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

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