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

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