Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Website Update

Our website has been given a makeover in preparation for the 2010 season! It's looks really good, and has loads of new photos and information on it. Our lovely website man Scott has been a busy boy and done a brilliant job, we're both really pleased with it! Click here to have a proper browse and see for yourself! If only Becca and I could both have a makeover too - since the frosts have thawed everything is so muddy we seem to both just be constantly filthy! I can't imagine even trying to look slightly glamourous at the moment - wading around in my wellies and stamping on muck heaps is as good as it gets, so it's a relief to know that our first show is quite a long way off!
Despite the weather I have donned the false lashes in the past week - I've been busy working over at The Devil's Horsemen Buckinghamshire base performing in their Christmas Pantomime on Horseback. I'm currently trying to get my hands on some photos so as soon as I do I will be writing all about that - however I can tell you that Tinker was his usual fantastic self, and Casper made his debut performance! Not quite so fantastic though.....
I'll tell you more soon!
Hope you and your horses all had a lovely Christmas, myself and mine certainly did!
Rosie xx

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Cirque du Cheval

I had a lovely week in Dublin last week performing at the Cirque du Cheval with the Devil's Horsemen. We left on Wednesday morning (more the middle of the night - I had to be up at 4.15am!), got the ferry from Holyhead (quite a rough crossing) and arrived at the venue at about 7pm (in the rain) - so not a very glamourous start to the week! We were the headline act at the show, and were topping the bill on all the posters and programmes - along with a big photo of yours truly!

The entire show was a couple of hours long and had loads of different acts in. There were miniature horses, a Western riding display, a fantastic Cossack trick rider - and some vaulters! There were two female vaulters from France (one of whom was half Irish), but also our very own Team GB - based just up the road in Warwickshire. Team GB are trained and organised by a lovely lady called Julie, who was one of the very first vaulting coaches in this country (along with Becca's Mum Katherin) and set up one of the original clubs. I have known Julie since I started vaulting (at the age of eleven - nearly sixteen years ago now - eeek!), but unfortunately I have only seen her a handful of times since I retired from competition in 2004. It was therefore a real treat to see her again, along with her beautiful horse Go Fast. Julie's team have been selected to represent Great Britain at the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Kentucky next September. However, in order for them to be able to compete the squad needs to raise a massive £35 thousand - so it's all hands on deck for fundraising! If you'd like to find out more about Julie's vaulting group just visit her website, or to find out about Team GB and WEG and how to contribute to the fundraising effort click here. Julie's team will also be performing at Olympia next week so if you're lucky enough to have tickets make sure to see their display - if you've never seen team vaulting before (and even if you have) it'll be a real treat!

Back in Dublin and our act was the final one of the show, and thirty minutes long. We certainly filled our half hour slot - we had me in the standing saddle, all the boys doing a big fight with lots of falls, full drags and a horse fall, Dan and I dancing, a roman ride race, Dan performing Garrocha, and finally some trick riding and a finale - phew! The audiences were fantastic for every show, and were so positive and enthusiastic with their comments afterwards - they made us feel very special! After the show we went out to meet and greet everybody and had to sign loads of autographs, which always amuses me but hey ho! I had a different horse again for the standing saddle (Bolero the old faithful was busy filming in Cardiff and Cuthbert who did HOYS wasn't very well); one who I'd never even ridden before let alone stood on! Prince is a six year old Friesian stallion - and I am now his biggest fan! He looks really impressive, has loads of presence - and a mane about a metre long! The only problem I had was keeping him cantering for the full five laps of the arena for the entrance and the chase. He much prefers trot, and as I am unable to use my legs whilst standing on him there was very little I could do to keep him going. However, being a Freisian he can trot at about the same speed the others canter so it wasn't too much of a problem - it just didn't make for a very convincing chase scene!!

When we weren't busy with the shows we spent much of our time playing cards - there were no trade stands or shops about, and the venue was pretty much in the middle of nowhere and we had no transport so there was very little else to do! Despite this we managed to entertain ourselves! All the organisers were lovely, and looked after us really well. The show was put on by Irelands Horse and Pony Magazine, so keep an eye on their website for a full report. Judging by the success of the show I think they may be putting on a summer one next year - fingers crossed we get to go back! I've managed to collect quite a few photos from our week in Dublin, just click here to have a look at them. I've also found a video on YouTube - have a watch to see what we got up to!
Becca and I are currently trying to get our hands on some tickets for Olympia, not only is Julie there but also our old friends the Metropolitan Police with their Activity Ride. We first met them at the Suffolk Show back in May 2008, and ended up stealing shavings from their stables before they'd even arrived - oops! Jean-Francois Pignon is there too, and I could never ever tire of watching him and his beautiful horses, his liberty act is just incredible! I'll let you know if we manage to get here, and if we do who we manage to see!
Lots of love
Rosie xx

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Trick Training

Well it's been a little while since I've last written, but as all is fairly quiet in the Jive Pony camp at the moment there's been very little to write about! Rebecca and I are currently spending a lot of time training our baby horses, Casper and Navvy, and as we often get asked how we train them I thought I'd share a few of our secrets!
Trick training is really very simple once you learn the basics. I have run a couple of clinics now and it's really gratifying to see that, without exception, every single horse/pony has left having learnt the basics of at least two tricks. After I start them all off at the clinic it's then up to the owner to carry on with their education, but judging from the follow up emails, phone calls and texts I have received everyone is doing really well and the horses are learning fast! I also have a couple of people who were unable to attend a clinic but who I have gone and taught on a one to one basis, again with rewarding results.

So, for all of you who ask how, here is a summary of the four basic components to trick training - consistency, patience, repetition and reward - follow these and you won't go far wrong!

