My plan for last week was straightforward.
Sunday : sell stuff at a "bar boot" sale - tick.
Monday (a public holiday) : attend car boot sale and sell off more of our "stuff" - tick. We made €170 selling old clothes, cds and bric-a-brac which would otherwise have been thrown into the skip which is currently sitting beside the house.
Tuesday : Watch as much of the Olympic Dressage Grand Prix Special as possible while at the same time continue going through household "stuff," packing boxes and preparing for Silver Spurs. I'll give Tuesday half a tick. The entire Grand Prix Special got watched. Boxes remained unpacked. Some of the old Silver Spurs rosettes (which we are recycling this year) got ironed, just because that was a job I could do while watching dressage.
Wednesday : this was the day I was going to catch up on everything I should have done on Tuesday, so that I would be able to watch the Kur on Thursday, PLUS I had to collect the Silver Spurs rosettes from the manufacturer in West Cork, an hours drive away. No tick. I got absolutely nothing done.
I had just finished poulticing and hot-tubbing Aero's foot (yes, that was being fitted in twice daily as well) when the ED came out of the office clutching her side. "Mum, I think I need to go to hospital." Man, she was pale. She's had a cough going on for just about as long as Aero has had his hoof abscess going on, has been back and forth to her doctor and spent a day in the Emergency Room while we were on holiday in July, but the cough has refused to clear up and the pain in her chest has been explained as "you probably pulled something coughing." She went and lay down for a while, hoping it would ease the pain, while I finished the rest of the horsey jobs. An hour later, she was still in pain, so off we went to the hospital, and that's where I spent the rest of the day. The LSH relieved me at about 6.30pm and I went home to treat Aero and look after the rest of the animals, but about an hour later he called to say they were going to keep the ED in overnight so she could have a CT scan the next day.
The YD had a gig at 10pm which I really wanted to go to, so when the LSH got home, we had a late dinner and spent the rest of the night in a bar listening to her performing with her new band. They were excellent, especially considering that they'd only practiced together for a couple of hours!
Thursday : was originally going to be a nice relaxed day. I would have prepared everything for Silver Spurs on Wednesday, so all I would have to do was the usual household and animal care stuff, pick up the Silver Spurs trophies, watch the Kur, head off to meet my Silver Spurs co-organiser Naomi at about 5.30pm and carry on to Wicklow, about four hours away.
It was manic. Phone the ED. Treat Aero's foot. Feed cats, dogs and chickens. Turn horses out. Skip out stables. Whizz off to West Cork to collect rosettes, it's just after 10am as I leave and I'm doing ok. Continue to Ballincollig to collect trophies, stopping to buy shavings on the way. It's already 1pm by the time I get there, where did those three hours go? Carry on home. All I have to do now is eat, print off everything we need for Silver Spurs, finish ironing the rosettes, pack my bag and go. I arrived home just in time to see Fuego and Juan Manuel Munoz start their Freestyle, and I sat and watched dressage for about twenty minutes while I ate.
The TV stayed on for the afternoon while I got through my jobs. Scoresheets, judges sheets and start lists were printed and collated. Prize-winners' letters and claim forms were printed, envelopes were stuffed. Recycled rosettes were ironed. My overnight bag was packed. Dressage was watched. Tears were shed, not quite as many as Charlotte Dujardin, perhaps, but a significant amount nonetheless. I was ready to leave at 5pm, and made the final decision as to whether I would go with Naomi or stay with the ED, who was being kept in hospital until they had some sort of diagnosis. The decision was "Go" - I couldn't let Naomi down, and if the ED got a nasty diagnosis I could be home in a couple of hours. I paid a flying visit to the hospital en route, the ED was in less pain and a couple of her friends were visiting, so I felt a little happier leaving her.
Friday : Silver Spurs day at Marlton Stud. Tick!
Later in the day, the LSH sent me a photo of a pus covered poultice. That was the icing on the cake - Aero's abscess had finally burst.
Saturday : Silver Spurs Ride Off day. Another Tick!
This is the most exciting part of the competition, and is fitted into the middle of a busy show day at Marlton Stud. The top three riders from both our Pony and Junior sections have a World Championship style Ride Off. They each perform a test on their own mount - ponies do a Preliminary level test and Juniors do a Novice level test. Then they swap onto the other riders' ponies/horses and do the test again, doing the test three times in total. They have approximately seven minutes (the length of a dressage test) to get to know each strange horse before they have to ride the test on it, and the most adaptable rider will invariably come out on top.
It's always exciting, and this year was no different - there was just 1% between 1st and 2nd in the Pony section. The Junior section had a clear winner, but there was less than .01% between 2nd and 3rd - it can't get closer than that!
The top three riders in each section get the same prize, a €500 bursary, thereby reducing pressure and negative competitiveness (we hope). Our sponsor is the governing body of equestrian sports in Ireland, Horse Sport Ireland, who have been very generous to continue sponsoring Silver Spurs, considering all the cutbacks which state run bodies are enduring at the moment.
Naomi and I have been running Silver Spurs for four years now. Unless things go very pear-shaped in France, this was the last time I'll be so closely involved. It's a lot of work, but it has been a huge privilege to be involved with these youngsters. Many of the riders come back year after year and it's been a pleasure to watch them develop as riders and as adults. Some of our riders have gone on to represent Ireland internationally, but we're proud of them all!
I got a couple of hugs from some of our regulars. I didn't cry, but there was a strange prickling sensation behind my eyes as I said goodbye. I can't imagine what that was!
Best of luck to Liz, who is stepping in to fill my shoes!