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


Chris said...

Well - I think it was clearly fixed!!

Don't worry about the judges - they wouldn't know a "Flare" from a "Mill".


Rosie said...

Or a vaulter from a trick rider!

Hey ho.... one day....

Katie said...

Your display at H Factor was stunning

I'm part of the 'El Diva' team and we were all gobsmacked when you guys didn't get through to the final. We'd have put money on it!

Rosie said...

Thankyou Katie!

I suppose we just have to put it down to experience. We had a fantastic day anyway, so it's not all bad!