It is vital to decide on a suitable cue before you start training any trick, and once chosen the cue must be stuck to consistently throughout the training. This is necessary to prevent your horse from becoming confused. There are numerous types of cue:
* touch, in the form of a tickle or nudge
* sound, either words or noises
* visual, using body language or props.
Cues can be used on their own or in conjunction with other cues. You can choose your own cues for each trick, but careful thought needs to be given whilst choosing, as once training has commenced the cue must not be altered. Consistency is absolutely essential!
The saying 'Patience is a Virtue' is never more true than when it comes to trick training. Your horse must remain comfortable throughout the training session and confident in what he is learning. This can take time and is something that must not be rushed. If your horse becomes confused or distressed during a training session it is imperative you take him back to a stage where he is comfortable and feels safe in his knowledge. Remember that you want your horse to be successful, so take very small training steps and raise your expectations slowly. Some tricks take longer to learn than others and you must judge by your horse's behaviour how much you can do during each session. Pushing trick training will just result in poorly trained, unreliable tricks and a stressed horse. Trying to do too much too fast will always cause trouble!
Repeating each stage of every trick numerous times is necessary to ensure your horse learns the trick thoroughly. Each stage must be repeated until your horse produces the required behaviour without fail every time he is asked. You cannot ask for something and expect to get it on a consistent basis unless you have gone through a thorough and successful teaching process with him. Only when the desired behaviour is being produced on demand should you move onto the next stage. If your horse becomes confused you will have to take him back a step to where he is comfortable and repeat the lesson over and over until you are sure he is ready to move on to the next stage. The smaller each stage is the more confident your horse will be with the finished trick.
Correct rewarding is crucial to trick training. Your horse must be rewarded immediately when he performs the desired behaviour, be this a finished trick or an attempt to please during training. When starting a new trick this is especially important, and timing is everything. You must learn to recognise, and reward, even the smallest 'tries' on your horse's part. However, the reward must not be given until the horse tries to give the desired behaviour, otherwise the reward is for 'free', and he has not had to work for it. To start with the desired behaviour may only be a tiny movement in the correct direction but it must be rewarded immediately. Immediate reward allows the horse to associate the cue with the performed behaviour, and reassures him that he is doing the right thing. Failure to reward your horse correctly when he performs the desired behaviour will result in a horse that soon looses interest. The most effective way to reward your horse is with a food based treat of some kind. This can be apple, carrot or other feed or treat. However, each treat must be small, as you should leave your horse wanting more in order for him to carry on trying to please you! It is also important to accompany the reward with verbal praise, and remember to always sound as if you mean it - mumbling 'good boy' will mean nothing to him, you need to exclaim it!
It is the combination of consistency, patience, repetition and reward that leads to successful trick training. All are of equal importance and none can be discarded! The clearer and more specific you are about what you want your horse to do, the easier it is for him to learn. You cannot expect your horse to understand something you haven't taught him, so begin by asking a little and rewarding a lot, build on stages slowly to avoid confusion, and before you know it you'll be there!
Once your horse has mastered a trick you can be very proud of both him and yourself. However, the work doesn't stop there! Correct rewarding remains of great importance. Every time you ask him for a trick you must ensure it is performed correctly before rewarding him. If he only puts a bit of effort in, doesn't get it quite right, but still gets rewarded his tricks will become careless, and all the effort you both put into learning will be wasted! This applies to both of you though! You must still be consistent with your cues, explain to him clearly what it is that you want, and reward him correctly when he carries out the desired behaviour - sloppy training leads to sloppy tricks!

Trick training is a never ending journey. No matter how many tricks your horse knows, there will always be more out there that he doesn't. Use your imagination, use your horse's imagination, and the possibilities are endless! Each horse has his own personality, and therefore his own imagination. For example, Tinker ALWAYS yawns whenever he has either his headcollar or bridle on or off, so I simply put a cue to him every time he did it, rewarded him, and can now get him to yawn on demand! I applied the same process to Casper, who is forever curling his top lip up, and now he can 'smile' on cue!

I hope this has shed some light on the methods we both use to train our boys - we certainly don't just sit around twiddling our thumbs all winter!

I'm off to Dublin on Tuesday with The Devil's Horsemen for a week. We're doing a big show out there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so I'll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it when I get back next week. In the meantime I hope all of you and your horses and ponies are well and happy and wrapped up against the horrible November weather - Tinker and Casper certainly are!

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Sunday, 8 November 2009

What Tim did next...

It's not only Rebecca and I who have to find other means of entertaining and supporting ourselves now our season is over - Tim and Alex found themselves at a bit of a loose end come Monday 21st September ( the day after our last show, the Midland Gamefair). But neither of them hung around for long, and here's what Tim has been getting up to...

As the Jive Pony season only lasts so long a glamourous assistant must find other thing to occupy his time and feed his belly. Of late I have been working for a company called Tula Engineering, building and restoring vintage Buggatti racing cars. My new boss has very strong links with Nick Mason (the drummer from Pink Floyd) and had been asked to take his son racing for the weekend in their 1923 Buggatti Brescia. Unfortunately his son had an exam and couldn't make it. I was only to happy to step into his place and found myself on Friday heading across to Prestene in Wales for the VSCC hill climbing trial. The event entails driving up the steepest, muddiest hills the organisers can find. The driver must negotiate his car up the hill gaining points all the way to the top, where you get a maximum of 25 points for completing the course. I was going to be the passenger throughout the event - affectionately known as a Bouncer! It's the bouncer's job to try and create as much traction as possible by bouncing up and down, wiggling and leaning - not so different from my role as a glamourous assistant!
Saturday morning I was dragged out of bed at dawn to bump start the car for its 100 mile test. Not necessarily a good omen but pretty ordinary for cars that are nearly ninety years old. A few hours later we were given our score cards and drove through the town on the way to the first hill. We let the tyres down and blasted all the way up to the top spraying mud everywhere! The trickier hills were yet to come, but we'd made a good start to the weekend - only 2 points behind the leader by the end of the day! The only thing left to do was go to the pub.
Sunday was the main day and we had 12 hills to complete. We were in one of the best cars at the event worth £140,000 and my driver Charles (also my boss) has been doing this for 20 years. We were the bookies favorite at 4 to 1 and were keen to win yet anther pewter cup for the trophy shelf. First hill 25 points, second hill 25 points, third hill... 5. We drifted a little off line onto some wet grass and lost all traction, nothing I could do would help and we ground to a halt. A little embarrassed (pride does come before a fall) we drove off before our friends waiting at the top could come down and laugh. At the next hill we took off from the line and didn't slow down all the way to the top, but no matter what we did now we couldn't win, so instead of breaking the car we drove a little more cautiously from there on in. At the end all the old Bentleys, Austins, Rileys, Fords etc parked up in a field covered in mud, and all the old men in wax jackets and woolly jumpers stood around eating jacket potatoes and talking cars. We weren't too disappointed not to have won, and the fresh air and wind in your face driving in an open top car always makes me grin.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Showman's Show, Trick Training Clinic and Fun Ride

It's been a busy week in the Jive Pony camp this week. Becca and I went down to the Newbury Showground for the Showman's Show on Thursday, although only for a couple of hours this year - last year we spent two whole days there! We didn't have a stand this year as we hadn't decided we are definitely going out next year until last week, but as it's full steam ahead for 2010 now we thought we'd better show our faces and try to chat up some show organisers! We had a really fun day, and caught up with lots of friends including Dingle Fingle, Michael Murty, Felix and Felix, and Karina, as well as meeting lots of new ones such as Queen Victoria and Lady Charlotte Ponsonby, and Bjorn the Polar Bear! Have a look at the videos below to see Bjorn, he's fantastic and so realistic - although I can't begin to imagine how hot it must be for the poor person inside him! Bjorn is produced by the same company as Felix and Felix (who taught us some stunt penny farthing riding last year), have a look at their website to see all the amazing things they do - and make sure you check out their videos! I also managed to take a few photos during the day, just click here to have a look at them.

