Sunday, 28 September 2008

Malvern Autumn Show

We've just had another cracking weekend, this time in Malvern for their Autumn Show. Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and I arrived at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern for a two day solo show. Although we know the site well it was set up a bit differently, and our arena was in a completely different place to usual! It was a nice change though, and all our shows went really well, the boys were fantastic, the crowds were brilliant and once again the sun shone for the whole weekend!

We also managed to catch up with some friends we haven't seen for a while including Henry Ray (with Larry the Bedlington terrier, and selected ferrets) and Gus Dermody with his amazing sheepdogs (Tia's my favourite!) and Indian Runner ducks! It's been a bit of a month for sheepdogs and herding, but Gus is exceptional in the way he trains his dogs - they are so responsive and obviously absolutely love their work, they really are a joy to watch!

On Saturday evening we discovered the Harvest Pavilion which was home to the giant vegetable competition. And boy, were they GIANT! In fact, the biggest pumpkin in Europe was the star attraction, weighing in at an immense 1.3 tonnes! We had huge amounts of fun taking lots of pictures with all the veg - so much so that people kept laughing at us! But we didn't care - they made our weekend! There were lots of other things to see and do at the show, we were right next to a huge collection of steam driven engines and vintage tractors. The engines were doing all sorts of different jobs, some were powering light bulbs, some sawing logs, some pumping water, some pressing cider apples and one was even milking a plastic cow! Click here to see all the photos from the weekend...

We've not got any more outdoor shows now this season, but we're off up to Lincolnshire on Friday for a one day show on Saturday. It's an indoor display - so come rain or shine it doesn't matter! I'll tell you all about it next week...

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Midland Gamefair

We've just had a super successful weekend - FINALLY!! Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and I set off for Weston Park on Friday and arrived on site within two hours without any breakdowns! The ground was lovely and we were able to set up really close to the arena, which always makes everything a little bit easier! We were there for a two day duo show, and although we've still got quite a few shows left this season it was our final duo booking, so we wanted to make it a good one!

Both the shows went really well on Saturday, the audience was brilliant, the boys were fantastic, and the sun shone! In the evening Rebecca and I took the boys for a ride around the site. The show was far bigger than we thought so instead of riding around the park we spent an hour riding around the showground. The show was closed and everyone had gone home so we could canter up and down all the aisles past all the shops, it was loads of fun and the boys were loving it! We were out for longer than we meant to be and it got completely dark - it's a good job horses can see in the dark as Rebecca and I couldn't see a thing!

Sunday was another beautiful day, and both our shows again went very well. We have to thank Phoebe for taking hundreds of fantastic photos - click here to have a look at them - I couldn't choose between them all so there's loads up there! We also managed to watch Cyrill the Squirell and his terrier racing team, which was hilarious and also the Band of the Ghurkas who were very impressive, playing lots of tunes which got stuck in our heads all day long!

The lorry managed to make it home again with no problems, so it was a good weekend from start to finish! We're off to Malvern on Friday for a two day solo show, we know the showground well so all were hoping for is some more good weather! I'll let you know...

Love Rosie xx

Sunday, 14 September 2008

World Sheepdog Trials

We've just had a lovely few days in Wales - and the sun shone for the shows! Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and I set off for Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire on Wednesday, but no sooner had we stopped at the first services on the M5 than the lorry broke down - AGAIN! So we rang the breakdown people ('we'll be with you in an hour') and sat and waited. The breakdown man diagnosed the problem to be the starter motor, bump started us and told us not to stop or stall for the rest of the five hour drive! So now we had a lorry that wouldn't start, and when it was started wouldn't stop unless it was stalled - brilliant! Everybody at home was really helpful and between us all we managed to arrange for a new started motor to be bought, brought over to us, and for some local mechanics to come out and fit it, and all before we'd even got to Wales - thankyou Andy, Katherin and Chris!

Thankfully we managed to reach the site with no further dramas, but the field was a sea of mud and the rain was incesant - perfect weather for setting up! Luckily this was the only rain we had, and the next four days were lovely and sunny. On Thursday evening Rebecca and I cycled up to the nearby ruined castle for a little bit of exploring, and from the top we could look down at the entire showground - our lorry and tent looked tiny!

On Friday our new started motor arrived with Rebecca's Mum and Dad, and shortly after two lovely mechanics, Anton and Mark, arrived to fit it. We were all in suspense when they'd finished and asked us to try and start the lorry, I turned the key and... CLICK! Nothing! By this point Rebecca and I were really starting to hate the lorry, but Mark and Anton knew what they were doing and managed to fix the problem in a matter of minutes. It turned out it wasn't the starter motor at all but just the terminal on the battery, so the breakdown man could have quite easily fixed it in the first place and saved us a lot of hassle and expense!

After all the stress Rebecca and I took the horses for a ride for a bit more exploring and also took them up to the castle. They really do love going off to different places and seeing different things, and although they're both quite well travelled I think it was the first time either of them had been in a castle!

Over the weekend we watched quite a bit of the trialling. It looks really difficult, and the skill with which the handlers controlled their dogs, who in turn controlled the sheep was really impressive - if only I could get Tinker to be so responsive! The title was eventually won by Aled Owen and Roy, so the home crowd were happy to have a welshman as world champion.

All our shows went really well, and although the ground was quite slippery from all the rain earlier in the week the boys really looked after us and took things steady. We managed to get lots of photos of various different things, click here to have a look at them. We're off to Weston Park on Friday for the Midland Gamefair, a two day duo show. The journey shouldn't be too long this time - providing we don't have any more breakdowns! I'll let you know how we get on...

