After several months battling soundness issues stemming from a laminitic episode last August which had threatened to wipe out much of 2015, we arrived at Doncaster at the end of May for a 4 day clinic with Martin Black on 4 good feet albeit with only a few hours preparation in the saddle. Those few hours in the saddle included one which ended in A&E (my first ever trip in an ambulance) having had a freak fall resulting in several minutes out cold (grateful that my hat did a job or it may have been much worse). Doncaster was the perfect way to get us operating again and Patrick stepped up to show fabulous progress from last year and gave me the confidence that at least we had a chance of coping with the forthcoming Aintree experience of sharing and working in an arena with 25 horses. We had little time to worry about it though as the preparations for the event had been on going for several months with a small team helping Tina at Total Horsemanship, the event sponsor, to have everything in place for the arrival of Buck Brannaman and hundreds of spectators. Looking back it is still hard to believe that everything went so smoothly. Working with such a great team, the weekend volunteers, and ably supported by the Aintree staff was a real pleasure and then we got to share the whole thing with a lovely bunch riders and spectators, and to top it all discover that Buck and his wife Mary were actually 2 of the nicest most grounded people you could wish to meet. It was an experience I will be forever grateful for and despite the sleep deprivation (less than two and a quarter hours of sleep was had on the first night) I really hope I get to repeat. We (literally) limped home - well I did, Patrick was fine. I had a trapped nerve in my ankle and then my back decided to join in the fun and ever since we have crawled from one physio session to the next. With the arrival in the UK of Dave Stuart for July and August the intention is to make the most of every opportunity to ride with him and we managed to slot in a clinic here within hours of him landing but sadly I could only spectate though Patrick did get re-aquainted directly with him doing circus pole work during the morning session. We packed the lorry and headed down to Dudgeley Farm a few days later trying desperately to ignore the protestations of my body and with drugs got through the first 2 days albeit I didn't exactly ride just sat on top desperately hoping that moving with the saddle would start to free me up (usually helps) but it was not to be, sitting trot was painful, rising trot was excruciating. On day 3 and 4 the lovely Rosa took over the reins and did a great job giving Patrick just what he needed in the arena and then out for the first ride on the Long Mynd. I am now at home on even stronger drugs and having to face the likelihood of a change from the original plan for the Summer. Ever the optimist I haven't given up on a miracle fix though - if it can happen to horses then why not me!
(lovely photo courtesy of clairespelling.com - official photographer at the Buck UK Aintree Event)