in horses

Oh, yeah, Badminton !

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First of all, yes, that is Mark Todd. And, yes, I took the picture. I was right there at the corners at Badminton and got to take a picture of Mark Todd (and learn a lot about the difference between the greats and the out-of-this-worlds when it comes to riding). Eep. We were at these fences (two corners on a line, with an alternate set of fences if the corners weren’t going to work out) for about twenty minutes–and during that time most of the riders made it over in various versions of the classic eventing “get it done”–they made it over, but the lines were wobbly, or the jumps a bit awkward. And then came Mark Todd, who, it was obvious, picked a line, stuck to it, and made the fences look so easy (on one of the greener horses at Badminton!). It was absoutely amazing to be close enough to watch–and tons of fun to listen to the commentary swirling around. Most of which was along the lines of “well, of course it was great, he’s “Mark Todd“. Said in exactly that tone of voice.

IMG_1624The rest of the day was equally excellent. It would have been great if only because it started with what must have been the cutest/most hysterical “event” ever: The Shetland Pony Grand National.
I am proud to say that my pick, number 15, excelled! (They may have even won the entire thing, ahem). When asked for my secret later, I had to admit that I picked the pony because she had stomped on her handler and then tried to bite her rider. Definitely a winner. The riders were great as well. There were only two “mishaps” that resulted in a jockey hitting the dirt (one happened before the poor kid even got to start the race!), and everyone had a great time cheering for the ponies as they raced around the track and over the jumps.  The whole weekend was just unbelievable. Even if it was freezing cold, wet, and pouring down rain for bits–which ended up being an excuse to buy a pair of Dubarry boots–my new favourite pair of shoes. We also hit up the rest of the trade fair, and, since we walked the cross-country “backwards”-ish (mostly from last to first…) we didn’t really have to deal with the crowds too much–although the mud that everyone had churned up by the end of the day was fairly incredible.  Next up, Burghley!