The trip of a lifetime | An Eventful Life

The trip of a lifetime


Is a 'Trip of a lifetime' still a trip of a lifetime if you fully plan on doing it again?

I feel like I have to shake myself a bit to check that the last three months weren't part dream part nightmare... It could go either way depending on how you look at it, with just about everything possible going wrong but also everything possible going right! Just when I thought I was out and all this effort was for nothing, somehow we pulled it together to achieve the biggest highlight of my career so far. Finishing Adelaide 3DE CCI 2*.

When I got to the Ryan's Newcastle Equestrian Centre, where my last blog finished, we thought Will's abscess was ancient history. Let's move on and go for Goulburn! Well...

We jumped at a local jump club around some 1.10 and 1.20 classes which he felt OK at but two days later he was very lame. Off came the shoe, found the abscess which was actually the same one but re-infected and, with some half hour stints of hot Epsom salt baths, he seemed to come right! Yay!

Thennn we XC schooled. He jumped well (me not so much... "Focus Alice!!!" Is still ringing in my ears!!) and again... lame. I was about ready to throw in the towel... I was a week out from Goulburn 2* and my horse kept trying to be sent home! But Heath's new mantra whenever he spoke to me was "We're not done yet." So for three hours a day I sat on a bucket and soaked Will's foot in a hot Epsom salt bath after I had ridden him!

I cannot thank everyone up there enough for being so tolerant and understanding. It did my head in. But it worked. I had a sound horse after two days, we were back on track and even when we jumped he stayed sound due to the effects of the intensive treatment he was getting. I was stoked with my test at Goulburn, despite the fact it only sat us midfield because we had a few mistakes and I was trying to implement all the new things I had learnt in the short time since I had been in Newcastle.



He showjumped well and we nailed some of the tricky combinations that caused some trouble. The XC was big but I had two great runs at Werribee under my belt so I felt confidant. But once on course Will just didn't feel his usual self. On paper we were clear with just time and I was so proud of him pulling through for me on what was our last qualifier for Adelaide. Will had also pulled a shoe somewhere on course and it was that dreaded foot... So we continued the foot soaking, got his shoe back on and hoped for the best! Alas... Again he was sore. So vets, farriers and google were consulted and we decided that while the abscess was gone, there was now quite a lot of bruising. So then we threw everything we could at him that might help! And a week out from Adelaide... He came right. And stayed that way!

Incredibly, he had held his fitness really well due to going on the walker for 40mins a day and in between problems, we had managed to get a few gallops/XC schoolings in. He looked and felt brilliant, I was shaking my head trying to work out how this had all somehow come together so well! On Monday afternoon in the first week of November, two cars and a float were loaded with what seemed like an obscene amount of gear for just two horses and four people, and we were off chasing a South Australian border.



You can't laugh at me... But I thought it was a big enough drive from Victoria to Sydney... Well! Wasn't I in for a shock! We departed Ryan's at about 1 or 2pm in the afternoon, and got to Hay at 1am. The first leg of our trip went nearly without a hitch... Nearly. At about 12am, when my eyes where getting rather disgruntled at the time of night that they were open, Heath hit a kangaroo. The poor creature was dead instantly having been hit very hard and it wasn't long before the car and float pulled over and we all had a look at the damage. Thankfully it all seemed cosmetic and with a few tugs, the remaining mud guard and bit of bumper that was dragging on the ground was pulled off and discarded. Heath found the nearest truck to sit behind and I did the same behind the float.

Despite a few odd sparky bits of metal coming off the car which made us all quite nervous, we got to Hay safely. The horses were hastily unloaded and given their dinner in the stockyards and we all rolled out our swags and slept for 2 ½ hours. We set off again at 4.30am. Those who know me are well aware I am not much of a morning person... So when I say that 'death on legs' was an appropriate term for me at 7.30am when I woke up after Hazel had driven out of Hay, you had better believe me. But after that the drive was quite easy as the scenery was utterly stunning... the Hay plains were bursting with crops and water! Not something that happens often so I was lucky to see it in all its glory.

We rolled into Adelaide at about 12 or 1 pm and the horses had never been so happy to see green grass. They had both travelled really well and felt great when we rode them lightly that afternoon. Trot up was Wednesday and to say it was a crash course in trotting up a horse, was an understatement. Oops.



Will was the soundest he has been all trip, so I was awfully surprised when I was sent to the hold box. However Heath wasn't surprised and neither were the vets as I had trotted Will up so badly that I would have made any horse look lame! So I was quickly told what to do by the very kind and understanding vets and we went again and passed. Dressage day was Thursday and Will and I did one of the best tests we have done yet! There were some tense moments and definitely some inaccuracies but the overall picture was 10 x better than any other test so I was really happy! Especially considering the huge atmosphere!



Friday was course walking day and I was pleasantly surprised that the course wasn't any worse than I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong... I was still terrified even after waking the course 5 times! But it was do-able. On course, I let nerves get to me on the harder combinations... But all the big tables and oxers we nailed! It was an utterly exhilarating experience riding around a XC course in the middle of a bustling capital city! 

We jumped clear and only had 7.2 time. He cooled down really well and was almost a little too spritely when we poured the iced water on him! We had some concerns for him being a bit sore so we threw everything we could at him and iced until 11pm and started again at 5am. He trotted sound early Sunday morning and then after me running for a solid 15mins trying to work out how to get my horse to trot straight, we passed! First go!



The showjumping went well, he jumped super around the first half of the course but hit a wall after going through the treble so I nursed him home but we collected some penalties in the process. As I crossed the finish line, initially I was really disappointed. But once I thought about it, I really couldn't be prouder. Not only of my horse who has the heart the size of a mountain to keep going when he wasn't 100%, but of myself too as I could have given up and gone home so many times... And I nearly did! But with Heath's determination to get me there I found the courage to keep going.

Will and I are now back at home and he is as sound as a bell, seriously enjoying his well earned break! I am flat out riding horses and I also had a week at Equitana with Southern Stars Saddlery which was great fun!

I also want to say a MASSIVE well done to Hazel and Clifford on your well deserved win! Thank you for letting me be a part of that experience and I hope to see all of you up at Ryan's again soon!

And finally thankyou Heath and Rozzie for having me and putting up with my terrible arena etiquette (actually that goes out to any poor soul that shared the arena with me at Ryan's at some point... Sorry!!)! I had the most incredible time and learnt so much!

I have had a lovely Christmas at home with my family and then jetted of to a certain clinic with a certain person that had me quite terrified! But that is a story for my next blog.


Until next time,

Alice smiley