I’ve spent the day at Bramham horse trials – first day of dressage today, plus the hunter show.

That’s Mary King, a member of the UK Olympic eventing team, ready to go into her dressage test.

There’s Sparky, sprawled out in the grass by the side of the dressage arena wearing her free neckerchief. I couldn’t get any decent pics of dressage tests; my camera is too small.

There were dogs everywhere, all very well behaved and on leads. The only place to let them off was on the cross country course (no horses on it today). These three belonged to a rider who was walking the course, and shortly after this the German Shepherd pup and the Jack Russell waded into the water jump – to test the bottom was nice and firm for the horses on Saturday, obviously. Sparks and I left them to their musings, and walked off to get through the woods and on the parkland loop, but first we came across this rider in the dressage practice arena:

I don’t know what that building is behind her. A summer house? A folly? It’s quite close to the main house, which we have never actually got around to visiting, despite living only 40 minutes away.

On Saturday horses and riders will be galloping around and encountering fences like this:

And this:

Most of them look quite inviting – if, and it’s a big IF, you had a good horse.

There were some lovely horses in the hunter classes. I love show hunters. I’d have a middleweight, or a heavyweight, in a flash, except that practicalities start to creep into my mind like a) if I fell off when I was out riding, how on earth would I get back on again without a mounting block and b) how much do they cost to feed. A darn sight more than a hardy native pony, I’d imagine.

Here’s Imperator, the winner of the middleweight class:

And here are the judges discussing final placings in the heavyweight class:

It was a very pleasant day, and a welcome distraction from my academic woes. I’ve given up on the PhD idea – for now. In the end, I’d decided this before I went to see my supervisor. I discussed it with her anyway, in the hopes she could produce some miraculous idea, but no such luck. There are too many family demands on my time and attention at present for me to devote myself to such a huge project, and I felt quite upset and frustrated by that. Especially when those demands are things like ‘make sure this gets posted for me’; ‘make me a sandwich’ and ‘when did anyone last dust?’ But I have a plan; I shall spend two or three years taking some short term and/ or part time contracts for things, as well as doing other independent study to keep my hand in.