My friend, Evelyn and myself collected the scores for the cross country event sometimes three or four times a year. Jamie had gradually got used to the idea that we had to stop at the jump-judges to get the sheets, although he didn't altogether approve of this interruption to his rather speedy tour of the course! Very often I had my hands full trying to prevent him from taking a mad gallop back to the rest of the horses.Even after six or seven times round, he was still raring to go. I never made the mistake of relaxing or of thinking Jamie was tiring.
But it was fun and If all went well we were allowed to try a few of the jumps at the end of the day when everyone was packing up to go home.
I only did the easier ones but Jamie and I loved cruising along on the sandy ground.
Evelyn and I started to wonder what it would be like to actually take part and go round the course as a competitor. I started to wonder what the heck I was letting myself in for. Jumping Jamie was a leap of faith, sometimes he jumped and sometimes he didn't. Everything was done at breakneck speed and it was in for a penny in for a pound! Control wasn't much of an option, as for seeing a stride.... WELL..I was lucky if I was quick enough to see the jump! Still, the idea took hold and we began to practice. However jumping at home in your own wee bit with your own wee familiar jumps isn't quite the same thing at all, as I found out.
The day dawned, planned to military precision.
We would be first out on the course, back in time to get on with the real job of score-collecting.
Evelyn was nervous.......and this the person telling me it would be a dawdle! I felt sick. How could I possibly have been so stupid as to think I could do this in front of all these people? Well, we were committed now, so best to get it over with as quickly as possible........wrong choice of words....
Evelyn set off on Tyson,clearing the first two jumps in the main field, the third one made up of rows of tyres was a bit of a shock to Tyson and he stopped dead in his tracks...... Evelyn slid over his head! Then she was up and off again and out of sight into the woods.
Now it was our turn...We were in the start box any way ....Then the whistle blew , the starter graciously wished us GOOD LUCK then we were away towards the first jump, which actually seemed a long way off......safely over though, ..over numbers one and two! Thank God. Number three ...history repeated itself I fell off just like Evelyn , Jamie knew Tyson had got a fright here and wasn't taking any chances . Shaking like a leaf, totally humiliated, I got back up and kept going towards number four...I decided it would be best if I left falling off again until we were well out of the main field.. Groups of people always toured the course taking part in the fun and shouting encouragement to the riders,( very often the riders had some choice words to say to the spectators!!!) a crowd we passed gave Jamie and me a wave and a shout as we flew over the next jump... Jamie was in real fear by now, shouting people all around..terrified owner... something wasn't right. Jamie was as high as a kite, so was I!! He didn't like this one bit and he was terrified, what of, he didn't know, but when Jamie was frightenend and I was also frightened, we were in trouble...Jamie lapsed into one of his little switched off modes and to Jamie that meant RUN RUN RUN!!!
Well we ran and just kept running, the ground swished past so fast I hardly knew where I was. I had lost a stirrup when we landed over the jump but started to pull myself together, and even whilst galloping along, I managed to regain it. I seemed to be going on forever, Jamie by now was way out of my control or even his own.
We were in a flat out bolt and nothing I could say or do was making any difference. The familiar scenes of the course started to look very unfamiliar as we sped along, I had time to rationalise and try to work out what to do. I had options of a sort, I suppose.... Jump off? No way, where would my boy end up then? No, we were in this together. Turn him? Not a lot of room and the steering was very definately fixed forward. Saw on the reins? No effect whatsoever. Wedge the rein on my saddle so that he was pulling on himself? Absolutely no change. We were getting further and further away from the course, miles in fact. I just thanked my lucky stars that there was still a track to be on, but we were heading towards a main road and still no let up. The track was petering out and we were heading towards a lot of trees, this is it, I thought, I'm going to be knocked off for sure, as we weaved in and out. Jamie stumbled in some soft sandy ground and I seized my chance......with all my might I pulled him round to the right and almost completed a half circle. We stopped, Jamie came back to the world of the living and although still pretty upset, he heard me asking him to WALK! WALK! We headed for home.....both of us still a bit on the shaken side, but a team once again. Quite a while later we were back at base camp. Only one person seemed to have missed us....Evelyn! Everyone else had got used to Jamie and me doing daft things and didn't worry too much.
A friend? happenend to comment that 'some people would be better with a calendar than a stop watch!'
Jamie and me would thereafter stick to score-collecting.