Grapevine Stories

The emotions, expectations and butterflies of Badminton 2023

I woke up this morning and had an urge to put down in writing a bit about How all the riders, owners and connections of these Badminton horses will be feeling as the doors open for this iconic 5*

Being a rider myself and knowing only too well that butterfly effect going on in ones tummy before a major three day event like this but his week I'm in the owner role with Blackthorn Cruise doing his first Badminton with NZ rider Dan Jocelyn and I know it will be a real rollercoaster (hopefully not too much of a rollercoaster though!) from beginning to end for all involved.

Badminton Horse Trials: a name that evokes a mix of emotions, anticipation, and nerves for all those involved. It's a place where dreams are put to the ultimate test, where horses and riders face the formidable challenge of overcoming both physical and emotional obstacles of a pretty huge size. 

On this hallowed turf that’s been the host to so much emotion of every kind, over the years, the triumvirate of horse, rider, and support team come together, bound by a shared passion and an unwavering commitment to excellence, love and respect.

For the rider, standing at the precipice of Badminton fills their heart with a kaleidoscope of emotions. There's the thrill of anticipation, the exhilarating rush that comes with knowing they are about to embark on a journey that will push them to their limits. But there's also a decent dose of anxiety, a knot of nerves that tightens in their stomach, reminding them of the magnitude of the task at hand. 

They have spent endless hours in the saddle through rain, snow, wind and mud (particularly this Year!) training diligently, refining their technique, and forging an unbreakable bond with their four legged friend. Now, all of that preparation boils down to this moment, and the weight of expectations bears heavily on their shoulders.

And then there's the owner, the silent guardian of dreams. We’ve invested our trust, time, and resources into our horses who owe us absolutely nothing, watching him or her growing into this powerful athlete. Our hearts swell with pride as we witness the culmination of years of dedication and plenty of ups and downs along the way. Yet, there's a flicker of anxiety that dances in our eyes, knowing that our special  companion is about to embark on a journey fraught with so much to overcome. 

We send silent prayers into the ether, hoping for a safe and successful ride, knowing that their horse's triumph will reflect our own unwavering belief in the power of the partnership.

But amidst the nerves and anticipation, one must not forget the unsung heroes of the equestrian world – the grooms. These silent warriors work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that every need of the horse is met. 

They know the horse better than anyone else, attuned to its moods, quirks, and idiosyncrasies. From grooming and feeding to tacking up and soothing nervous jitters, the grooms are the silent pillars of strength, providing unwavering support to both horse and rider. Their hands may be calloused, and their bodies tired, but their spirits remain unyielding, fuelled by an unspoken love for these horses under their care.

Badminton encapsulate a symphony of emotions – the crescendo of nerves, the cadence of anticipation, and the harmonious blend of dedication and trust. It is a test not only of physical prowess but also of mental fortitude and emotional resilience. It is a tapestry woven with threads of passion, commitment, and the indomitable spirit of these horses and riders.

So, as the sun rises over the Badminton estate, casting a golden glow upon the lush fields and daunting fences, remember the emotions that run deep in the veins of all involved. 

Each heartbeat echoes the fervent desire for success, for a great round and a moment of glory whether it’s clear inside the time or a completion. 

But whatever the outcome may be, the bonds forged in the crucible of Badminton will endure. For the emotions experienced here are not easily forgotten. They become etched in the annals of equestrian history, serving as a constant reminder of the beauty and depth of the human-horse connection.

Good luck Dan, Van and all. Please can every one of you and your horses come home safely and with a big smile on your faces.

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