Tuesday, 27 July 2010

CLA Game Fair

We had a fantastic weekend at the Game Fair, but we definitely worked hard over the three days with three duo shows, six solo shows and a parade - phew! Becca, Ronan, Tinker and I set off on Thursday for Ragley Hall, a nice easy drive of only twenty-five miles. Alex was going to meet us there, and Tim and Rachael were due in the morning, so there was going to be plenty of us! As soon as we arrived on site we turned the boys out into a nearby small arena whilst we waited to be sited before setting the tent and stables up. We’d nearly finished our set up when we were approached by a very officious steward (with a golf buggy and walkie talkie no less!) and told that we needed to move our horses ‘within three minutes’! So we leisurely finished what we were doing before wandering up to collect our horses, who both had the audacity to be quietly grazing! Luckily we'd been sited right next to an area which had been fenced off with 'Danger - Overhead Power Lines - DO NOT ENTER' signs, which made an ideal turn out paddock for the boys over the whole weekend!!

Friday was fairly hectic as we had a duo show in the main arena at 12.30pm, followed by Tinker’s solo show in the smaller hooked on horses arena at 2.05pm, then Ronan’s solo at 4.30pm and finally a parade and demo with Tinker in the main arena at 6pm – busy busy busy! All the shows went really well – although not completely flawless! For our very first show of the 2010 CLA Game Fair in the main arena we went in waving and smiling before I came to introduce the show – only my mic wouldn’t work! There followed an embarrassing few seconds of confusion before my mic was whisked away to be sorted out. Next thing I know I have both Tim and Alex racing towards me (both with a hilarious comedy run!) and both thrusting mics at me – so I went from no mic to two in the space of a few seconds, not the best start! The show then went really well until the roman riding section, where Tinker set off like a speeding bullet with Ronan doing his best to keep up. The start was very dicey but about half way through Ronan’s anchor kicked in and they both slowed to a much more manageable pace. Things went well again until the final part of the show when Tinker definitely engaged his turbo boost! I don’t think he physically could have gone any faster, he was flat out galloping with me hanging on as best I could doing my nice safe moves (including a shoulderhang though!!). I secretly love it when he goes fast – but not quite as much as he does! Both the solo shows and the evening parade went smoothly, but by the time the day was over we were absolutely exhausted, and I’m afraid to say Becca and I were in bed by about 9pm, and asleep not long after!

Saturday was a bit steadier as we had slightly longer between the duo show and the first solo, as well as there being no evening parade. We were very lucky in the morning as Katherin (Becca’s Mum) came over and gave both Becca and I, and the horses, a shiatsu treatment – which really helped all our achy bodies! All the shows went really well and we had an especially fantastic crowd in the grandstand of the main arena for the duo show. It gave us a real buzz as we whizzed past during the roman riding (not at quite such a speed as on Friday thankfully!) and saw everyone joining in with the ‘Greased Lightning’ arms! As we weren’t so tired in the evening Becca and I decided to go for a wander down to one of the main bars, and ended up sharing a jug of Pimms’ in the company of Chris Green and all the other BASC guys! We had a lovely evening chatting to them all, but it was way past our show day bed time by the time we eventually went to bed!

Sunday was our final day – and it seemed the day for everyone we knew to come and see us! Whilst waiting in the collecting area before going in for the duo show I saw at least thirteen people who’d come up to the main arena specially to see us. Although we love a big audience it makes you feel far more nervous than usual when there are people you know watching! Thankfully the show went without a hitch, and everyone was very complimentary afterwards! Both our solo shows went well too, and before we knew it we were packing up to come home! All in all we had a fantastic weekend, the weather was beautiful, our horses and glamourous assistants were brilliant, and the crowds were fantastic - so thank you if you were there cheering us on! We saw too many people to mention, but special hellos go to Paul and Sean, our most enthusiastic fans, Riva, our smallest fan, Stuart, an avid blog follower, Mike, who always brings Tink and Ronan treats, and of course the two Robins and Willow who always look after us so well - THANK YOU!! (And apologies to anyone else I've forgotten!) I must also make a special thank you to Justin from Hornets Hats, who not only sponsors Becca and I our gorgeous Top Hats, but this year has also sponsored the boys their fantastic Bowlers, which they are both over the moon with!

We've a busy day tomorrow as we're off down to Quainton Stud to teach at a Pony Club camp. We're going to be taking Navvy and Casper as it's high time they contributed to the whole earning effort! I'll let you know how we got on soon, but in the mean time you can see loads of photos from our time at the CLA here.

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Todenham Village Fete

We had a lovely afternoon on Saturday at our local village fete in Todenham, although it didn't quite go according to plan! We had initially thought we'd use the fete as a debut for Navvy and Casper, it being nice and local (we could hack there in ten minutes) as well as fairly small. However, Becca and I went up for a site visit on Saturday morning which unfortunately made us change our minds. As per last weekend at Kingham Commotion there was no arena, just our ring set up, meaning that the audience would all be very close. There were also marquees very close to two sides of the arena, and rattly gazebos with fluttering bunting on a third. We were still umming and ahhing about whether to use the babies or not when the organiser came over and said 'Is it OK girls? We're going to have the bouncy castle here...' whilst pointing at the only open side of the square! This made our minds up and we decided the show was going to have to be done by the old faithful - Ronan.

