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Charlotte's Blog

Charlotte Cundall
The Nations Cup Team

“A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant”

I feel like this blog is long overdue so apologies for that, but it just seems to have been crazily busy! Since the turn of the New Year it seems to have been absolutely non-stop, how lucky I am to be able to say that Life is not boring!

It is the week before the NAF Winter Dressage National Championships (able-bodied) and I can hardly believe I am heading down there on Wednesday with an incredible four classes to look forward to with my two boys. It is what we all work towards, getting to the nationals, especially a para in an able bodied world, so to have four classes is a wonderful position to be in. I will try and keep everyone up to date with how we are getting on!

About ten days ago I returned home from the most fantastic trip to Denmark where both boys and I competed in a CPEDI 3* Para International competition. Although I have competed abroad before a couple of years ago with the legendary KBIS Starchaser this was the first time I had a real opportunity to see where I am on the world stage as some of the best riders on the circuit were entered. The boys made the long three day trip to Denmark, with a nights rest in Germany on the way, in the extremely capable hands of the GBR team driver Mark, with super grooms Liz and Lewis and team vet and chiropractor Rod and Karen. Knowing they had such brilliant care made not being with them much easier, although it was very weird dropping them off on Saturday knowing I wouldn’t actually see them again until Wednesday. I really missed them!!!

Blue Horse Stud, where the competition took place, was out of this world, automatic doors to every stable barn (and there were lots), individual wash off bays as far as the eyes could see, heated stables and indoor arenas, their own care and grooming range, all-weather individual turnout pens….the list goes on! In terms of competition, I finished fifth on the first day with Red and then joint fifth with myself on Red and Bam (what are the chances of that?!). ‘Fifth’, doesn’t sound like an amazing result when you first look at it, but when I looked more closely into who I finished behind I was absolutely delighted! Ahead of me were the Gold and Bronze medallists from the World Equestrian Games last year along with two other very established international horse and rider combinations….when you look at it like that, it’s not too shabby and I was one very happy girl. To top off two fabulous days of competition, Team GBR were the Nations Cup winners - to be part of the winning team and look at the Union Jack while the national anthem played was a serious ‘pinch yourself moment’.  Thank you Sophie, Erin and Suz for being THE BEST teammates.

The final day was freestyle day...you are only able to ride one on the final day so having finished fifth on both days Red was the lucky boy who got to dance.

So…after the elation of the previous two days, the emotion quickly changed. Red went SO well, I came out of the arena knowing I’d had to tweak my floor plan slightly in there as I’d taken a bit of a detour so I was determined to make sure I’d got my compulsory simple changes in both ways a couple of times to be safe. As I walked out of the arena I looked at the provisional scoring on the screen and to my delight it was a secure 70%+ score – WOW!!! But then…the score started to drop, and drop, and drop….the realisation soon hit me…I had done two canter half passes, the same way so I’d actually missed a compulsory movement out completely. All I can describe then was a complete rollercoaster of emotions, anger with myself, frustration, embarrassment, sadness…..but after a little time, the strongest emotion of all was pride. I was SO proud of Red. He had no idea that his mum had a sat nav issue, he went so well and initially had come out with a stunning score for where we are at this stage. How could I not have been proud of him? It turns out we would have probably finished 3rd which would have been beyond my wildest dreams, but that day wasn’t our day…but at least I know it is in there for another day.  I have to thank the brilliant team of support staff and riders who made the pretty awful moment bearable - it really does highlight the importance of the team around you. It is easy to be a ‘good team’ when things go well, what separates a good team from a bad team is dealing with things when they go not so well.

What a week we had, I wish I could do it all over again, (mainly so I can go the right way in my freestyle!!). Seriously though, I didn’t really know how to write about my ‘mess up’ as I was embarrassed about it but I wanted people to know what really happens in competitions, it doesn’t always go perfectly, we mess up, we go wrong, we are all human…we all make mistakes. It’s what you do on the back of making mistakes that is important. You must learn from them, we are all on a massive learning journey and you have to make mistakes to learn from them.

“A mistake that makes you humble is better than an achievement that makes you arrogant”

So good luck to everyone out there competing, enjoy riding your horses and be proud.

I hope to fill you in after the Nationals.

Charlotte, Red and Bam xxx

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