Saturday, September 12, was cross country day at the Blair Horse Trials. I think many would consider this the highlight of the competition. The basic outline of eventing is a three day competition where horse and rider perform in three different disciplines: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. It's a rigorous test of both horse and rider, and the best horses and riders in Europe were at this championship. The cross country course at Blair was 3.64 miles long and included 40 jumps. A clear score in cross country is won by staying on your horse, having no refusals (your horse takes more than one try at a jump) and by coming in under a set time, in this case 10 minutes and 16 seconds. Basically, the horses have to gallop for miles and jump a bunch of things designed to trick them. In a major event like this, there were some pretty spectacular jumps (which you can see in the virtual course walk).
The day started with a lovely Scottish summer drizzle, not too cold, and certainly manageable. We were going to walk along the course, see different horses run through, and see the different jumps. I had no idea how long the girls would last, but everyone else planned the walk the whole course.
To say that Louise was whiny about this prospect would be an understatement... but off we went, me dragging her along most of the time. We saw some great jumps, but decided to separate from the group after this huge water jump.
We went down to another water jump, and there the weather turned from "charming Scottish drizzle" to "driving buckets of water launched from the sky." I was able to shelter the girls a bit while we stood at the jump, but when it was time to leave, we had to turn right into the driving rain. Our car might as well have been 50 miles away... there was nothing to do but slog through the rain and mud. We were only 50% miserable when we passed the prosecco tent (yes, it was very lovely) and saw Renata, Brian, and Mommy there. We dropped in for a drink and a slightly drier rest. The Moffats soon joined us, and we hunkered down with the crowds of other people seeking shelter while the weather went from unpleasant to down right nasty.
Finally, we ventured out to head toward the car...
In my years of parenting, there are few periods that could compare to the utter misery of the next 25 minutes. We were walking straight into driving rain, I was soaked from head to ankle (feet were thankfully dry), the girls were (very understandably) miserable, and the temperature seemed to be dropping by the minute. We were completely drookit.
When we made it to the car, I cranked up the heat and had the girls take off everything that was wet. They sat in the back in only their shirts, and I shivered as I drove us home.