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