Saturday was the day for my very first Trick Training Clinic, and to say I was nervous was an understatement! It had come around so quickly I couldn't believe it, and before I knew it people were turning up with their horses and it was time to go. Despite being worried I wouldn't have much interest I ended up with ten people and horses, three people on a waiting list and two paying spectators - happy days! Unfortunately the weather was miserable, and rained almost continuously throughout the whole day. However, everybody stuck at it, and by the end of the day there wasn't a single horse (or pony!) that hadn't learnt at least one trick! There were a couple of little girls with their ponies who impressed me so much, one in particular was doing leg crosses, kisses, cuddles, saying no (head shake) and starting to paw on command all by the end of one afternoon! There were also a couple of Arabs who picked things up really quickly too - far quicker than either of my boys! All the horses did really well, concentrating far more than any of their owners expected, especially given the appalling weather!

I had real fun teaching people, although at times I found it difficult because I could see the horse nearly had it but wasn't being corrected or rewarded properly, and I had to resist the urge to step in and take over. Teaching people to teach their own horses is far harder than just teaching the horses themselves! It was also quite strange watching groups of people doing the same thing that I do so often, and doing it so well!

I'd taken both my boys along in order to do little demonstrations, and neither of them let me down. It was the first time Casper had ever done anything to an audience before, so I was quite nervous, especially as it was blowing a gale and really raining. However, he was brilliant and did all his tricks perfectly - he's definitely going to be in our shows next year! Tinker was also fabulous, doing a beautiful dance to music at the end of the day to round things off - he even got a round of applause!

I was really busy throughout the whole day, and consequently forgot to take a single photo! I was really annoyed with myself when I realised, but I'll definitely take some next time. Due to the amount of interest I've had I'm organising another one for the 21st November. Book quickly to avoid disappointment - I've already got three people booked in! Lastly a huge thankyou to Rich for letting me use his school (and apologies for Casper eating a rail!), and for setting up a brilliant little marquee for people to shelter under - not sure what we'd have done without it! Also thanks to Tor for providing delicious cakes and hot drinks for everyone - and yes, I did take the leftover cakes home!

Sunday was busy too, as Becca and I took our baby boys, Casper and Navvy, to Cotswold Farm Park for a fun ride. We'd taken them to one back in June, but they're such good education for them we decided to go to another! Although the weather wasn't quite as nice as it was in June we had a brilliant day. Both the boys managed to jump (scramble over!) far more than either of them ever have before, and both really tried for us - although Casper was more trying at some points! It was lovely to be out and about in the park, it really is quite beautiful. All the trees were amazing colours, and being as we'd arrived so late and set off last we had nobody else around us - it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! They run the rides throughout the year, so we may well go back again soon - although next time I think I may take Tinker, he definitely isn't impressed when the lorry goes off without him!

Having had such a busy few days it's back to the regular normality (if you can ever call it that!) of training the horses and sorting things out for next year. We're going to be spicing the show up quite a bit for next year, we've got so many ideas and possibilities - so watch this space!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Horse of the Year Show

I had a brilliant week last week up at the NEC for the Horse of the Year Show. I was there with the Devil's Horsemen, as part of their Phantom of the Opera display. I was really looking forward to the show, it's an amazing feeling performing in such a perfect arena, with lights, music, special effects and of course the huge audience!

We arrived on the Monday for two days packed full of rehearsals, before the show started on Wednesday. Unfortunately, we realised in our final rehearsal on Tuesday night that what we had planned wasn't quite working as well as we needed it to, so come Wednesday morning (with no more rehearsals to go) we completely rewrote the show and changed virtually everything we had practised! Thankfully my part was very straightforward and all things I had done before so the changes didn't really affect me!

Our first show on Wednesday went without hitch, and the audience loved it. The main part of the show involved Dan performing Garrocha with Dante, whist Natasha (the aerial artist) performed a beautiful routine on the silks. There were also opera singers on a podium in the centre of the arena - no CD's for us! Our display also had me in the standing saddle, full drags, horse falls and trick riding - we packed a lot into 15 minutes! Watch the video below to get an idea of what we got up to!

We also had plenty of time to ourselves during the week, as Wednesday to Friday we only had one performance in the evening, so ended up with about twelve hours to kill everyday! I wasted plenty of time wandering around the retail halls, watching the showjumping, showing and other displays, as well as sleeping and eating lots! There were also many people I knew there, so it was nice to catch up (and probably annoy by never going away!) with everyone, including Paul the lovely fudge man (New Cottage Fudge - his crumbly butter is amazing!); Terri and Colin Kirkwood, who are always so friendly, Terri's paintings are always so beautiful - it's one of my ambitions to one day be able to afford one of her originals! Also Tom, Abi and Emily from Dubarry, and the various massage demonstration stands where Laura and I spent A LOT of time! (My back's never felt so loose!). So sorry if we annoyed you all but thankyou for entertaining us!

Becca came up to see the show on the Saturday evening, but due to timings I didn't really get to see much of her! I think she enjoyed it though... Saturday night was also puissance night. That wall is just so huge, anyone who even contemplates jumping it instead of walking round it is mad as far as I'm concerned! (But then I do stand on and hang off horses for a living so hey ho, each to their own!). There were quite a few crashes though, I think the whole thing came down about three or four times, and at least two people fell off - all very exciting! Ellen Whitaker won in the end, riding one of the most superb rounds. Her horse was being so difficult it was incredible that she stayed on let alone got it to jump. As Becca said, she was 'the mutts nuts!'

The rest of the weekend went well and before we knew it it was Sunday night and we were in the finale. This was a bit different to the other displays and I had to sit behind Dan on Dante's bottom for the duration. This normally isn't a problem, but Dante wasn't in a very cooperative mood this time! He was full of himself and kept whizzing around, making it very difficult to sit there looking elegant! He'd also had coat shine put on him all week (thanks Karina!), and I had my shiny tights on, so all in all it was VERY difficult! We were positioned right by the Sky box in the corner of the arena, and although I've not seen their broadcast, apparently all you can see behind the presenters is Dan, Dante and me, and Laura on Benz, doing anything but standing still - very embarrassing! Once everyone was in the arena we all sung Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem (except me who was too busy hanging on and Dan who was too busy swearing at Dante in Spanish!). They then had the reading of the Ode to the Horse, which is so beautiful and really captures how lucky we are to have horses in our lives. It never fails to make me cry! It was finally time to leave the arena, and after everyone had filed out the final spectacle of the 2009 Horse of the Year Show was Dante rearing in the spotlight. Beautiful. Except that he did such an enormous rear, he was practically vertical. Both Dan and I thought he was going to come over backwards on top of us at one point, and I honestly have no idea how I stayed on. If he'd have stayed up for another fraction of a second I'd have been gone, and that would have easily been the most embarrassing moment of my life (second only to the episode at last years mini HOYS!). Thankfully I stayed on, and even managed to let go on the way out! And at least it looked impressive!!

All in all it was a fantastic week, and I managed to get a lot of photos, just click here to see them. I'm now in full preparation mode for my first Trick Training Clinic, which is taking place next Saturday. Despite being worried that it wouldn't be very popular, I've managed to fill all nine places, have a waiting list and have paying spectators coming! I'd better make it good! Wish me luck and I'll let you know how I get on!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Ode to the Horse

Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy or beauty without vanity?
Here, where grace is laced with muscle, and strength by gentleness confined.
He serves without servility; he has fought without enmity.
There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent.
There is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.
England’s past has been borne on his back. All our history is his industry; we are his heirs, he our inheritance.
The Horse!

