My mother was firm: ‘I’m not happy about you doing the equestrian events.’
She wasn’t the only one.
When I turned up for the Freyathlon dressage and explained how times I’d sat on a horse – possibly more than once – it was made clear to me I wouldn’t be going over any jumps.
I was relieved.
One thing that’s become clear during Freyathlon is I like to be in near contact with the ground or water – anything that involves being in the air makes me anxious. I refer you to the Freyathlon diving and the Freyathlon trampoline gymnastics. This doesn’t bode well for the high jump and pole vault.
Eventing has been part of the Olympics since 1912. Helena du Pont was the first woman to compete in equestrian eventing – for the USA at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
The sport was developed to test and prepare cavalry horses, and the officers who rode them, and provide a basis to compare training standards between cavalries of different countries. It’s a combination of dressage, jumping and cross-country tests. The aim is to achieve the lowest number of penalties in all three disciplines, which take place over four consecutive days.
British Eventing describes early eventing as:
- Each Cavalry Officer was required to carry 182 pounds and ride with a double bridle except for the steeplechase section. On the first day, each rider had to complete a long distance ride of 33 miles followed by a cross-country test of three miles over natural obstacles with a 15-minute time limit. On the second day, officers rode over a steeplechase course. The third day was devoted to show ring jumping, and the fourth day to dressage. The ten-minute dressage test utilized seven judges. The test included a collected and fast walk, collected and fast trot, rein back, gallop, pirouette and jumping. Reins could be held in either one or both hands.
Which gives you an idea of the challenge I faced.
Luckily, I had a backup plan. Crispin, who’d proved a hit at the Freyathlon modern pentathlon, had continued to stable with us and I knew he’d be a worthy companion for the eventing.
Keen to ensure the audience would be comfortable for the duration of the eventing, I created the inaugural Freyathlon VIP area and upsold the experience with the promise of refreshments. I may have forgotten to explain to the audience they would have to carry the eventing equipment, VIP area, and their own refreshments to the venue.
After a quick assessment of the arena, I set up the jumps and obstacles and readied Crispin for his moment.
In keeping with the multi-location element of Olympic eventing, I chose two locations.
Here’s what happened.
Equestrian eventing. 8 July 2016
Forster Memorial Park
Cost: Free, excluding cost of audience refreshments