And how to avoid making them too! 

1) Failing to inspect a re-flagged fence carefully enough. I was told about a change to a water jump and thought I’d understood perfectly how it was being altered — but actually omitted to jump one element that was still required. I should have walked back to see the fence after it had been reflagged — instead I got eliminated when I had every chance of being placed. And I’m still setting about it 30 years later!


2) Arrive without my stirrups/ girth etc etc. I’m generally always competing on my own, and as a working mother there’s never quite the time to get things organised that I would like. Perhaps unsurprisingly I rarely managed to find the car fully packed as it should be. I’ve borrowed stirrups from Laura Collett, a girth once from Matt Ryan, a stick from the competitor next door, a riding hat once from someone in my row with same sized head the list goes on!… My top tip? Always write to say thank you afterwards (if possinle) or if borrowing from a pro rider, hand back the borrowed kit with a fiver “to put towards coffees for your team on the way home”. I couldn’t find the owner of the riding hat when I returned it to her lorry later — but filled it with packets of polos from the on site coffee van.

3) Thought my horse would be ok in a silver-topped trailer parked for 20 mins on a sunny day. Trailers aren’t like cars, are they? I reasoned. There’s no glass in them (to speak of), there’s that huge airy ‘window’ above the ramp.. But I once found my poor mare lathered in sweat after parking up one sunny day to grab some lunch on the journey home. HUGE LESSON learned.. happily there was a river next door so I poured bucket after bucket over her to cool her down.

4) Assume a horse will travel well with a trailer partition. It may be that MOST horses will travel happily on one side of a trailer partition but it wasn’t the case with mine. While she’s happy to be partitioned in a lorry, the only way she will travel in a trailer is standing diagonally across the whole trailer. This she does in perfect contentment, barely lifting a foot and travelling calmly and happily. Put her in with a partition and she kicks and thrashes so much a vet’s bill is an inevitable outcome

5) Know the rules.. easy to say, harder to do. The BE Rule Book isn’t easy bedtime reading, after all. But when my martingale once broke midway through a show jumping round, I didn’t realise that if I’d indicated to the judge in the commentary box that I was going to stop, she would have stopped the clock while I fixed my kit, and restarted it as I indicated I was going to resume my round. Instead I jumped off to sort it out with the clock still ticking and logged masses of time penalties

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