Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Happy Times

England hasn’t been having a very good run in the last few days. Kiwis and an Australian won five out of six of the ribbons in the British Open Eventing Championship last weekend, and riots have broken out on London streets. Contrary to popular opinion, these events are not related.

Of course, they can’t be related because the rioters are all wearing tracksuits and no self-respecting horse owner in this country would be seen dead in one of those. When the rioters start looting shops selling tweeds we’ll know that the demographic involved in this trouble has changed. Here in Dorset we feel quite removed from the drama, not least because the multicultural blend of this predominantly farming area is limited to one Chinese restaurant and a microwaveable Tandoori chicken on the supermarket shelves. Besides, most of the youth around here are too busy trimming hedges and mowing lawns to spend much time channeling their inner Ali G. Say ‘innit’ on the streets of Dorset and you’ll be thumped over the head by an old lady wielding a handbag; even think of rioting and you’ll be swiftly dealt with by a farmer, a tractor and a hay spike.

Dinner for one?
With rioting off the cards, we’ve had to find other ways to entertain ourselves this week. Burto started off on Sunday night by trying to eat an entire pig down at the pub, and for a guy who doesn’t consume much more than a bowl of Crunchy Nut in a day he made a pretty courageous effort on a dinner that was actually designed for two. A good porking was just what he needed after a tense weekend where he came second in an advanced class and fifth in the British Open Championship at Gatcombe, and while it initially seemed like a lot of meat I’ve since realized that one pig per day is the standard intake for the average male in England. Take away their bacon and there really would be a riot.

After Sam G won the Express Eventing at Gatcombe – smashing records all over the place in the dressage to music – he’s been working out whether he should cash his £3000 novelty cheque or just send it straight to the pool room. Lucy – who is English by birth and therefore doesn’t understand the reference to The Castle – is pushing hard for the cheque to be cashed. Burto and I – who admittedly don’t pay the bills around here – think the novelty cheque is the beginning of a world class pool room collection. The Mexican stand-off has endured for most of the week.

I had to feel sorry for Lucy and Sam when they loaded up the truck and trundled off to a Pre-Novice event an hour down the road on Tuesday, only two days after finishing up at Gatcombe. People go on about how good eventing is in the UK because you can go eventing mid-week, but I think this is crap. They were definitely searching for positives when they were getting a bunch of youngsters ready to go out on Monday, and as you’ll find if you eat lots of ice-cream , sometimes it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

After the showjumping disaster last weekend, I’ve been busy out practicing in Sam and Lucy’s jump paddock. Unfortunately it lacks the atmosphere that makes Gatcombe as tough as it is, but we thought that with some lads in London seemingly at a loose end we could rent-a-crowd and get a real vibe running through the place. Obviously it would be necessary to lock away anything that’s not actually bolted to the ground but you have to admit it would be a novel and effective training tool. George Morris would be impressed.

Otherwise, with no eventing for Tiger and I this weekend the past few days have been relatively quiet. There’s been time for long solo drives in the country

Time to commune with God

Salisbury Cathedral

Time to snap Lucy riding

And even time to bother Burto while he took his washing off the line.

Fortunately, we’re off to France next week to go eventing so I've got to be honest, we've got nothing to start a riot about.

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