The BE80(T) blog: A return to Eventing, babies, and lots of training...
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BE80(T) Championships blogger 27 Sep 13

The BE80(T) blog: A return to Eventing, babies, and lots of training...

As part of the BRC BE80T championships celebrations I’ve been asked by British Eventing to write some blog entries, leading up to and on the day of the competition on Saturday 28th September at Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire.

My name is Nikki Goldup and I live on a farm just outside Cambridge with my partner and 3 sons who are 6, 3 and 3 months old. In addition to raising my children I work for my parents scientific engineering firm which suits my hectic life as it’s just next door to my home.

I’m lucky enough to ride and compete on Wanda an eight year old, 15.2hh, WB x Gypsy cob that I had brought from a local rider Tessa Frost. I’ve owned Wanda for just over a year now.

Previously I had ridden as a teenager and evented up to Intermediate level and did a lot of show jumping. I then had a break of about 18 years and started riding again when my second son was 4 months old. Sometimes I think you don’t find good horses, they find you and Wanda literally came knocking on our door. My trainer Val Gingell, who I’ve worked with since I was about 15 recommended that I went to see Wanda and we immediately clicked. Wanda is the sort of horse that is very confident, worldly wise and always makes you happy when you ride her.

After purchasing her in May I did 3 BE 90 events and one 100 at Little Downham. After competing at Little D my aim was to hit the ground running in spring 2013 and see is we could upgrade to Novice sometime during the season. Little did I know how things would turn out!

Shock, horror, no eventing…

In late October quite unexpectedly I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. Eventing wise it did put a spanner in the works as I have had to miss most of the 2013 season as I was quite heavily pregnant by March. Despite this I carried on riding, competing in British Showjumping until the end of 2012 and BD until I was about 30 weeks pregnant. I also carried on jumping small fences and doing pole work at home and lots of hacking. I was lucky to have help from my friend Amy Benton who was able to take Wanda round Waresley Park gallops for me (my last ride was at 34 weeks pregnant when I walked off Wanda post gallops). Tyler Bobby was born on 26th June. If it wasn’t for my super team and family I would have been totally stuck and I’m so grateful for all their support and kindness.

Dressage Regionals for Diva Wanda

Fortunately the birth went very well and I was lucky enough to feel quite well and strong. As I had BD dressage regionals 4 weeks after the baby was born I was keen to get back on and had my first ride 4 days after I gave birth. I initially just focused on the dressage regionals and did my first BD competition 2 weeks after Bobby was born – winning on 71.25%. Bit of a shocker to say the least. I didn’t fare as well at regionals and came 19th out of 43 horses.

Back to Jumping – another 4 weeks until my first event.

I am a great one for setting myself challenges and so my next focus was to prepare for and enter a BE event. Milton Keynes was 4 weeks away and so this was my aim. I decided to step back a gear and train to do the 80T. I have to say that there was sometimes the odd day where I rode terribly and felt really worried I might never be able to event again but on the whole my riding got better with every session. I don’t know if I should attribute this to the horse (who is a total gem) or maybe because I rode and competed quite extensively as a junior and YR so there is some muscle memory stored somewhere!

I was also lucky enough to come and train with another BE coach Tina Ure at Little Downham and really benefitted with her tuition. She has really helped me with my confidence and understanding and I feel that I thrive on her approach to XC training.

We had a good run at MK (31 dressage and double clear but with time faults as I was very slow cross country) and came 9th. A great start to our season… In August! My next plan was to compete at Keysoe, again in the 80 so I could nail the XC speed and also work on a more forward rhythm in the SJ.

At Keysoe my dressage was not up to its usual standards and I scored 35. Still 5th in my section and a fair mark for the test I rode but disappointing. I have to say that I really benefitted in the show jumping warm up by the help of Tiny Clapham. She was the 80T coach for the day and I had met her before on a BE XC schooling day. She really helped me to get over my emotions and focus on the job in hand and the enjoyment of what I was there to do. The SJ went very well and I went clear. I was under strict instructions not to hang about XC and was really thrilled with Wandas performance. To my amazement we actually ended up winning our section and qualified for the BE80T Championships.

So here we are…

This week has been manic. I’ve returned to work and found it so hard to juggle this, school runs, looking after my kids, training and day to day life. My eldest son is also 6 on Friday and has 26 friends over for a party on Sunday (I must be mad…). I’m sure there must be easier hobbies to have but I wouldn’t change things for the world. We have had two good training sessions. The first to run through the dressage test as I know the competition will be tough at Brooksby. The second on Thursday was a jumping tune up on grass with Val. As usual Wanda was superb and coped with all the questions we asked of her.

Friday she will have a quick session of flatwork then a hack to chill out. I’m going to have to wash and plait the night before as we have to leave home at 6am. I’m just praying the baby doesn’t have a bad night and that Wanda doesn’t do her usual filthy beast act.

Wanda and I have had a great 3 months building up to this moment. Always more highs than lows (actually no lows) and I feel well prepped. The proof of the pudding will be if I can get all three phases spot on… but I guess that’s eventing for you, if you’re running at a 4* or an 80 track. Can’t wait to get out there and try our best.

On the day I will be tweeting @bandw_eventing and will be gathering lots of hat cam and video footage so you can see how we got on.

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