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


Helen said...

Hello Rosie. Thank you SO much for taking the time to meet me and bringing the lovely posters to the show. It was so good to meet you and so kind of you.

Meeting you lit up my day and, I'm sure, everyone else's week at the show. If having your company annoyed anyone then there must be something wrong with them!!!

I find it's easy to feel a little lonely and a bit lost in big, crowded places, so find it very reassuring to be around people I admire. I think most people feel like that and everyone must admire you. Not many people combine beauty, grace and talent with modesty and a kind, sweet nature.

The Devil's Horsemen were the best thing there as far as I was concerned and you were amazing!!! How did you manage to pull up without falling off on the other side of the entrance to the hall, you were going so fast?

I have taught my Dales to do sliding stops on cue without reins, so that could prove to be a bit of a mistake if I ever get as far as cantering standing on their backs! I have to brace myself when I'm sitting in the saddle!!!!

Thank you so much again and good luck with the clinics.

Love from Helen

Rosie said...

Hi Helen,

It was good to finally meet you, and I hope your friend Peter liked his poster!

Much as I hate to shatter your illusions, I actually have a special standing saddle which allows you to stand up there quite securely, even when braking at speed. I could do the standing with just my roller but I'm not sure I'd feel so safe, especially when Cuthbert was going so fast!

I've seen your videos of Bella's sliding stops - she certainly knows her stuff and looks like she enjoys it too!

In final preparation mode for the clinic on Saturday, I've planned everything as much as I can - I just need the sun to shine!

Glad you had a good day at the NEC, and well done for the driving!

Rosie x

Helen said...

Peter LOVED his poster! Thank you SO much!!!

I've got a bet running with my farrier, who shoes for Steve Dent's team, that I can't clicker train Bella to lie down completely voluntarily before he next comes. He was saying how fantastic the Spanish Walk was in the 30 Spanish horses they brought over for filming Robin Hood, so I showed him Bella's at liberty just mirroring me without a whip in sight, then her full floor bow at liberty. He wouldn't put money on my not being able to train her to lie down in the time scale after that!!!!

Good luck with your clinic and hope the sun shines for you. I still want to learn how to vault on while running alongside at a trot and canter. Wish you were closer but maybe one day I'll find the time!!!!

Rosie said...

Hi Helen,

I'm just about to write up my clinic on the blog, but it went really well! So well that I'm already planning the next one!

I do have quite a bit of spare time at the moment so I could always come down to yours for a day and teach you some basic vaulting if you'd like - I'll email you properly about it.

Kate looks fantastic - I always have a soft spot for a pretty coloured... And don't worry about spending too much, nothing is too much if it's for the right one!