Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Broughton Game Show

We spent last weekend up in Yorkshire, for a one day solo show at Broughton Game Show. Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and myself made the four hour trip up on Saturday afternoon with no problems at all. When we arrived on site the first thing we noticed was the arena, which was on a huge slope. On closer inspection it turned out that not only was it very steep, but also extremely uneven - not conducive to good vaulting! We joked about it to David, the organiser, who just said 'Well Girls, it'll be a challenge!'. He wasn't wrong!

We hadn't long been set up when Ben (my boyfriend) arrived, along with Stanley, his four week old Goshawk. Stanley is just starting to be quite mobile and spent a lot of the evening whizzing up and down the ramp of the lorry, before attacking rolled up tail bandages and travelling boots - much to our amusement!

Before we knew it it was Sunday - showtime! In preparation for this weekend coming, Becca and I were swapping shows - for the first time ever! In we went for the first show, in the blazing midday sun. The crowd was huge, but as I tried to welcome them and introduce the show I realised my mic wasn't working! After some confusion with batteries I got handed a head mic. This worked well but it meant I couldn't give Ronan any vocal encouragement to make it up the slope - and he definitely needed it! Unfortunately Ronan didn't cope with the arena and was being quite difficult, but Becca did amazingly well to vault on him and pulled of all the moves regardless! It felt quite strange just commentating and not vaulting, but it'll make up for next week when I'll be just vaulting and not commentating at all!

Next it was my turn for the second show. Whilst warming Tinker up there was a display by an acrobatic plane. Some of the moves he was doing were amazing - loop the loops, corkscrews, and all sorts! Luckily Tink doesn't mind anything like this - we had the Red Arrows flying over us at Eye Show last year! I was a bit nervous going into the show as I'd never done 'the full strip on the back of a cantering horse' in front of an audience before! I fumbled a little bit, and took a bit too long to get the final piece of the frou-frou skirt off, but managed it in the end! Tinker coped with the arena slope really well, and properly looked after me throughout. He also didn't mind the volunteer bit which he's only done once before, although I managed to fall off slightly earlier than expected! At the end of the show it was Becca's turn to vault on him, which she was slightly apprehensive about as he's so different to Ronan. No bother though, Tink cantered well and Becca vaulted really well! I was spying from the toilet tent and trying to take photos of her vaulting - so much so that I nearly missed my cue to come back out and get back on!

After the shows we were offered a go on the Rodeo Bull which was set up next to us. We'd been eyeing it up all day watching people fall off (some in spectacular fashion!), so were really glad to get a go! The last time we did something like this was at the Mid Suffolk Show last April, where Becca, myself, Alex and Simon rode a rodeo pig! This time I was up first, and managed to fall off fairly promptly! Becca followed and stayed on for about five seconds longer, before doing an amazing somersault right over the bull's head! Finally it was Tim's turn, whose time was somewhere in between ours - not bad for a funny man! Have a look at the little video below to see our attempts! We also managed to get a few photos from the rest of the weekend, just click here to have a look at them.

Next weekend we're off to Ware Town Carnival for a one day solo show on Saturday. However - Becca isn't coming!! Eeeek!! I'm going to be doing both shows on Tinker, with Tim commentating and Alex being our glamourous assistant. This is quite a big change for us so fingers (and hooves!) crossed it will all go to plan! I'm also going to take Casper along, just so he gets to see a bit of show atmosphere and experience the whole thing without any pressure to perform. I'll let you know how we get on next week!

Rosie xxx

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The Three Counties Show

We've just had a fantastic long weekend at the Three Counties Show, one of our very favourite shows of the year. Thursday afternoon and Rebecca, Ronan, Tinker and myself set off in the lorry for Malvern, with Bryn (Becca's boyfriend) following behind in his classic red fire truck (aptly christened 'the clown bus'!), and Tim due to meet us on site. As Alex is now busy being an apprentice farrier over in Wales he wasn't going to be able to join us until Friday night, which meant Bryn was being thrown in at the deep end to glamourously assist us!

