U.S.-based Australian eventer Dom Schramm is taking on Badminton Horse Trials CCI5*-L, May 4-8. Schramm, who runs Schramm Equestrian with his wife Jimmie Schramm from Cochranville, Pennsylvania, and Ocala, Florida, is there with Bolytair B (Polytair—Nobelle, Glennridge), a 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Team Bolytair B. While it is the pair’s fifth five-star, it is the first Badminton for both, and Dom is blogging about the experience.
You get to experience the full spectrum of human emotion on a Saturday at a five-star.
It starts with a restless night’s sleep. Then there’s the nervous anticipation. Maybe a sprinkle of excitement during the final, solemn course walk.
Then comes the anxiety, the second-guessing, the double and triple checking of your plan. Your stomach tends to drop out of your body when you see the first rider hit the floor. Things can feel a bit grim after the third or fourth fall early on. But once you climb aboard and get into the warm-up, those start to fade away slowly as your body starts to kick into gear and muscle memory begins to take over, and then once you get out of the start box—bam! It all drops away, and now you are completely thinking about the next fence.
It was quite surreal to finally be out on the Badminton cross-country! Bolytair was very game to the early fences, and I was having a hard time being able to bring him back to the correct balance for the fence without it taking a really long time or without having to really reef on him to get it done.
Because of his massive stride and boldness, it doesn’t take much for us to get in a hairy predicament once I start taking chances on him, probably more so than most horses because it makes it almost impossible for him to be clever in combinations, etc.
I made the conscious decision to slow down after Fence 7 because I felt like if I tried to go as fast as I could, that I would not have what I needed to be able to get to the finish. It’s not really what I wanted because of course it’s much more exciting to try to be competitive, but ultimately my biggest goal for this event is to complete it, so I just made the decision, and I’m glad I did. Sure, you can play woulda, shoulda, coulda after the fact, but I am really glad that we were able to confidently navigate the whole course and make it home safe and with fresh legs. I love this horse, and if I’m honest I hate the thought of something bad happening to him because I don’t quite have the tools I need. These are things we can work on for the next one and it was a hugely educational day for me!
So we jumped clear around an epic Badminton, and he made everything feel like training level! I am very lucky to be sat on such a good horse for my first one, and now I’m just motivated to improve before my next go here.
We will do our best to jump a good show jumping round tomorrow so we can finally get the Badminton plaque I’ve been chasing for all these years!