By Ronald Duncan

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Becca's Annie Oakley

Becca spent last week in Paris as Annie Oakley and has written all about it for the blog - enjoy!

As for me, I'm off to the NEC for a week tomorrow to be part of the Devil's Horsemen display at Horse of the Year Show - so I'll tell you all about that next week!

So with the Jive Pony season finished I had one day to get the lorry cleaned out, the costumes washed and stored and then it was back off to Disneyland Paris to reprise my part time role as the gun toting Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show! I was really excited to go back and see everyone I had met in April, however I was a little apprehensive as I hadn't fired a gun since then let alone fired one whilst whizzing around on horse back, all the time hoping the horse remembers the show better than me!
The early morning start was interesting as I realised I had forgotten my phone halfway to Oxford but didn't have enough time to go back and get it, a mistake that I was to find out later in the week was far more than inconvenient! But anyway the rest of the journey was smooth apart from the fact that I had packed so much stuff I was a little worried I may have to buy another ticket for my bag! However, thankfully I arrived unscathed and got down to work straight away. The first day back was a refresher with the two 38 millimeter pistols and the Winchester rifle that Annie is so famous for. We shot a lot of shells, in fact so many that the Winchester got hot and we had to have a little break, but it was a great feeling to fire the guns again. Over the next few days we went over the script and rode horses, tried out hair and make up, and did research on Annie.
It really is pretty cool over there. There is someone to groom and tack up your horse, do your hair and make up and help you get dressed. A far cry from sticking your slap on in the back of the Jive Pony lorry and having to do all your own mucking out!! Anyway Friday was my first show day and I couldn't wait. However, I'd been to a BBQ on the Thursday evening and I think I must have eaten a dodgy sausage because Friday morning I was really really not at all well. I'm not going into detail, but trust me it was not good! So I had to phone in sick, but guess what, that's right - I had no phone. I therefore had to drag myself out of bed and go and figure out the french phone card system, which at the best of times is confusing but when you're ill it's horrendous!! I got to the point of wanting to stick a fork in my eye for some light relief! Anyway to cut a long story short another Annie was brought in (thanks Elana!). I woke up on Saturday morning with trepidation hoping I was OK, and........I was, phew! I had a great time doing the shows on Saturday to a completely packed arena, the atmosphere was awesome and the shows went really well. I shot a few "gofers" which is when your gun goes off by mistake (whoops!) but other than that it was great. The Buffalo Bill I worked with this time was called Geoffrey and he was so wonderful, he made me laugh all the time. We had a little session of singing some show tunes and doing some musical theatre dancing in the corridor, very amusing! I also got to see the inside of Buffalo Bill's Dressing room, but no pictures, top secret!
I stayed an extra day on Sunday to make up for missing Friday and was really glad I did as we had another couple of very fun shows, with the cowboys playing some very funny tricks in the show as it was one of their birthdays! I managed to take a few pictures of training and back stage to show you a sneaky peak of what goes on, just click here to see them - hope you like them!
I'm back home now and training the new boy Navvy who is coming along great, and I'm going to watch Rosie perform at HOYS on Friday, can't wait!
So until the next installment, lots of love, Rebecca aka Annie Oakley! XX

Monday, 21 September 2009

Midland Gamefair

Our 2009 season is over! We finished it off with one of our very favourite shows, the Midland Gamefair at Weston Park in Shropshire. Last year we had a fantastic time at this show, so we were really looking forward to going back. We were there for a two day duo so on Friday Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker, Tim and Alex set off on the relatively short journey (only 70 miles this time!) and arrived a couple of hours later with no mishaps on the way - hooray!

One of the main reasons we love this show is that we get to see so many friends, and sure enough the first person to greet us when we arrived was the lovely Robin Gee! Last time we saw Robin was at the CLA Gamefair back in July, when he was our knight in fluorescent armour after the lorry blow out! We caught up with loads of other people too, including: Willowe, who always looks after us so well; Paul (Cyril the Squirrel); Gus Dermody, who is retiring from the show circuit to concentrate more on trialling, and will be much missed along with his fantastic dogs; John Lamb, the main ring commentator, who along with promoting my blog by describing it as 'a wonderful dissertation' also managed to embarrass me by announcing I would be signing on at the Job Centre after this weekend! And not forgetting Tom and the rest of the Dubarry team for their excellent customer service and free champagne! Becca and I both have a shiny new pair of boots now, so big thankyous to Dubarry for Becca's and Becca for mine!

There were also lots of other things going on in the ring including displays by some gorgeous heavy horses and some tiny miniature horses, falconry, terrier racing and the fantastic Ghurka Band who always impress us with their style and precision. There's quite a few photos from the weekend (lots taken by John Lamb - thankyou!), just click here to have a look at them.

As per last year the weather was glorious all weekend, and all our shows went well. We did have one slight problem though - we managed to forget our roman riding strap - oops! Luckily we realised before the first show otherwise it would have been a disaster! We used my belt in the end - not ideal but a good substitute! The boys were fantastic (apart from Tinker deciding to engage his turbo boost gear at the end of the first show - soooo fast!!). The crowds were also amazing, especially Chris and Mike, who had a clothing stall next to the arena and stood on the tables during our strip and ROARED their encouragement!! We also saw a lot of Grease arms which always makes us smile, so if you were there - thankyou for making our last shows so memorable!

When we came out of the arena for the final time on Sunday afternoon both Becca and I felt quite emotional. We've had an eventful year this year starting right back in April at the Mid Suffolk Show, and some days have been harder than others. Overall though it has been fantastic. Becca and I are so lucky to have Tim and Alex, who work together so well and really are far more than just our glamourous assistants - monkeys we salute you! And of course Tinker and Ronan. They are just the most fabulous horses and we really couldn't do any of it without them. They keep us sane when things are crazy and always try their utmost and give their all, even after spending hours on the lorry being driven for miles around the country. They make us laugh, and sometimes cry, but they are always there, always willing, calm and patient, and I cannot express how much we love them both, they really mean the world to us. Boys - thankyou.

Whilst Tinker and Ronan are having a well earned rest, Becca and I will still be keeping busy. We both have young horses, Casper and Navvy, who are learning the ropes. They should both be ready for next year so hopefully not only will the show be able to grow, but Tinker and Ronan may be able to have a weekend off! However, it will be scary bringing out a novice horse - neither of us have done it for quite a while now, as Tinker and Ronan are both such old hands!

Becca is off to Paris tomorrow to reprise her role as Annie Oakley in Disneyland's Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and will be back and forth there throughout the winter. She also has our 2010 season to organise - which looks like it could be very very busy! Whilst I am officially unemployed (but won't be signing on, thankyou John!) I have a number of things to keep me busy. I am now qualified as a massage therapist so will be trying to pick up a few more clients over the winter - so if you'd like any treatments get in touch! I'll also be doing a bit of work for the Devil's Horsemen, and possibly Tinker will too - just so he doesn't forget everything! On top of that I'm planning to run some trick training clinics, to teach people how to teach their horses some of the things our boys can do. The first one will hopefully be at the end of October, in North Oxfordshire so, again, if you're interested get in touch!

