so it was drivable. Meanwhile, I drove my little lorry straight to the Iveco garage to get some diagnostics run. Long story short (it's always a long story with us), they fixed it, cleared the problem, got me back on the road for it to happen again 5 minutes later. Quick drive home, empty the entire contents of the little lorry into the shed (everything except the brand new eventing watch I'd bought for Lau to replace the lost one, ending in another extra journey to retrieve it). When Lau and Dan finally arrived, in the big lorry, we had lessons with Tracy Garside, followed by a photo shoot for Lau and Dan with North Yorkshire Police for their Riding Road Safety Campaign. With all the lorry problems, we drew a line under the day and went to bed!
We made it Burnham and Dan did a good test for his first 3* test. His dressage still needs work but that's fine. The best things in this life are the things we need to work for. We arrived the day before dressage - we've found with experience that Lau and Dan do a better test if they're both rested up after a long drive. Whilst the ground was good, it was soft and, as a result, the lorry got stuck. When told it could be 'hours' before the tractor could pull us out, we resorted to proper girl power, dragging broken branches from the base of the nearby hedgerow and using is as a grippy carpet to get the wheels moving. It worked.
It then persisted down with heavy rain overnight so the event was cancelled. Given the lorry had to make its way back to the MOT garage in Warrington, the bonus was an early start for the journey home. That was quickly counteracted by the front nearside blowout about 30 minutes into our long journey. 11 hours later, we rocked up, Dan settled at home in Yorkshire and the lorry delivered back to the garage in Warrington, us settling down to homemade cheeseburgers for supper back at home. Talking of eating, it's been really, really cold at the moment and as Dan's a lean horse, anyway, we're reviewing his feeding regime next week with Sarah from Saracen to ensure we keep him in tip-top condition but without adding unnecessary weight that he's not used to carrying when jumping.
So, our revised plan is now in action: Belton Advanced, Kelsall AI, Chatsworth CIC***.
Let's keep hoping for dryer weather.
Jan, Lau & Dan