On arrival the first thing we did was to turn the boys out into the collecting ring, right next to the arena where Doug had turned out his two mares Ella and Diamond. Despite the fact that Ella is twenty-two years old, and Diamond is thirty-six, Tinker (who has just celebrated his eighth birthday!) spent the entire evening flirting outrageously with the pair of them, and having his amourous feelings enthusiastically reciprocated! The romance lasted all weekend with both the girls and Tink whinnying for each other whenever they were taken out of sight of one another!

Friday came around quickly and it was soon time for Bryn's debut! As he is (among other things!) a commentator by trade, Becca had decided he was going to do some mic work. So for the first time we had a full introduction - '...they've made it all the way over Fish Hill to be here... They're the ninth wonder of the Cotswolds....Ladies and Gentlemen - JIVE PONY!!' All credit to Bryn though, being a glamourous assistant is no easy task, but he took to it like a duck to water! Now we have another boy in our clown cupboard - I think that's five now... Alex arrived in the evening and we bade farewell to Bryn and the clown bus - although I'm sure they'll return before too long!

In between the shows on Saturday we rushed up to the main arena to see the King's Troop perform. They certainly filled the arena - they had six World War One gun carriages, each pulled by a team of six horses, plus another thirty-four ridden horses. That's seventy horses all together!! They did a beautifully choreographed high speed display to music, before setting all the guns off. The guns were so loud, wherever we were on the site throughout the weekend you could literally feel the ground shake! I managed to get a little video of some of their ride, have a look below.

Saturday also found both Tim and Alex, followed by Becca and I, volunteering to take part in the Adams Axemen display. This involved sawing through a fifteen inch log with a cross-cut saw, something which the axemen can do in a record time of 9.7 seconds! Needless to say it took us quite a bit longer! The boys were actually quite good at it, whereas it took Becca and I a good few minutes! And it really really makes your arms ache! It was good fun though, and the crowd cheered us on - no doubt helped by the fact that we were both still in costume!

On Sunday the main arena had harness racing, where the horses perform a special gait called pacing. Although it's only a two beat gait those horses can seriously shift! There was a super fast grey, who despite being quite heavily handicapped still managed to overtake everything else on the outside of the bends and go on to win! Have a look at the video below to see how fast he was!

All in all we had a fantastic weekend, and between us we managed to get quite a few photos - just click here to have a look at them. All of our shows went well without a single hitch, Tinker and Ronan were their usual fantastic selves, we are so so lucky to have them! The sun shone and the crowds were brilliant for every single show - about seven or eight deep around the arena sometimes! Quite a few people came to see us over the course of the weekend, including one of our girls from our vaulting group, Felicity. Hopefully she was paying attention as the reason we're teaching them all is so that we can retire one day! It was lovely to see some old friends again, as well as making some new ones - shows are never short of interesting people! Special thanks must go, as always, to Robin McKenzie, Robin Gee and Willowe, who always look after us so well, and who we're looking forward to seeing again at the CLA Gamefair next month!

We're off up to Yorkshire on Saturday, for a one day solo show at Broughton Game Show on Sunday. We're swapping our shows around with Becca and Ronan doing the first show, and Tinker and I trying our hand at the second show. We've never done it like this before, and lets just say today's rehearsal was interesting!! I'll let you know how we got on soon...

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Circus Workshop

We've just spent the day at the circus! Becca, Ronan, Navvy, Casper and I set off this morning for Broadway, to run a circus skills workshop for some local school children on behalf of Gifford's Circus. The day went brilliantly well, aside from the fact that I'm writing this with my foot wrapped in ice - more on that later! Having arrived we took all the horses into the ring to show them what it was all about, and whilst Becca and Ronan were in there Nell bought one of her twins, five month old Cecil, in to see what was going on. He'd never been on a horse before but after only a few minutes he was standing up on Ronan's back - nothing like starting them young!