After Becca had bathed Ronan I put a crest plait down his mane with red ribbon threaded through - he looked like a real princess! Him and Becca (in full costume and make up) then set off across the fields for the fete, looking a bit over dressed for a hack! Having arrived on site we were relieved to see we'd made the right decision by not bringing Casper and Navvy. The circle we had to work in was too enclosed and intense, there were people packed in tightly all around the ring, and it just would have been too much for them. Even Ronan played up, which is unheard of! Whilst Tim was doing his little kazoo strip routine Ronan stood in the middle, bucked and farted and then set off at a trot around the ring in the wrong direction! Very bizarre! Having got that out of his system he did the rest of the show well, despite the arena being fairly uneven. The whole show went well without any mishaps, the crowd was really responsive and obviously loved it. It's quite strange performing in front of so many people we know, but it definitely went down well! Katherin (Becca's mum) was our photographer for the day - have a look at her handiwork here.

We're off to the CLA Gamefair on Thursday for a three day show. We love this show, but it's hard work! We do one duo show plus two solo shows a day, as well as a parade on Friday evening - phew! I just hope our arrival on site goes smoother than it did last year! I'll tell you all about it when we get back.

Love Rosie xx

Friday, 16 July 2010

Kingham Commotion and Northcote Heavy Horse Centre Vaulting Training Day

We had a busy weekend last weekend with two very long but very fun and useful days. Saturday morning started bright and early as usual with our vaulting group. Our girls are all really coming on now and I will write a post dedicated to them just as soon as everything else settles down! Having arrived back it was time to bath Tinker, Casper and Navvy and head off to Kingham for the local Commotion Festival. We'd rushed about getting everything done and ready, got there in record time (with me doing show makeup in the back of the wagon on the journey!), I'd tacked up Tink and warmed him up, and was just getting changed when we were told they'd changed the timetable and we weren't on for another hour and a quarter! So, tack and costume off - find food and eat! Show time soon came around though and having repeated the earlier processes again we were ready to go. We were only performing once so we'd chosen to do the second solo show, with Becca doing all the commentary as her ankle was still too painful to vault on (unfortunately Navvy had tripped over whilst being ridden the previous week landing on her - luckily nothing broken though!). There wasn't an arena for us to work in so we just set up our circle and used that, although it did mean people were in very close proximity to us - despite telling everyone to keep back they were soon practically on top of the ring rope! Tinker was fantastic though and just put himself on a slightly smaller circle - so everyone's toes were safe! The show went really well, and the crowd was huge - I think everyone at the festival came down to see what was going on!

Having done the show it was now time for pony rides. We'd decided to use Casper and Navvy for this, to try and ease them into a show situation. However, getting them into the designated area was far from easy! We had to walk through a barrier with fluttery decorations right next to the main stage with banks of speakers and very loud music, before leading them through a wood which was like a giant art installation, with hanging mirrors, statues, sculptures and paintings - and all surrounded by a lot of people! It was like the ultimate handy pony class! Both of them coped amazingly well - there's nothing like throwing them in at the deep end! We then proceeded to put child after child after child up on them and lead them backwards and forwards through the wood, something which they did remarkably well! It was a brilliant training exercise for them both which will hopefully stand us in good stead for tomorrow - more on that later!

Sunday came and it was another early start for a three hour drive up to Spilsby in Lincolnshire and the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre. We were there for the day to teach and were going to use their horses, so at least all our boys could have the day off! We had a mixed group, some complete beginners and some who had been vaulting a while. We played loads of warm up games putting them all through their paces before moving onto the barrel - and then the giant horses! The horses we were using were Samson, an 18.2hh Shire and Bosun, a 17.2hh Percheron. Not small! Unfortunately neither of the horses work in canter, but we still managed to give everyone a good workout in walk. We had a fantastic day and the weather was just beautiful - so much so that both Becca and I managed to get a real farmer's tan from our vest tops! Everyone vaulted really well, especially the five girls who had never tried it before. They seemed to take to it like ducks to water and despite some initial misgivings I had them all doing split leg dismounts, roll around the handle, leap frog off and australian dismounts before the end of the day - only on the barrel though, the horses were a bit too big! The team vaulters all did really well too, with Becca working on their freestyles with them, improving current moves as well as adding some new ones in. Special thanks must go to Terena and Maria who organised the whole day - and fingers crossed we'll be going back one day, possibly with Tinker and Ronan (or Casper and Navvy!)!

Speaking of Casper and Navvy, it's their debut tomorrow. We're doing a little show at our local village fete, and are planning on using both the babies to perform the second solo show. Becca and Navvy are going to be doing the vaulting parts whilst Casper and I do the dancing. We're really hoping that the weather is nice, the crowds not too scary and that the boys behave - not much to wish for then! I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can look at all the photos from last weekend by clicking here (plus lots of extra ones from Sunday here).