So, although Jive Pony may have packed up it's kit for 2009, Rebecca and I certainly haven't. We're going to turn the blog into a 'Rebecca and Rosie Blog' for the winter, so you can still see what we're up to and how we're getting on.

All that remains to be said is a great big thankyou to everyone who has supported us over the season - you make it what it is. Thankyou!

Lots of love,
Rosie xx

Monday, 7 September 2009

Moreton Show

Moreton Show - tick, done it! (Finally!) And what a brilliant day it was! It started a little unconventionally though. We were told on Friday that we either had to have the lorry on site before 5pm that day, or before 7am in the morning - and as we didn't fancy getting up at 5.30 to wash the horses and get everything ready when we weren't performing until 1.45pm, we decided to set up on Friday afternoon and then ride the horses there in the morning. So, come Saturday morning, Rebecca, Ronan, Tinker and I set off for the three mile hack to the showground! The boys seemed a little confused as to what was happening - they don't normally have a full bath just to go for a ride! Realisation dawned on them though as we approached the showground - they're not stupid those two! It was reminiscent of our approach to the CLA Gamefair, although this time wasn't quite so stressful! Both Tim and Alex were there to meet us, so we had the full team present! Have a look at the video below to see us arriving in style!

We'd been there about five minutes before we bumped into the first people we knew - and it didn't stop there! Everywhere we turned there were friends, family and acquaintances - all wanting to know what time we were on and saying they couldn't wait to see us perform! So, needless to say we were very nervous! The first show couldn't have gone better, the crowd were about four or five people deep around the entire arena, and they really got behind us - clapping, cheering, whistling, and doing the Grease arms alongside us during the roman riding! I can't describe the buzz we all get from having the support of a large audience, it really does make you feel amazing! Practically everywhere we looked around the arena there were smiling faces we recognised, so if you were there - THANKYOU!

The second show didn't go quite so well, but it was good fun nonetheless! My microphone didn't work for the initial introduction, so Tim raced over with Rebecca's but managed to spook Tinker nearly making me fall off - now that would have been embarrassing! Next Alex did manage to fall off during the volunteer part, and then Ronan had the longest wee just before the final vaulting part of the show! However, we had a good laugh at it all and the crowd reactions were still fantastic - so I don't think any of the hiccups mattered in the end! And it turns out we weren't the only ones with problems. The Kangaroo Kid managed to misjudge one of his jumps and land on one of the Mitsubishis, winding himself and damaging the roof of the truck - oops! It did make him one of the main talking points of the show though so it's not all bad!

We had such good feedback from everybody, it really made it worthwhile. We've worked very hard to get Moreton Show and the overall feeling we got was that people couldn't understand why it has taken so long. We also had two of my most favourite comments from organisers all season: 'Whatever, they're paying you, it isn't enough', and; 'When can we book you again?' In answer to the last one - NEXT YEAR!!

I can't believe it but our season has nearly come to an end. We've got one more show left - a two day duo at the Midland Gamefair, in a fortnights time. This is a lovely show that we really enjoyed last year, so it'll hopefully be a good one to finish on! I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime have a look at the photos from Moreton by clicking here.

Lots of love,

Rosie xx

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Eye Show

We've just had a fantastic bank holiday weekend at the Eye Show - our fourth one of the year in Suffolk! Rebecca, Ronan, Tinker and myself set off on Saturday for the journey up the A14, and met Tim at one of the junctions. However, Tim had been standing on the windy motorway bridge waiting for us for a while, and his hair is quite long at the moment, so by the time we met him his hair was exceptionally big - as you can see from the photo above he truly looked like a mad professor! We arrived and set up with no problems at all, except that the ground was so hard we could barely get the stakes for the tent in!

We were really looking forward to the show as their arena programme was packed with loads of different acts, some we'd seen before such as the Sheep Show and the Vander Brothers Wheel of Death Extreme, and some we hadn't such as the Red Arrows and Icelandic Beer Racing. There were also dog and duck displays, dressage displays, rugby demonstrations, tree felling competitions and all sorts - we were in for a busy weekend!

Sunday was a lovely day and both our shows went really well with no mishaps - which was a nice change from our last attempts at Tysoe and Cheshire! Having turned the boys out in the arena for the evening we entertained ourselves playing bat and ball and juggling - all with limited success! We'd been warned that there was going to be a 'rather noisy' party in one of the marquees in the evening so off we all went to investigate..... and found out that it was a foam party! When they started the foam machine everybody crowded around and was soon immersed in it, before coming out looking rather bedraggled! However, because of the warning signs saying the foam could cause damage to skin and clothes, and should be showered off as soon as possible we decided to avoid it - as although our lorry does have a shower we haven't worked out how to use it yet!
Monday was another gorgeous day, and as we weren't on until 1.45 we spent the morning wandering around the showground. We watched the Vander Brother's act, and instead of being scared of the wheel we just wanted a go ourselves! Maybe if we could teach the horses to do it.... We also saw the Icelandic Beer Racing which was quite amusing. The ponies have their own special gait, called Tölting, and to demonstrate how smooth the gait is they race around holding glasses of beer (or cold tea!) - whoever has the most left at the end wins! Have a look at the little video below to see some racing!

Monday was also the day for the Red Arrows - which we were really looking forward to! I'd just got on Tinker to start warming him up when all of a sudden WHOOSH!! They appeared as if from nowhere, nine of them and extremely loud! I needn't have worried though, Tink didn't even bat an eyelid - I think they made me jump more than him! They proceeded to do the most amazing display of air acrobatics, twisting and turning, doing tight formations, and painting the sky with their coloured smoke trails. I think every single person at the show had their eyes trained to the sky for there whole performance, it really was amazing. Have a look at the videos below to see what I mean - I couldn't decide which I liked best so I've put them all up! We also took some pictures over the weekend - though unfortunately we didn't manage to get any of our shows! Click here to have a look at them.

Our shows went well again, and then it was back down the A14 and home. We're doing a duo show at Moreton Show on Saturday which we're very nervous about. It's the biggest one day agricultural show in our area and we've been trying to get it for five years, with no luck until now! So we really want it to go well, and lots of our friends and family are coming too - more pressure! I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie xx

Monday, 17 August 2009

Tysoe Flower Show and Cheshire Gamefair

We've just had one of the most amusing weekends of the entire season - like an extended comedy of errors! Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker and Alex set off for Tysoe Flower Show (just 15 miles down the road) on Saturday morning. Although Tim was supposed to come with us, problems with the trains meant he was going to have to cycle to the show ground from the station - not a major issue but just the first thing to go wrong during the course of the two days!
Having arrived at Tysoe we decided to set up the tent as the weather looked a bit changeable, and we didn't want a repeat of the soaking we got there a couple of years ago! We had the horses wandering about whilst we set up which was fine - until the Alpacas arrived. Now, neither Tinker nor Ronan have ever come across Alpacas before, and the Alpacas had never met horses, so all of them spent the next fifteen minutes (and the rest of the day on Tinker's part) snorting, jumping, and eyeing each other up - much to our amusement! The Alpacas were actually very sweet, and quite friendly. They had been shorn and their fleeces were incredibly soft, as were the clothes that had been produced from their yarn. The only problem I had was after I had been stroking them Tinker didn't want anything to do with me until I had washed my hands!