The idea was to use Casper and Navvy to demonstrate some tricks and the methods we use to train them, then run through some basics with the children on the barrel, before getting them on Ronan to have a little go themselves, then finally showing them some canter work. And that's almost exactly what we did! For the first group, Casper and I started off by showing them some tricks. Casper did really well - he worked in the ring inside the tent, with the children clapping him when he did a trick, and concentrated on me throughout. I was very pleased with him as the last time we tried performing in front of the public (at the Devil's Horsemen Christmas Pantomime) he didn't concentrate on me at all and did virtually nothing I asked him!

When Casper had finished I took him back and swapped him for Ronan, whist Becca led the ten children through some basic warm up and stretching. I then took each of them through some simple moves on the barrel before sending them to Becca who helped them have a go at everything on Ronan. The only problems we had we the fact that they were all wearing their school uniform. The poor girls, they had a much harder time than the boys - summer dresses are not ideal vaulting wear! Once everyone had had a go, it was time to go outside and show them some canter work. Just in time the second group arrived, so they were all able to watch as I did a bit of freestyle on Ronan. At the end I finished with a big flank off, and managed to land funnily on the hard ground. It hurt my foot a bit, but not too badly so we just carried on.

It was now time for the second group, and as Becca had Ronan out already she decided to use him for the trick training demo. I think she just wanted to do some more performing with Ronan in the ring - it was at the circus that they met and fell in love after all! Ronan did some lovely tricks as usual, and then it was my turn to lead the warm up - and that's exactly what it was! By this time it was about midday, and the tent had heated up quite a lot - I can't imagine how hot it must get performing a show in there all dressed up in costume and make up! We then followed the same pattern with me taking them through the basics on the barrel before Becca took them on the horse. The second group had a few members who were quite nervous of Ronan, but by the end of the session every single one had had a sit on him, with most going up to knees and doing a flare leg - brilliant! As they'd already seen the canter work we finished off with them all giving Ronan a treat and a big thank you pat - I'm not sure they wanted to leave at the end! Once all the children had left, we got Kelly and Niomi (who do a fantastic job in the Circus office) up on Ronan. Kelly is especially nervous of horses, but had managed to sit on Ronan at the last workshop we did, back in January. So this time we had her doing mill! There was one point when she was sitting backwards with no hands - we'll have her up in stand next time!

As Navvy hadn't yet been used Becca bought him in to the ring for some practice - shutting him in the dark chute on the way! He was very good and performed all his tricks well, making Becca proud. Both him and Casper behaved impeccably so they will definitely be at a show soon! We did manage to get quite a few pictures - just click here to see them. Before we knew it it was time to go home, so we said our goodbyes, loaded up and trundled home. However, by the time we got back my foot was hurting quite a lot, so I was hobbling around as we were unloading the boys. I took Tink out for a little ride, but couldn't even manage rising trot - and then had to drive all the way home in third gear because I couldn't press the clutch down!

We're off to the Three Counties Show tomorrow for a three day duo, and are all really looking forward to it. We love the Three Counties, it was Tinker's first ever show (as a four year old stallion!) back in 2007, but we haven't performed there since 2008. I only hope my foot recovers in time for the first show on Friday! I'll let you know how we get on!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Monday, 7 June 2010

Hearing Dogs Summer Fair

I can't believe it's been two months since my last post, but unfortunately that's how long it's been since our last show! However, this weekend we were finally back in action with a duo show at The Hearing Dogs Summer Fair in Princes Risborough. It was the first time we'd done a duo since the Midland Gamefair in September, so Rebecca and I were both feeling a bit rusty to say the least! Having done quite a bit of rehearsal on foot we decided we really ought to take the boys for some Roman Riding practice. We took them up to the big school up the road (huge thank yous to Marilyn and Graham!) and just went for it! Much to our relief they were absolutely foot perfect - and Becca and I weren't too bad either! Bryn (Becca's boyfriend) came up too and took some photos - more on those later! Having done a couple of sessions of Roman Riding, and trying out some new vaulting moves we felt ready for the show, although we did get some last minute props and costumes which we didn't get a chance to rehearse with...

