Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Circus Workshop, Frogham Fair and Uffington White Horse Show

Phew! We have had a busy week! On Wednesday Becca, Ronan, Tinker and I set off for Marlborough and Giffords Circus. Unlike our last visit, where we taught local school children, this time we were teaching the performers! Unfortunately it rained really heavily all day long, but that seemed to mean we had more people coming to have a go - nothing better to do on a wet Wednesday! Everybody took to it well, and it was really refreshing teaching people who are so aware of their bodies - some of them put Becca and I to shame on the flexibility front! Tinker also experienced a first - having his bottom somersaulted off! You can see it on the little video below - needless to say Tink won't have to get used to that happening!

Friday soon came around and Becca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and I set off for Frogham Fair, in the New Forest, where we were due to perform our solo shows. This is such a beautiful area, although it's not really the best terrain for eleven tonne horseboxes! There is one particular hill called Blissford Hill (otherwise known to us as Wheelie-barrow Hill, but more on that later...) which is an exceptionally steep 25%, and which took the lorry two attempts to climb! We also had to stop at one point earlier on and get out to move a baby donkey which was quite happily sunbathing right in the middle of the road, and didn't want to get up!

On Saturday morning Becca and I took the boys out for a ride, although I set off a bit later as I was enjoying my book and bed far too much!! I'd not been riding long when we met Becca and Ronan on their way home - and Ronan was plastered in mud! They'd managed to go off piste slightly and Ronan had fallen into a bog right up to his stifle. Becca had had a very frightening few seconds having to jump off Ronan before he managed to extricate himself - luckily with nothing more serious than a black leg! Thankfully there was a little lake on the way home so Becca promptly took off her boots and socks, waded in and gave Ronan a bit of a scrub up! The scenery around Frogham is just beautiful (I actually have photos up on my wall from our last trip there back in 2007), and both Tinker and I loved the ride, as you can see from the little video below.

We went through streams, over bridges, through woods, across open meadows and heather moorland, all the time passing by free roaming cattle, ponies and donkeys. It really was stunning. However, I managed to get completely lost! I was merrily heading back the way I thought was home, when thankfully I checked with a dog walker who promptly informed me I was going in totally the opposite direction - oops! Tinker and I did an abrupt about turn and finally made it back to the show field - but about thirty minutes later than planned!!

Both our shows went really well, with lovely crowds and plenty of sunshine. And then it was time for the wheelbarrow race! Just to explain - competitors have to race up the aforementioned Blissford Hill (25%) whilst pushing a wheelbarrow containing a straw stuffed dummy. No mean feat. Last time we were at Frogham Duncan entered the race and finished in second place, so this year it was Tim (On Fire)'s turn. We got to the hill in plenty of time to see all the other competitors racing and had an agonising wait until, finally, it was Tim's turn. As he was part of the Jive Pony contingent Tim was wearing his JP vest, red braces, red show socks, and the all important black bowler hat. He looked brilliant as he walked down to the bottom of the hill alongside his opponent. And then - they're off!! They were neck and neck to start with but as the hill got steeper Tim pulled away before before finishing in convincing style at a very impressive pace - he'd won his heat! And was top of the leader board! Now we just had to wait for a couple more races to see if his time was fast enough to stay in first place - it was!! Our very own Timothy Carter is the current Blissford Hill Wheelbarrow Challenge Champion! Not only did Tim win a medal, but also a sizeable cup and a bottle of bubbly rose - well worth the effort! Have a look at the video below to see Tim racing to victory!

Having left Frogham we drove up to Uffington for the White Horse Show where we were going to be performing our duo shows on Sunday and Monday. By the time we got there it was pitch black dark, but luckily Alex was on site to meet us and show us where to park the wagon. Having set up in record time we were tired things by the time we crawled into bed! Show time soon came around on Sunday and once again they both went really well. We managed to pull a big crowd who were very enthusiastic - and who helped out a lot by clapping a rhythm for us when the sound system failed and we had no music! It was exceptionally windy though, I have never ever struggled as much with Tinker's skipping rope! It was like a giant unwieldy kite, and I managed to wrap Tink's tail up a couple of times as a result - oops!