The first show went without incident, other than the fact I ripped a hole in my tights - annoying at £10 per pair! Although I had thought Tinker would be difficult and on his toes (because of the petrifying Alpacas) he was fantastic and did a brilliant show - hooray! However, the second show didn't run quite so smoothly... The first problem came as Rebecca ran along behind Ronan - and realised his tail was still plaited up! This isn't like a show plait, but instead just a loose plait down his entire tail in order to keep his tail clean - and none of us noticed it was still in until it was too late - oops! Rebecca managed to get most of it undone, and then carried on with the strip, which was when the problems with the music stated. The strip to the music is very choreographed but the track kept jumping all over the place, starting again at the beginning, then skipping to the end, and back to the middle. It sounded awful but Rebecca just had to carry on regardless! Thankfully we reached the end of the show without any more mishaps, we'd had enough for one day already!

Tysoe is a lovely little show and they have all sorts of things going on. There were vegetable, flower and baking classes, robot making competitions, a fun dog show, an aunt sally alley, and lots of people taking part in all of them! Katherin (Rebbecca's mum) came to see us and bought Rebecca's cousin Simeon with her. Simeon is David's brother, who came to see us at the Middlesex Show back in June, and also seem quite amused to find out what we were up to! We also met up with our friend Mike from Fuller's who we see at quite a few shows with his pair of beautiful Shires, Griffin and Pride. Tinker and Ronan especially love Mike as he always has a treat or two in his pocket for them! It's Mike's birthday on Friday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mike from all of us at Jive Pony!

Having packed the tent down it was time to set off for Knutsford, and the Cheshire Gamefair. We arrived and set up the tent (for the second time of the day), marked out the arena and settled in for the night. In the morning Alex was up bright and early as he had been invited out on hound exercise with the kennels, so whilst the rest of us were snoozing he was cycling around the countryside for two hours. Much as we all love Alex, it was a peaceful change without him in the morning!

The first show went really well. Until the very end that is. The arena was quite tricky as it was very uneven and on a bit of a slope, but had not been as difficult as we had anticipated. We'd reached the very very end of the show and were merrily waving our ribbon sticks when disaster struck. Tinker had sped up when I pulled out my ribbon stick and was going around the very edge of the arena. I was sitting on his neck with my legs crossed up by his ears when he came across a big dip in the arena, baulked at it and then jumped it! I didn't stand a chance and before I knew it I was in a big heap on the ground watching him canter off without me! I was more surprised than anything as it all happened so quickly, but I jumped up and started dancing to the music! (Probably not the best reaction but hey ho!) Tinker carried on until the other side of the arena where he stopped stock still, until I ran over and jumped back on him, pulled out my mic and closed the show with Becca. Very embarrassing but very very funny!

So, two shows and two pairs of tights down, we went into the second show praying things would go better. But it was not to be! We entered the arena with our music jumping all over the place as it had done at Tysoe (diferent CD, same problem!), and before we'd even gone down one side of the arena there was a loose dog chasing Ronan's heels. Great. So, CD reset and dog caught we carried on, with things going smoothly. Until the roman riding. I started off well, but as Becca approached for the first time things took a comedy turn for the worst. Ronan somehow managed to stand on her heel just as she jumped up, and pulled her boot clean off!! She mounted anyway and we did the opening 'Grease' arms in hysterics - it was hard to concentrate we were laughing so hard! After I had jumped off Becca then had to step over to Tinker with just a stocking clad foot (very slippery) and ram her foot under my roller to keep herself on - no mean feat (pardon the pun) when you're standing over two cantering horses on a bumpy, slopey arena! She did brilliantly though and once I'd got back on she got off, ran across the arena, retrieved her boot and put it back on, before joining me back on the horses - and we were still in time with the music! It was then my turn (again) for a mishap. During the final 'Grease' arms I had a slow motion losing of balance. I could feel myself going but there didn't seem to be anything I could do about it! At the last minute Becca grabbed my arm, just as I grabbed the handles on my roller, managed to right myself, and we finished perfectly! But it was easily the most amusing roman ride we've ever done - and I am giggling away to myself as I'm writing from the memory of it!!

Thankfully the rest of the show went without a hitch - I don't think we could have coped with much more! We then packed down and set off for home. We've not got any shows this weekend, so I'm off to do a Wild West show with the Devil's Horsemen - no rest for the wicked! Our next show is over the bank holiday weekend at Goodrich Park, so I'll tell you all about that when we get back. In the mean time, click here to see the photos from the weekend - and see if you can spot some of the things I've told you about! (And just to mention some of the other things I haven't told you about: Tim nearly crashing Ronan into us during the safety announcement; Ronan's roller slipping just before I had to vault on him; Becca slipping a bit too much when Tim knocked her off Ronan during the volunteer part; Rebecca and I jumping the boys over some cross country jumps in our vaulting tack, and; the daddylonglegs that nearly made me fall off the lorry roof! All in all, a funny weekend!!)

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

H Factor Competition and Danson Fair

We've just had another busy weekend, although this one was slightly different to what we're used to! On Saturday the whole team (Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker, Tim and Alex) set off for Addington Manor Equestrian Centre to take part in the H Factor competition. It was a bit strange when we arrived as there were lots of people we sort of knew but, as it was a competition, everyone seemed to be sizing one another up and we all felt a bit awkward! It's been quite a few years since either Rebecca, Tim or I have competed, but the memories came flooding back - along with the nerves! I can honestly say I cannot remember the last time I felt so nervous. Not only were we to perform in front of five judges but also, as there was no public involved, to an audience consisting of purely horsey people involved in the same sphere as us!

There were nine acts there, and we knew three of them, so we eventually plucked up the courage to go and talk to them. It turned out everybody was just as nervous, so we all decided to just go for it and have as much fun as possible - easier said than done when you're as anxious as we were! Our turn came around just before lunchtime, so we had everybody else watching us, and before we knew it we were on! The boys were brilliant and in general it all went really well. There were a few bits that didn't go as smoothly as usual because we'd cut the show to fit into the twenty minute slot, but all in all we felt good about it. The one thing that took us by surprise was that by the end of the roman riding we were miles in front of the music - because we were doing it in an arena the area we were covering was much smaller, so our running and swapping over had taken far less time than usual, but better that way round than running out of time! My favourite part was right at the end (!!) when we were both standing up waving our ribbon sticks with Tinker cantering about two lengths behind Ronan - I could have practically reached forwards and caught Becca's ribbons!