So, Saturday afternoon came and Rebecca, Ronan, Tim, Alex, Tinker and myself set off for Princes Risborough. It was a lovely hot day and the drive down was uneventful. However, we'd literally just arrived at the showground and put the ramp down when the heavens opened and it absolutely poured with rain. Hoping it was a passing shower we left the boys on board (much to their bemusement!), and thankfully after about ten minutes it eased off enough for us to get on with setting up. We passed the evening by running through both shows, endless sewing (which I HATE!) and playing Aerobie until it was too dark to see it until it whizzed past your head! Soon enough it was time for bed, at which point Tim and Alex enquired as to where the base for their bed was. The seating in the lorry converts into a large bed which they normally share, but unfortunately the one and only thing that Becca had forgotten to pack was the necessary piece of wood to make the bed - oops! They ended up sleeping just on the cushions on the floor, but as there wasn't enough floor space for both of them Tim had to sleep in the back where the horses travel!

Soon enough it was showtime on Sunday, and Rebecca and I were feeling very nervous! We'd changed some costume and music since last year, and we were also hoping that we remembered our lines and cues in all the right places. The audience were really keen and were about six deep around the entire arena - no pressure then! We needn't have worried - the show went well! Becca had a really good show with Ronan performing really well throughout. I wasn't quite so lucky with Tinker, but through no fault of his own. As we went to our corner of the arena for our dance we were mobbed by strange flying beetles. They were bright red and about the size of my thumbnail, and drove poor Tink mad! I actually had to stop the dance about half way through and rake my hands through his mane - there were about fifteen of them all over his neck, mane and face - needless to say he wasn't really concentrating on his tricks! After that he just spent the rest of the show whizzing about - but I don't really mind, secretly I love it when he goes fast! The really strange thing about the beetles was that not a single one went near Becca and Ronan over the other side of the arena - very bizarre!

We didn't have much time between shows and before we knew it we were back on with our second performance. This time we had our new blue and black costume, which I'd already worn at Bexley Heath Easter Show, but which Becca had never worn. We had made some changes since Easter though - mainly four bright blue pom-poms each! We'd not tried them with the horses before but were fairly confident they wouldn't mind them - if they can ignore things like the Red Arrows and White Headed Vultures flying over them surely they wouldn't mind pom-poms? We were right not to worry about the horses - it was us who struggled with them! Try having two pom-poms in each hand, whilst steering a horse and then finding your microphone and talking! Eeek! We just about managed, although we're definitely going to have a rethink before the next show! I'd also drenched Tinker in fly spray to try and deter the beetles, as well as dancing in a different part of the arena, and didn't see a single one throughout the whole show - all very peculiar! It was Becca's turn to have an interesting show - when it came to the roman riding her vaulting shoes were too worn out to give her any grip on our nice new pad covers, so that whole section was a bit dicey! At least she managed to keep both shoes on this time though...

After our whirlwind of shows during the afternoon it was time to pack down and head home - but not before we'd learnt the sign language for 'Jive Pony'! There were some amazing signers throughout the day - and a special thank you to Tom who had the unenviable task of trying to sign our shows! All in all we had a lovely weekend, and were very well looked after by Ruth and the team. We managed to get a few pictures over the weekend (and also some from our rehearsals...), just click here to have a look.

We're off to Giffords Circus for a day next Wednesday! Rebecca has very strong ties with the circus as she performed with them for three seasons before leaving to set up Jive Pony, so is very much looking forward to getting back inside the big top! We're going to be taking Ronan, who started his career there as a four year old with Becca, and who hasn't seen the circus since we did the Newbury Parade back in 2008. We're also going to take Casper and Navvy - it'll be their first official Jive Pony outing! Fingers crossed they behave - I'll tell you all about it next week!

Lots of love,

Rosie xx