Great to catch up with our WOW Saddles blogger, Oli Lawrence. Read more to find out what adventures he has been embarking on this month…
“So. We’re nearly one month into the season and I’m still alive plus I haven’t fallen too behind with work which, in short, is a minor miracle. Since we last spoke/I wrote/you read Sox has been to Oasby, Lincoln and Great Witchingham. Oasby was his first event which normally leads to entertaining stories of general start of season problems but I’m surprised, even suspicious, to report that we had non except 2 poles down but we’ll let that go… Oasby did highlight though that a change of bit was in order for the cross country as it felt a little bit like being on a freight train with minimal breaks. Sox now has an American gag which does everything a bit is supposed to, well actually, it means I can stop which is kinda good really!
With new bit in tow Sox jumped a decent double clear at Lincoln and just had the one down show jumping but was clear cross country at Great Witchingham Intermediate. Coincidentally I discovered after Great Witchingham that if you finish your cross country round, pack up, go home and go straight to the library within four hours you’ll be one of the least productive students alive. Suffice to say I lasted about 5 minutes of sitting down before beginning to climb the walls and abandoned any attempt at work. I keep being told I need to compartmentalise things and focus on work in Cambridge then forget about work whilst I’m eventing. However, when you’re sitting at a desk convinced the table in front is fence 7 and beyond that there is a water jump and you click at your computer like a horse when it won’t start I think it’s safe to say you’ve failed to focus…
I also had the once in a life time experience, if I ever repeat it again someone will kill me, of doing a bad dressage test at Great Witchingham. Normally Sox’s dressage is pretty damn good but as soon as I went down the centre line I knew this was just one of those days – the arena had been moved slightly and there was the trace of a second centre line next to the actual one where horses had trotted before me. For the life of me every time I turned up the centre line I was off, which landed me in a lot of trouble with just about everyone, not least the judge who didn’t empathise with my predicament. I was once told by an old, dubiously wise and slighted bearded old lady at a pony club rally when I was still small enough to actually ride ponies, that some mistakes, like putting pans in a microwave and not tightening your girth enough, you will only ever make once. I hope she was right.
I suppose I should say something about polo too seeing as I missed it off last time. Cambridge uni is lucky enough to own its own ponies which makes playing polo here relatively cheap. As well as the actual polo the ponies have been subject to several experiments for WOW and other companies whilst I’ve been here. We tried cross country boots instead of bandages and WOW’s air adjuster pad under poorly fitting saddles to brilliant effect. What I’m trying to say is that from all of this I’ve learnt one thing – if you can give a product to a group of disorganised students who are either hungover or half asleep still and it works then you’re on to a winner. WOW might produce some wacky designs compared to your standard jumping saddle but their stuff is relatively idiot proof and simple to use – in a world where everything seems immensely complicated that must be the biggest compliment I can give something!
Sox heads to Belton Young Rider’s trial for his next event so watch this space. Actually , even better, come and watch! – its one of the best events in the country for spectators and a great family day out. Blimey, I sound like I’m selling ice to polar bears, but I do genuinely mean it!
On a final note, I have a classic Oli mess up to share. I’d offered to help out with a total beginners polo lesson and was really keen for it to go well seeing as I’d been for a drink previously with one of the girls involved. So she trots along trying to canter and I thought if I just give the pony a tiny tap on the bum as I go past it’ll be enough to nudge it into a nice slow canter for her. Predictably, as soon as I touched him he spun round and glared at me and in the process deposited said girl on the deck. Fantastic. Nice work Oli. Thankfully she got straight back on and seems to still be talking to me… When I got back I found I had an email asking how I’d managed to combine horses, uni and life in general as I seemed to have done a really good job of it and asking for advice… The temptation to reply that in all seriousness I was definitely the wrong person to ask was pretty high. That said, I do turn 21 tomorrow so I’m hoping for some beam of inspiration from on high that might eventually stop me having such ludicrously bad ideas!”