We managed to watch a few of the other acts, and saw some amazing trick riding, some beautifully trained horses and dogs, jousting, and some crazy pony driving carriage jumping! I only managed to take a few photos as cameras were forbidden, but click here to see them. Then we had to wait for the results. The plan was that three acts were going to be chosen to go through to the final to perform again with the winners being announced at the end of the evening. So we all sat around nervously with our fingers crossed hoping for good news. But, unfortunately it was not to be. Alex had heard the result whilst the rest of us were back at the lorry, and just walked towards us shaking his head. We were gutted. They had also changed the plans, and had selected four acts. They were going to amalgamate two of the acts and have the final resulting three perform at the British Open in April with the public deciding who should go on to perform at Horse of the Year Show the following October.

The acts they had chosen were the two trick riding acts, a quadrille act of twenty horses and riders, and the jousting. Whilst we were congratulating everyone on getting through we were gratified to be told by many people how surprised they were that we hadn't been selected - not quite the same as being chosen but pleasing none the less! Following the announcement we went to see the judges for some feedback, which turned out to be very positive and very constructive. The main problem they had had with us was that our act simply wasn't fast enough. Whereas trick riding is performed at a gallop, vaulting is better suited to a collected canter, something which both Rebecca and I have worked very hard at training our horses to achieve (especially Tinker!). Also, whilst comparable, trick riding and vaulting are two very different disciplines, as are, for example, cross country and show jumping, so to try and increase our speed to that similar to trick riding would go against the very ethos of vaulting. However, speed was what they wanted so unfortunately we couldn't deliver. But never mind, hopefully one day we'll get there - just not this year! They also gave us some other helpful pointers about flow and focus, which we've taken on board and are working on!

On Sunday morning we once again set off bright and early, this time on our way to Danson Park for a one day solo show. This is a lovely little show, and one we had done a couple of years ago - albeit with a much smaller team! We had a lovely day catching up with lots of friends we hadn't seen since last year, especially Charlie, Emma, Tilly, Izzy, Randall and Geoff! Although our shows went well we did have some trouble with the microphone. In the first show it kept cutting in and out, and for the second show it refused to work at all unless I was standing in the corner of the arena facing the music tent! It's not easy commentating a show with your back to the arena! The weather was glorious though and we had a brilliant time. We saw the Horkesley Park Suffolk Punches, along with their beautiful new arrival - a fourteen week foal, who already weighed 190 kilos! And at the end of the day we got to play on the giant selection of inflatables! Have a look at the video below to see us on the slide - brilliant fun until you realised how many friction burns it gave you!

This weekend is busy again, with solo shows at Tysoe Flower Show (very local to us) on Saturday, before driving up to Knutsford for the Cheshire Game Fair where we're performing our duo shows on Sunday. I'll let you know how we got on next week!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Friday, 7 August 2009

Thornton le Dale Show

We had a lovely day on Wednesday at the Thornton le Dale Show - and managed the journey there and back without incident! Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker and Alex set off on Tuesday morning for the 190 mile five hour journey to Yorkshire - we're really putting in the miles this week! Having arrived and set up (with help from the lovely Jack!), we went off to explore the village (and pub!) for the evening. On our return who should we see wondering around in the dark outside the tent but Tinker! It's very rare that we leave the tent and horses by themselves, and Tinker has never escaped before (its usually Ronan's speciality!), but the naughty little monkey had apparently been running amok around the showground refusing to be caught by anyone! Having successfully returned the miscreant to his stable we were then sorting them out for the night only for Tinker to walk straight out of his stable again! He obviously had the taste for freedom and Yorkshire grass - Tinker by name...!

There was loads to see at the show and as our first performance wasn't until 1.30pm we had time to walk around and enjoy everything. We saw goats, sheep, cattle, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, pigeons and pigs. One of the pigs, a British Saddleback was soooo enormous - I've never seen a pig so big, she looked like a beached whale! Another of the pigs was so exhausted by her hectic day she had fallen fast asleep, and was snoring so loudly you could hear her from miles away - I'm sure we heard her before we saw her! And I had to take a video of her...

There was also lots of different horse classes, including: ridden fancy dress; heavy horse with foal at foot (gorgeous shire babies); decorated horse (shires covered with lots of flowers and brasses - they looked amazing); authentic driving (a lovely little butchers cart, and the most gorgeous coloured driving horse - I would have taken him home if I could!). There were also falconry demonstrations, terrier racing, and displays by the Kangaroo Gymnastic team - who were very very bouncy! To see all the photos from the day just click here - there's quite a few!

Although the day had started off rainy by the time our performances came around it was gloriously sunny - and very hot in all our costumes! Both our shows went really well and although the boys were still quite tired they definitely enjoyed themselves. The crowds were brilliant and really got behind us - and we saw some grease arms going alongside us!

We're doing something a bit different tomorrow, taking part in a competition called the H Factor (!). It's for Grandstand Media who organise lots of big shows such as Horse of the Year Show and the British Open. It's our dream to get into the big indoor shows like these - to perform under the lights with a bit of production behind us would be really special - so we're going to be trying our hardest to impress them! Wish us luck and keep you fingers crossed for us! Then on Sunday we're off down to Danson Park for a day of solo shows. We've done this show before and are really looking forwards to catching up with some old friends who we've not seen for a while. So, it's another busy weekend for us, and I'll tell you all about it next week!

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Monday, 3 August 2009

Dumfries Agricultural Show and Gower Show

Phew! We made it! This weekend was one of the hardest we had lined up for the whole season, as it involved driving over 800 miles! So, on Friday morning Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker and Alex set off for Dumfries, Scotland. We'd been driving for about two and a half hours when all of a sudden BANG! We'd had another blow out. We'd only just had one the previous week on our way to the CLA Gamefair, but now we still had 180 miles to go - too far to ride the horses this time!

Having rung the road rescue people again (we're now practically on first name terms with them!) we managed to limp off at the next junction and find a place to park, unloaded the horses and waited. Not for long though! Becca barely had time to clean Ronan up (who had managed to make an incredible mess of himself - his best yet!) before the lovely tyre man, Scott, came and sorted us out. We were back on the road again within an hour of the blow out - a new record for us!

So we trucked on and finally arrived at Dumfries, eight hours after we set off! Having set up we went to investigate our arena, and couldn't believe the size of it! It was easily the biggest we have ever come across, even larger that the one at Oswestry last year - and we'd thought that was huge! Thankfully, the organisers agreed to rope off one third of it for our performance - but it was still quite large! Saturday morning dawned wet and miserable, and we were convinced we were going to get absolutely soaking during the two duo shows. However, it wasn't as bad as we'd anticipated, we managed to only have a couple of showers during our performances - and we learnt we can roman ride in the rain! Although there was lots of other things going on at the show we didn't really get time to look around, as we were too busy trying to get everything ready for a rapid departure after our second show. But we did see some amazing heavy horse driving pairs and teams - the sun shone for them too and they looked absolutely beautiful, really impressive!