In between our shows Alex helped out with the racing pigs; having to wear a very becoming costume whilst chasing a group of pigs up a track and over hurdles! This was really funny until we realised that Alex would obviously then smell of pig, which Tinker absolutely hates. Despite Alex's best effort with the baby wipes Tink still regarded him very suspiciously for the rest of the day - including during our show!

We were all very excited during the day (some of us more than others...) about the performance taking place in the bar that evening. The boys went off down the road to the local beer festival, but with strict instructions to be back for 8pm. Becca and I whiled away the evening in anticipation, went to meet the Devils Horsemen crew in the bar - and then it was time. For Elvis!! And not just any old Elvis - the 2010 World Champion Elvis! He was really really good and in no time at all Becca and I were up dancing - the only ones in the whole marquee to do so! The boys came back from their beer festival after a while to join us, but slightly worse for wear - one exchange went like this:

Alex to me: Timothy's REALLY drunk...

Me to Tim: Timothy. Are you REALLY drunk?


Point proven I think. Not to be deterred Becca and I soon played catch up (over take and lap several times!), and we all spent most of the evening dancing away to Elvis. However, soon we were doing a bit more than just dancing. Elvis (otherwise known as Ben Portsmouth) got Becca and I up onto the stage and told us we were going to be singing with him! EEEKK! No amount of Jack Daniels is ever going to make me a good singer, especially when I realised I'd never even heard of the song let alone knew the words! Becca was in the same boat as me, but we somehow managed to get through it before escaping back to our table, hoping the embarrassment would ease off! It soon did and we were soon back on our feet (and a table - until it broke!) dancing away for the rest of the night! We all had a fantastic evening, so a big thank you to Ben for entertaining (and putting up with) us!

Needless to say the following morning was quite a difficult one. However, despite our trepidations both shows went fantastically well! The horses were absolutely superb, we had no music problems, the wind had eased so I could handle the skipping rope, the vaulting felt easy and the crowds were brilliant - hooray! Bryn (Becca's boyfriend) had come down to see us for the day and took some brilliant panoramic photos of the arena. Some look quite odd as we were obviously moving at speed when he took them so we appear twice each - four horse show anyone?! Thanks must also go to Gordon for taking huge amounts of photos during the two shows - really not sure about some of our facial expressions though! We really enjoyed Uffington Show, and they obviously enjoyed us - they booked us for next year before we'd even left the site!!

All in all we had a brilliant weekend, probably my favourite of the whole season. You can see the photos by clicking on the links below:

Circus Workshop

Frogham Fair

Uffington White Horse Show.

We're off to Wales on Friday for the Welsh Festival of the Horse where we'll be performing the duo shows on Saturday and Sunday - I'll let you know how we get on next week!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Camelford Show

It was over a week ago now but we had a lovely time down in Cornwall for the Camelford Show. We were there to perform our solo shows and drove the five hours down with no problems at all - until we tried getting onto the show field! As there had been so much rain the ground was very muddy, so the lorry got stuck in the gateway. This is the first time this has happened this year though so our luck isn't too bad! We unloaded the horses before the tractor came to pull us out, and from then on in everything went smoothly - well, almost!

Bryn (Becca's boyfriend) had followed us down in his car, which promptly managed to breakdown just after he'd arrived on site and parked next to us! Good old AA though soon had him sorted out the following day. We also arrived at the same time as Paul and Ollie (Cyril the Squirrel), who we'd only seen a few days earlier at the Wayland Show. Although we started our set up at the same time, they'd finished after about ten minutes whereas we take a little bit longer! As there was quite a few of us there we'd decided to have a barbeque. Bryn excelled himself on the shopping and cooking front, and we all sat down to a veritable feast whilst watching the sun set over the sea - idyllic! After a while some old friend's of Bryn's arrived for the evening, and joined us around the amazing washing machine drum fire. This is a fantastic idea which we pilfered from Jemma and David (Syers Shires), again at the Wayland Show.

