"The more we walked, the more annoyed and unmanageable he became"

Competition days are always a buzz for me – there’s excitement, adrenaline, nerves and always a little bit of stress (usually caused by me being late). However, now I have a whole new emotion to add to my day: fear. 

Perhaps I should explain…

This weekend we trucked off down to Alnwick Ford to their unaffiliated show jumping. However, it wasn’t my usual Chocolate Dun that was standing in the lorry; it was in fact my beloved SuperCob a.k.a. Woody. It has been 16 months since he injured his Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon and it has been a long process bringing him back into work. 

Woody was on complete box rest for about four months, then box rest with five minutes walking out was allowed, gradually building it up by five minutes every week. The more we walked, the more annoyed and unmanageable he became, displaying his dislike for not being allowed to go faster by often cat leaping and bronking along the track, so I was thrilled when the vet eventually gave us the all clear to start building up trot work and then finally canter work. For the last six months I have been building his workload up gradually and FINALLY we were ready to go out and have some fun. 

Over the last few weeks I have been out to a clear round night just to test the waters and done a BD Novice test with him at our local venue. Much to my surprise, he was an angel during both outings – no nonsense whatsoever – which was a pleasant surprise. 

However, this leads me to the aforementioned fear. The fear is not related to the riding or competing. My new-found fear relates to my worry of re-injury; something I’m sure every owner must feel when competing a horse fresh out of rehab. I will refer to it as Tendon Terror going forward (#TendonTerror).

But anyway, #TendonTerror aside we had a wonderful day’s show jumping. The warm up was manic with horses and ponies flying around everywhere; hats off to the British Showjumping lot, who know how to handle this as us eventers are far too polite to push in for the jumps! 

Obviously, the rain started, and boy did it rain! I knew there was a reason I didn’t often go winter show jumping and, as I totted around squelching onto my saddle in almost see-through breeches, I started to remember exactly why that was... 

Never mind. Cold fingers and toes aside, once we got into the warm indoor arena my little cob’s face lit up as he realised what was coming. I had entered him in the 80cm and 90cm classes, which Woods can do with his eyes closed, but I wanted a confident, pressure-free day for his re-introduction to the competitive life. He absolutely bossed around the 80cm clear and then popped back into the 90cm and jumped round like an old pro, only just brushing one pole out of its cups for four faults. 

It’s safe to say that I was ecstatic! There was no nonsense or silly moments and he was incredibly rideable, listening all the way around and truly enjoying his job, which is wonderful to see, especially after all this time. I’m so proud of him and they way he has coped with this whole experience. 

Before I go, I mustn’t forget my other beautiful boy. While Woody takes centre stage, Hugo has been enjoying a peaceful hacking holiday, but will be coming back into full work soon to do some winter training alongside some show jumping and dressage before we hit the cross country schooling hard in the spring. Only one month until it starts getting lighter at nights – the countdown is on…