We managed a quick getaway and were on the road for the 380 miles down to Gower. Thankfully the trip was mostly motorway, the journey passed without incident, and we arrived on site at about 2.30am, nine hours of journey time behind us. However, that was when our troubles started. They had had nothing but rain for the past fortnight and the ground was too soft for us to drive onto our pitch. After trying various different approaches for a while (and nearly burning our clutch out in the process!) we realised the only option was to go and wake the tractor man so he could tow us on. So there we were, at 3am in the morning, having the lorry towed backwards onto our pitch. Have a look at the video below to see our stylish arrival at the Gower Show!

Having finally stopped in the right place it was time to set up, but despite appearances to the contrary the ground was actually really hard - those stakes took a lot of knocking in! Thankfully it wasn't raining, and the sky was just beautiful - I can't remember the last time I saw so many stars! At last we'd set up and settled the horses and it was time for bed - 4.30am and not a moment too soon.

Luckily our first show wasn't until 12 noon, so we had a bit of time to recover in the morning. One of the first people to come and see us was the tractor man from the middle of the night, turns out he was actually the show director - oops!! He (John) was lovely though - and promised to come and tow us back out at the end of the day! We weren't the only ones with problems with the ground though. The Rockwood Dog Display team's lorry got stuck up the slope to it's pitch, as did the tractor towing it, as did the second tractor also towing it! In the end they decided to leave it at the bottom of the slope, so then had to tow it backwards, but also keep a tractor on the front to keep it straight - it looked like a giant tractor tug of war!

The weather was glorious and both our solo shows went really well. Tinker and Ronan were both very tired, but tried their hearts out during the shows and both did brilliantly. We really are so so lucky to both have such incredible horses. We love you boys! Unfortunately we only managed to get photos of the second solo show (thankyou Claire for taking so many!), but you can see them and others from the weekend by clicking here. Having been towed off the site, we travelled the 150 mile journey home, arriving back after four hours.

So there you have it - three days, 800 miles, three countries, two shows, four performances, twenty-one hours driving and one very tired Jive Pony team! We've got today off but then tomorrow we're off up to Thornton le Dale (only 190 miles away - easy!) for a one day duo show on Wednesday. I'll let you know how we got on later in the week!

Love Rosie xx

Monday, 27 July 2009

CLA Gamefair

We've just had an absolutely fantastic weekend at the CLA Gamefair, a show that we always look forward to and love being part of. However, not everything went smoothly! Rebecca, Ronan, Myself, Tinker, Alex and Rachel set off on Thursday for Belvoir Castle, with Tim due to meet us there. We had almost reached the site (we could see the castle) when BANG! We had a blow out on the lorry! Alex took one of the bikes on a reconnaissance mission and reported back that we were only a few miles away, so having rung the road rescue people (they know us quite well by now!) Rebecca and I decided the best course of action was to ride the horses the rest of the way.

So we set off, bareback, leaving the stranded lorry behind us! Although we had directions from Alex we had only gone a hundred yards or so when I spotted a bridleway signposted Belvoir. Do we take a risk and hope it's a shortcut, or do we follow the road the way we've been told? We decided on the bridleway, and it was gorgeous! We ended up riding through some beautiful woods, open fields and farm tracks before rejoining the road - and the gamefair traffic! Riding along the road we spotted a helicopter, which decided to start up and take off just as we were going past - good job the boys had had helicopter training last weekend at the Chilterns Show, they weren't fazed at all! We finally arrived at the site in true style, as you can see from the video below!

But then we had to try and find out where to go! By following our little site map and asking stewards we finally found the stables, put the horses in a couple of empty ones, and then tried to find a lift back to the lorry. Luckily the first people we saw were lovely Robin Gee and Willowe, who always look after us at the gamefair, and Robin became our knight in fluorescent armour and offered us a lift. Unfortunately, because we'd taken the bridleway we weren't too sure whereabouts the lorry was in relation to the roads! Thankfully Robin knew the area well and having described where we had stopped we soon found it - and it turned out our shortcut had cut off a good two miles of road - brilliant!

We arrived back at the lorry just as the tyre man was starting work, and a few minutes later - new tyre!! The old tyre had a massive hole in it, explaining why it had sounded like a small explosion when it blew! Olly the tyre man was brilliant, he got us back on the road (with air in our other tyres too) really quickly, so huge thanks to him! So it was back to the site for a second time, but this time we knew the way! We managed to set up in record time, with the boys and Rachel putting the tent and stables up whilst Rebecca and I marked the arenas out - and all before it got dark! Due to all the drama we were exhausted by the time we got to bed - and we had ten shows to do over the next three days!

Friday was our busiest day, with the duo show in the main arena in the morning, then the two solo shows one after another in the mini ring in the afternoon, and then a parade in the main arena in the evening - it was non-stop all day! Everything went really well and although we were tired we ended up spending much of the night at the Dubarry party - something I regretted the following morning! Saturday was a gorgeous day, and once again all our shows went really well. As we were waiting to go into the main arena for the duo show in the morning the main commentator for the show, John Lamb, started telling the crowds all about Jive Pony. Nothing unusual there. But then he told them about the website, and then about my blog! I was gobsmacked and delighted! John went on to say how he never misses it and keeps up to date with all our antics every week! So a special hello to John and thankyou!

Saturday evening was lovely and warm, and as we were enjoying sitting outside eating our supper (head chef Tim excelled himself again) a series of hot air balloons took off from the grounds and flew overhead. The evening was really idyllic and bought home to us how lucky we are to live the life that we do. The horses were grazing nearby, all around us people were laughing and having a good time and the sun was shining - who could ask for more!

Sunday came around all too quickly and, having done three more shows, before we knew it it was time to pack up and go home! Unfortunately Rebecca and I were too busy throughout the days to have a look around the show, but Tim and Alex managed to go for a bit of a wander - and took the camera with them! Have a look at all their photos and loads of others from the weekend by clicking here. Our good weather luck also held and over the whole weekend, which was forecast to be VERY rainy, we only got slightly rained on a couple of times, and never very much. The same couldn't be said for our old friends Doug and Ella, who got caught out in an enormous thunderstorm during one of their displays, and got completely soaked through!

All in all we had a brilliant weekend. Not only were we visited by lots of lovely friends but we caught up with many people we haven't seen in ages. Special thankyous to the wonderful Robin Mackenzie, who always looks after us so well, Robin Gee and Willowe, Darby and Matilda, and John and Mark, plus anyone else I've forgotten - THANKYOU! (And hope to see you soon!) Also a big thankyou to anyone who watched one of our shows, as all our audiences were fantastic. Never have we heard a crowd roar as much as they did on Saturday morning during the roman riding in the duo show. We saw so many people doing the 'Greased Lightning' arms along with us it was amazing - and a sight I won't forget in a while!

We've got another monster of a weekend coming up. We up to Dumfries (275 miles) on Friday for a duo show on Saturday, then driving down to Gower (380 miles) overnight for a solo show on Sunday, before driving home (147 miles). That's 802 miles altogether (!!!) so fingers crossed we don't have any more blow outs and all of us and the lorry survive! I'll let you know how it goes...

Love Rosie xx