Show time soon came around on Wednesday, and despite some very ominous black clouds the weather held for us. Tinker was brilliant for the first show, cantering beautifully so I didn't even have to think about him - I wish he was like that more often! Ronan also went well, although the end of the show didn't quite go to plan. Just before our show the Grand Parade had been through the arena, and quite a few of the cows had left pats dotted about. I'd managed to avoid them through the whole show, but as I was running out to Ronan to get on him I stood in a giant one! I didn't realise I'd done it until I was on Ronan, by which time it was far too late! Ronan had started the show beautifully white, but by the time I'd finished vaulting on him he had great big green smears all over him - oops! I then embarrassed myself further by finishing the show with 'Thank you ladies and gentlemen! My name's Rebecca! No it isn't - she's Rebecca - I'm Rosie!' Ooops again!! Never mind, a bit of humility is good for the soul. Apparently.

All in all we had a lovely day. We also saw some polocrosse, lots of fantastic vintage tractors, and some gorgeous heavy horses - just click here to see the photos. Although we've not got any shows until the bank holiday weekend (only four days away as I'm writing this now), we've been keeping busy. I performed at Dunster Show with the Devil's Horsemen on Friday (my first trick riding outing since the same show last year - I ached on Saturday!!). We also taught our usual group of girls for an open day at Durham's Farm, where newcomers were then invited to have a go. And tomorrow we're back to Giffords Circus to do yet more teaching (it's the performers this time, not schoolchildren, so they'll put Becca and I to shame on the flexibility front!). As for shows, we're off to Frogham Fair on Friday for solo shows on Saturday, followed by a drive up to the Uffington White Horse Show for duo shows on Sunday and Monday. Phew! I'll tell you how everything goes next week!

Lots of love

Monday, 9 August 2010

Blakesley Show

On Friday afternoon Becca, Ronan, Alex, Tinker and myself set off for the fairly local Blakesley Show, where we were due to perform our duo shows on the Saturday. The show was only about forty miles away, so we didn't think it'd take us that long to get there. However, the route was the wiggliest wooest way imaginable, which is not good when you're in an eleven tonne HGV! We finally got there though, and set up with no problems - only to be told that we weren't on until 2.30pm the following day, so we could have travelled down in the morning!

Whilst we were setting up we turned Tinker and Ronan out into the main arena so they could get used to it. We normally try and do this anyway, but it was especially important at Blakesley as the arena was on quite a slope, and it just helps them to get used to the area in which they have to work. When the time came to get them in for the evening there was the most beautiful sky imaginable, as you can see from the photos above. Even though the photos came out quite well, they still don't quite capture how vivid the colours were, and over the course of the evening the sky changed from oranges and reds through to pinks, blues and purples. Added to the fact that the showground was practically deserted the whole evening had an almost eerie feel to it!

We had a bit of a lazy morning (tack cleaning and boot sewing!), but show time soon came around - and just before it did the heavens opened! We were lucky in the end as it rained before we warmed the horses up, but stopped whilst we were working them, then rained whilst we were getting into costume, but stopped just before the show - phew! We don't like getting wet! Unfortunately though, the rain had made the ground super slippery, and although it didn't seem to effect the horses much the same can't be said for me! At the end of the first section of vaulting I did a lovely big flank off, only for my feet to slip straight out from underneath me when I landed and I ended up sitting down abruptly on my bottom! Not very elegant!! Apart from that one incident both shows went really well. The roman riding wasn't quite as smooth as it can be but considering we were working on a slippery slope it couldn't have gone much better!

There was a lot of showing going on throughout the day; everything from sheep and cattle through to horses and pigs, plus some steam engines, driving horses and a parade of hounds. Unfortunately we completely neglected to take any photos - sorry! We did see quite a few people we knew, including Alice and Ingrid, two of the little girls we'd taught at Quainton Stud pony club camp last Wednesday, who were especially enthusiastic with the applause throughout the show - so thank you!