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ware Carnival

We had a lovely day at Ware Carnival yesterday, although when we arrived on Friday night we'd never have guessed it! Tim, Alex, Tinker, Casper and myself set off on Friday evening - without Becca! We were later leaving than originally planned as Tim had been working at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (his 'normal' job is working with vintage Buggatti racing cars), and having been held up there due to a crash had had to beast his little car back to Oxfordshire - apparently imitating much of the driving he'd been watching all day! All this meant that by the time we reached Ware it was about 9pm, and as we pulled up alongside the playing fields where the show was to be held the following day we were greeted with a rather unnerving sight - a police officer leading a young man down the road in handcuffs! What kind of place was this we wondered!!

Our first hurdle was manouvering our lorry into the playing fields. Easier said than done! Having squeezed through one gate I then had to turn and reverse through another, even smaller, gateway. I managed it without too much shuffling, but there's one hedge in Ware that looks slightly different to how it did last week! We managed to set up without any further problems and went to bed wondering what tomorrow would bring.

Saturday dawned hot and sunny, and before long the show ground began to take shape. The show wasn't due to open until 2pm, so we had plenty of time to sort everything out. As soon as they'd set up the arena I took Casper out to have a training session with him. Casper has never been to a show before, so I took the opportunity to bring him along - and I'm so glad I did! We did quite a bit of work in the arena with everybody setting stalls up and busying around, and none of it bothered him at all. He was a bit clingy in the direction of our tent and called for Tinker a few times, but did everything I asked him without fuss. We did a lot of walk vaulting, and a bit of canter. I would have done more canter but the ground was very hard and the circle quite small so didn't want to push him. I also ran through his full dance routine with him which he performed perfectly! This was especially pleasing as he is due to dance in public at our local village fete in a couple of weeks and I really don't want to be embarrassed by him!

To warm Tinker up before the first show I took him for a lovely long ride through the town, over the bridge on the canal past the lock, along the tow path through the trees and past all the decorated narrow boats, before crossing another bridge and arriving back in the car park next to the show field. However, I couldn't get back into the show field as the main carnival parade was just about to start coming past and the pavements were lined with people! Having explained why I couldn't turn around and ride all the way back to an official I was allowed through the people before joining the parade between the majorettes and the first float! I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, but it's not easy on a 16.1hh coloured horse! I only had to go about five metres before ducking back through the people and into the show field, but we still got a ripple of applause! It wouldn't have been too bad if I was in costume, but unfortunately I was bare foot in just shorts and a vest top - oops!!

As soon as the parade arrived into the show field it was time for our show - and Tim's commentating debut! He did really well, despite the radio mic being a bit intermittent, and took us through the show with only a couple of stumbles. The crowd we had was absolutely huge - I think practically every single resident of Ware was there! Tinker was fabulous, and loads of people came back with us after the show to have their photo taken with him - he even pricked his ears for some of them! The second show came around quite quickly, and although Tim seemed cool, calm and collected he's since admitted he was absolutely bricking it! He needn't have been though, his commentary was much smoother throughout the second show with only a few prompts needed from me! Alex did the volunteer part of the show really well, having only had one brief practice on Tink at the Three Counties Show, and I managed to stay on until I was supposed to fall off, unlike last week!

After the second show we went for a wander around the rest of the festival site (on a hunt for an ice cream van!), and there was loads going on. There were about eighty stalls all together, as well as fairground rides, the decorated narrow boats and all sorts. It was a really lovely festival and we had a fantastic time there - which just goes to show that first impressions aren't always correct! We were really well looked after throughout the day by Ros, but especially by Shirley. It wasn't until later in the day when we were chatting to Shirley's husband Stuart that we found out Shirley used to be on the British Women's Basketball Team and has represented Britain in international tournaments numerous times! We were very impressed, and then found out that Stuart himself has competed in the Olympics - what a pair! Stuart now commentates for a lot of sporting events for the BBC, at which point Tim was keen to get some advice on commentating techniques!

Before we knew it it was time to pack down, and whilst we did so I turned my boys out into little makeshift pens were the arena had been. This was mainly for Casper's benefit as I wanted him out and about as much as possible. He was really good as there was still lots of flappy red and white tape strung about, stall holders tidying up, a big bunch of white balloons and endless people fussing over him. He took it all in like an old pro, and spent most of the time wandering between different people to see where he could get the most attention! Having wriggled the lorry back out of the playing fields (sorry hedge!) we trucked on home without incident. All in all we had a lovely day, even after the dodgy start on Friday night! The shows both went really well with Tink being fantastic, Tim coped brilliantly with his new role (and actually quite enjoyed it I think!), Casper had a lovely first show experience, and Alex was his usual glamourous self! There are quite a few photos from the day, just click here to see them all. You can also see the Town Council's official photo galleries from the entire day by clicking here and here - and see just how much was going on!

We've got a very local show on Saturday, at the Kingham Commotion, so I'm sure they'll be lots of familiar faces in the audience! I'll tell you all about it next week.

Love Rosie xx