I think even Noah would be slightly worried about his Ark at this stage in March as the rain continues, the sun stays away and the dreary grey days run into one another. Lincoln was always going to be a logistical challenge with some 12 horses travelling up to Lincoln on Saturday afternoon (leaving in the rain of course) and Tim due to depart for Kronenberg on Monday after competing on Sunday.

Jonelle masterminded an elaborate plan which involved professional horse transport, a helpful team at Lincoln with regard to the onsite stabling, their own horsebox, a large car and allot of paperwork with Pedens. Key to this plan was Lincoln running on Sunday and a route to Kronenberg in Holland from Hull on the NE coast to Hook in Holland instead of the usual Dover Calais route.

You know that it’s not a ‘normal’ OI weekend when Tim and Jonelle have 10 horses running and they all finish in the top 12 across three sections! To say that Lincoln was soggy and muddy is possibly the understatement of the year but fair play to the organising team who allowed the event to continue.

Jonelle said she had to give herself a ‘good talking to’ in the middle of her dressage rides. Anyone who knows Jonelle is aware that cold, rain and mud are three of her least favourite things and she said she was ‘losing the will to live’ but squared up and got through the morning! Tim said his were all coping surprisingly well and doing good tests but it wasn’t much fun!

If they thought the dressage was bad they were to discover that the show jumping arena was worse as described by both variously as “horrific” and “disgusting”. The Lincoln team had tried their best and had built what Jonelle said was a “tiny little track” about 1m 05 to compensate for the fact that the horses were ”jumping out of about a foot of mud!”. Fernhill Kankan impressed Jonelle no end with the way that she coped in the arena as her first in and she managed a clear despite it being so tough. Jonelle described the feeling that as the horses went to leave the ground they simply didn’t get any height which was a “horrible feeling” and it was a proper test of a partnership for sure. Grappa Nera (Grape) had improved massively on her Tweseldown dressage score with a nearly respectable 36.8 but she added 8 in the jumping and that was probably due to the fact that she really did get the very worst of conditions. After her round the course was held whilst they rolled the track and Jonelle said that did make a difference so McClaren (Mac), L E B Lias Jewel and Senor Crocodillo (Diego) all benefitted slightly and all jumped clear rounds.

Tim found that Coup de Coeur Dudevin (Joker), Vitali and Falco all dug deep for him and jumped clear. Happy Boy is pretty careful but he ploughed through similar conditions to win Le Lion d’Angers 7 year old World Champs for young horses and he pulled out the stops again for a clear. Jarillo (Milo) is super careful and Tim said he wasn’t at all sure about jumping in these conditions and had a look on his face not unlike a peacock finding himself in a bunch of Emus. He was good and brave to just pick up 4 faults though and hacked back to the truck looking mightily proud of himself.

Allot of withdrawals before dressage, allot of no shows to the show jumping and a decimated cross country start area. Much discussion about the need to go cross country and both Tim and Jonelle set out with the feeling that the ground should ride better out on the track. Kankan was Jonelle’s trailblazer and gave her a good ride apart from finding out that the route that they had planned walking between 13 and 14 didn’t quite work but that the ground definitely felt safe for the horses.

Grape bounded around, Jewel put her Irish roots to good use and wound up in runner up slot, Diego is turning into the ultimate pro with another second place and Jonelle’s “star of the day” went to little Mac who isn’t a fan of mud in any shape or form and who had as good a proper coffin on course to contend with as you would ever see at an intermediate one day and he absolutely nailed it! That really impressed Jonelle and she said at the end of the day it was a good track with some decent lines, a strong water and she was glad and relieved that she had run!

Joker and Falco head out to Kronenberg on Monday so they both hacked around for 30 plus time faults and a great prep for next week. Vitali was as good as ever cross county and Milo really earnt his big boy award with another clear. Happy popped sweetly through the coffin that was the issue at Tweseldown last week and then surprised Tim with a cheeky 20 at the water! Tim was quick to put it down to Happy’s quirky sense of humour and said it was an indication of how well he is feeling. Happy tends to pull it out of the bag at the big ones (Le Lion, Le Pin au Haras, Boekelo) but is smart enough to have worked out that with a peppering of 20’s at the one days means he has a home for life!

Jonelle called from somewhere around Birmingham around 7.30 last night on her way home in the car with Cosby and three staff, Jess was on the Parker transporter with 10 horses and Tim called around 6 from his position “sitting on a bucket with Rosie having a beer” in the stables at Lincoln with just Falco and Joker. He said that the truck was full of mud, the gear was covered in it and he and Rosie planned to spend much of Monday in cleaning mode! They travel overnight to Holland and it’s under 3 hours to Kronenberg when they dock.

It has been a challenging weekend on many fronts but with Jonelle’s organising, a great team at the event and at home and supportive owners it seems to have somehow all come together. Many thanks to Lincoln for keeping going, it was much appreciated!