It was soon time to pack down and come home - although we left Alex behind! This was intentional, we didn't just forget him! There was a big Young Farmers party planned for the evening and a few of his friends from college were there - so we left him to it! I'm assuming he survived the night, but neither Becca nor I have heard from him since...

We're off to Cornwall tomorrow, ready to perform our solo shows at Camelford Show on Wednesday. We have been to Camelford before but it was way back in 2007, and before Tinker was out and about doing shows! We're going to try and get down nice and early so we can take the horses to the beach and swim them in the sea - something I'm really looking forward to and which we've not done since Emsworth Show, again back in 2007!

I'll let you know how we get on and make sure we take lots of photos this time!

Lots of love
Rosie xx

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Wayland Show

We ventured into Norfolk for the very first time on Saturday for the Wayland Show, where we were due to perform our duo shows on the Sunday. Becca, Ronan, Tinker, Alex and myself arrived safe and sound, but when we unloaded the horses Becca had a very nasty surprise waiting for her. Ronan had managed to make the most disgusting mess of himself, and most definitely wasn't as white as he had been when he was loaded up! Having set up (and cleaned up in Becca's case) Alex and I marked out the arena, which was a good width but very long. We decided that as we were missing Tim we'd have a gap in the outer ring (instead of a gate) which would mean less running around for Alex. However, this was to prove a big mistake - more on that later...

When the time came for the first show on Sunday Becca and I helped Alex set up half the arena, before leaving him to finish it and dashing back to the tent to put our costume on, grab the horses and get back to the arena. We did this in record time, and were just about to go into the arena when Becca said 'Rosie - your trousers are on back to front!' EEEEEEEKK! They were!! I had no time to change them so just had to go in smiling and hoping they'd come off ok when it came to the strip! I felt (and looked!) such an idiot, but thankfully they came off without any problems, although it's not an experiment I plan to repeat any time soon! Aside from that, the first show went really well - although in such a long arena catching the horses back up in the roman riding section practically gave us both a heart attack!

The second show came around quickly but didn't go entirely smoothly. Ronan went off on the wrong leg for the roman riding and try as I might I couldn't get him to change! As Becca approached she pulled him back to a trot which pulled me and Tinker around and I very nearly fell off! Luckily it was just a little wobble, Ronan corrected himself, Becca got on and off we went again - TA DAH! The show then went fantastically well until the very final vaulting part. Tink and I had done one lap of the arena and were just approaching the gap for the second time. I was backwards on the neck and picked up the outside rein to try and guide him past the gap but I was slightly too late and he managed to duck inside the rope. This meant we were now in nomansland - not a good place to be! Tink then managed to confuse himself, and nearly ran into the inner ring rope. As his canter became uneven I got stuck on his neck as I was unable to let go - not very elegant! We then did a lap around the outside of the inner ring ('Hello Becca!') whilst I sorted myself out, before getting back onto the outside track and finishing the show! So although both shows had some dicey bits on the whole the both went well!

Aside from performing we had a lovely time at the show. There were lots of people there we knew including David and Jemma from Syers Shires, Paul from Cyril the Squirrel with his son Ollie, Bob Hogg with his dogs and ducks (and chickens!), and Richard from the Sheep Show. Having packed down on Sunday afternoon (thank you Paul and Ollie for the help!) we went across for a chat with David and Jemma, and their gorgeous puppy Alfie. Alex managed to wangle a little ride on Pie, one of their lovely Shires have a look at the video below to see him and Jemma in action!

We did manage to get some photos from the weekend, just click here to have a look at them. There are also loads and loads from the whole show on the Caston Camera Club website (we're in the trade stands and display teams section) - some of them are quite up close and personal!

As well as the shows we've been doing quite a bit of teaching lately, and have spent the last two Wednesdays at Quainton Stud teaching Pony Club children. We've been taking Casper and Navvy (and Ronan once), and they've been brilliantly behaved. I haven't managed to get any photos of these days yet but as soon as I do I'll put them up.

We're of to Blakesley Show tomorrow for a one day duo on Saturday, so I'll tell you all about that next week!

Lots of love

Rosie xx