Love Rosie


Monday, 8 September 2008

Wolsingham Agricultural Show and Private Party: The worst weekend in history!

We have officially just had the worst weekend in Jive Pony history, ever! Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Rachel, Tinker and I set off for Wolsingham Agricultural Show, Durham on Friday morning, an hour later than planned. The drive turned out to be slightly longer than we expected, mainly due to the fact that the rain was horrendous for the entire journey - we had the windscreen wipers on for the whole six hours! We arrived at the site via a tiny lane and had almost reached the gates when we met someone with a trailer who insisted he couldn't reverse the twenty feet necessary to let us past - so I ended up having to reverse the lorry about quarter of a mile instead! When we finally reached the entrance we once again had to be towed onto site and into position, not a good start! Next we had to set the tent up, and the rain was still relentless! We then realised that the rain had seeped into the the luton of the lorry and all our bedding and beds were wet - just what we needed! The rain still didn't let up overnight and Becca got up about four times in the night to push the collected water off the roof of the tent - if she hadn't it would have been resting on the horses' heads by the morning!

Come the morning we went and had a look at our arena, only to realise that the ground conditions were really treacherous so unfortunately it was decided that we couldn't perform. We were really disappointed as we all love doing the shows, but it was just too dangerous. Plus only about two people had come to the show so there wouldn't have been anyone watching anyway! So we packed everything back up again (still in the pouring rain) making sure we packed all our bedding into bin liners this time, and set of for Somerset. The only good thing was that we got to leave at midday - five hours ahead of schedule! As we drove down it became apparent just how bad the rain was, we passed many fields which were completely flooded - some even had large round bales of straw floating around in them!

We'd been driving for four hours when all of a sudden - BANG! The lorry had a blow out on one of the front tyres. I managed to pull over but there was no hard shoulder, so we were stranded on a really busy bit of dual carriageway, stuck halfway out into the inside lane. Having called the breakdown people ('we'll be with you in an hour') we called the police to let them know we were causing an obstruction. Within ten minutes of calling them we had two highway patrol vehicles, three officers and a large number of cones surrounding us! We then noticed that one of the headlight glasses had dropped out and smashed! But the nice tyre man managed to sort us out and we were off again two hours later - and still three hours ahead of schedule!

Three hours later we were happily trucking along, Becca driving now, when all of a sudden we lost all power. Becca managed to pull over but we were level with a slip road on the motorway so once again there was no hard shoulder! We called the breakdown people again ('we'll be with you in an hour') and sat and waited. When he finally arrived the recovery man insisted that we tilt the cab on the lorry so he could get a proper look at the engine. So we moved all our props, bedding, costumes, tack and everything else off the luton, dismantled the front to allow the tilt - only to find that the cab was just too heavy, even with five of us we couldn't lift it! He eventually found the problem (a broken stop solenoid) and fixed it. However, we weren't quite as good as new - now the only way to stop the engine was to stall it! But we were back on the road again - and still half an hour ahead of our original schedule! The recovery man followed us to the next services to check we'd be ok, and we were planning on filling up with diesel, but the services had had a power failure so were unable to serve fuel. We both felt like crying! Luckily the recovery man knew a sneaky back way to get to the service station on the other side of the motorway, but it took ages to get there and back, so by the time we were back on the road it was much later than it should have been. We then had to navigate our way around Bristol City Centre - not the easiest task in a big lorry when you've already been travelling for twelve hours! We finally arrived at our destination at 1am, settled the horses, sorted ourselves out and fell into bed at about 2am!

Morning came and the first thing Becca and I noticed was that it wasn't raining!! We went down to set out the arena and realised we were going to struggle as it was on quite a steep slope, and very very wet. We decided the going was officially soft to heavy! The show started off well, but after only five minutes the generator powering all the sound system failed and we were left with no music, no speakers and no microphones! After an agonisingly embarrassing wait they managed to get it working but the only CD the system would play was ABBA Gold (!) - so we ended up doing the rest of the show to random tracks by ABBA! It was all very strange...

The horses were trying their hardest but the ground was just getting worse and worse, and the sound system was still refusing to work properly, so it was decided (once again) that we couldn't perform any more. So instead Rebecca and Ronan did pony rides whilst I led around one of the donkeys (Daisy) in whose honour the party was being held!

There was live music in the form of the Mangled Wurzels who were absolutely brilliant! They sang all the songs fantastically and Becca and I danced and danced! At the end Becca requested 'Combine Harvester' and then got up on the stage to sing along with the band - the weekend was finally fun!

The journey home was thankfully uneventful, and the boys were more than happy to be turned out into the field - both promptly rolling and covering themselves in mud! I then got into my car and left for home, got about 100m down the road, and realised that I had a flat tyre! I couldn't believe it. Becca came and helped me change it but it was just the icing on the cake for the whole weekend! But despite having the absolutely worst weekend imaginable, every single person we met along the way was absolutely lovely. The organisers in Wolsingham, the rescue and recovery people, the highway officers, Susan whose party it was on Sunday and all her friends and family really made the whole weekend bearable. Everybody was so kind and generous so thankyou very much!

Anyway... onwards and upwards and on to the next show! We're off to Wales on Wednesday for a four day show, and hopefully we'll actually get to perform this time! I'll let you know...

Lots of love

Rosie xx