Julia Norman’s Burghley first-timer blog: Bobby has the biggest heart and I cannot thank him enough

Julia Norman Burghley

Wow what a horse, and what a Burghley!

The night and morning before cross-country is one of the worst feelings. It’s mixture of dread, excitement, nerves, worry, determination, fear, anxiety — it’s hard to describe how much you do AND don’t want to get out there on the course.

I went for one last cycle round the course in the morning with my husband, Tristan, on our Meriba e-bikes from Mitchell Cycles. This was a perfect way to nip round the track so I could familiarise myself with each jump, visualise my plan, and get it all clear in my head.

The last hour before going cross-country all of the mixture of emotions were surging, I was so twitchy and anxious. The waiting game is the worst! Luckily I was able to watch a few, Tim Price was a class act to show us all how it’s done as pathfinder.

As soon as I was on board the chaotic emotions left, and I felt weirdly calm and focused. Before I knew it we were walking into the start box and hearing starter count us down.

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Bobby was simply amazing round the biggest, boldest track I’ve ever seen, he dug deep for me and gave me such an amazing ride cross country. It was a relentless track (as it should be – it is Burghley) with question after question, and huge jump after huge jump. I never stopped riding and making it happen from the moment we left the start box to the moment we crossed the finish line.

Bobby is the bravest, kindest, most genuine horse I’ve ever had the privilege to ride. He truly has the biggest heart and we trust each other implicitly. All he wants to do is jump between the flags (and eat!), I cannot thank this horse enough for everything he’s done for me.

Showjumping day arrived, and Bobby was amazing, we both shrunk a little in the atmosphere to start but he got better and better throughout the round, and jumped his socks off. I couldn’t be prouder of this amazing boy, to come out and jump a track like that after the cross-country the day before, he is such a trier.

I’m absolutely thrilled to have now completed both Badminton and Burghley this year, with horse of a lifetime Bobby, owned by Diana Wethered.

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A HUGE thank you to my incredible team Cara Bexton and Hannah Quick who worked tirelessly all week at Burghley, Alice Maundrell who has been riding and looking after our horses at home, including the two Blenheim boys, prepping them for the next big event round the corner. Thank you also to vets Spike, Chris and Hannah, chiropractor Winston Williams and physio Hannah Complin, Bobby’s owner Diana, and my amazing support team of friends and family who are all so much fun to be around. It meant such a lot to compete at Burghley, my father-in-law Keith Norman’s local event, as he lives in Stamford and has been routing for us to compete here.

Thank you everyone for all your input, I’m just the pilot, and it takes an army of amazing, talented and hardworking, dedicated people behind the scenes to be here.


Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound — on sale Thursday, 12 September — for the full report from Burghley, plus all the usual news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more