Thursday, 23 September 2010

Penistone Show and Wormleighton Fun Ride

Last Friday afternoon Becca, Ronan, Tim, Tinker and myself set off for Penistone Agricultural Show, South Yorkshire, for a one day duo show. Having finally arrived after horrible M1 traffic we had to be towed onto site by a tractor as the ground was already impossible to drive on - that's the second time this year now! Thankfully the rest of the day went without a hitch, although everything underfoot was very very wet, which didn't bode well for the show the following day.

Saturday morning dawned grey and overcast, although we weren't too worried as our performance times were not until 2pm and 4pm. So we passed the time in the morning cleaning tack, sewing and generally being very domesticated - as far as you can be in a lorry on a wet hillside! We also spent the morning waiting for Amy, our lovely new apprentice who was travelling up from London and getting stuck in even worse traffic than we did. Amy is another ex-vaulter, having competed in the British Team (although after mine and Becca's day!). She is now an aerialist, and is so incredibly flexible she puts Becca and I to shame! Thankfully she made it up before the first show, so we set about getting her into costume. Easier said than done when the costume in question was Alex's! So, finally, we were ready for the show! The horses were warmed up, we were warmed up, girths tight, on the horses - and then told the arena was running late and we wouldn't be on for another thirty minutes. So, off horses, back in stables, girths loosened, top hats off, and we waited. It was so funny, having put the horses back in their stables they both started being really active, performing tricks on their own accord and being very attention seeking. They'd obviously been totally ready to go and perform, and decided that they were still going to regardless of the fact that they were back in the tent!

Before long it was show time, and despite our trepidations about the ground (the arena was on a bit of a slope and there had been A LOT of rain) the show went really well.  Both the boys looked after us brilliantly (as usual!), and considering Amy had been thrown in at the deep end clowning for a duo show having never even seen us perform before she did fantastically well!  The only problem we had was music related - in that at one point we had none!  It was for the strip - the part of the show most reliant on music of course!  As per usual Becca asked for 'some music to cover our costume change' and was rewarded with a shake of the head from the music man!  Eeek!  Undeterred, I started off anyway, and people soon got the idea of what was going on!  Thankfully the music came on just as we were finishing the strip, and stayed on for the rest of the show - it turned out that someone had tripped over a lead and unplugged it from the generator - oops!  The rest of the show went well, with Tim On Fire doing a brilliant Thunderhoof - the crowd really got behind him and he definitely won the vault off!

Unfortunately the weather worsened after the first show and by the time our second performance was due the rain had really set in.  By this time it was about 5pm, and most people had gone home already.  We were warmed up, in costume, and ready to go despite the weather, but unfortunately the decision was made to pull the show.  We were very disappointed, but it could have been quite dangerous vaulting with the ground conditions as they were, and all for a very small crowd huddled under umbrellas!  The organisers did say they'd like to have us back, so hopefully next time we go the weather will be kinder to us!

The next day Becca and I had a Sunday off, so we decided to do something that 'normal' people do with their horses - a fun ride!  So we set off for Wormleighton following our sat nav.  She proceeded to take us the most unsuitable route imaginable, which involved three hills of over 12% in steepness and some very very wiggly roads!  Having finally arrived who should we see in the lorry park but Alex!  He was on board a very feisty looking horse, and had just finished the ride.  Probably a good job as I don't think either Casper or Navvy would have kept up with them if we'd have gone round together!  We had an absolutely lovely ride, and the weather was gorgeous.  The route was beautiful and had lots of fantastic wide grass strips for cantering on and lots of jumps.  Casper and Navvy both did really well on the jumping front, and both thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Casper was brilliant popping over everything I asked him too and being very enthusiastic about the whole thing!  We went around fields, alongside a canal, through farmyards, and up grassy tracks.  Halfway around there was a refreshment stop where we were plied with orange squash (me), port (Becca!) and bourbon biscuits - who could ask for more!  Unfortunately Navvy used the refreshment stop for different purposes, and did the longest wee imaginable!  I haven't seen Becca blush so much for a long time!!  On our return we were given rosettes (now hanging in the lorry!), and practised the horse's tricks.  There was still quite a lot of activity going on around us but both the boys concentrated very well and performed their dances perfectly.  All in all we had a fantastic day and hopefully we'll be able to go back next year - show dates permitting of course!

We're off to Southwell Ploughing Match at the weekend for a one day duo show.  It's our last outdoor show of the season so finger's crossed for sunshine!!  I'll tell you all about it soon but in the mean time have a look at the photos from Penistone Show and the Wormleighton Fun Ride to see what we've been up to!

Lots of love

Rosie xx

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Welsh Festival of the Horse

Wow! Wales is windy! On Friday Rebecca, Ronan, Tinker and I set off for Margam Park, South Wales, for the Welsh Festival of the Horse, where we were to be performing our duo shows for the two day show. Tim and Alex were due to arrive in the evening, as work and college commitments meant they couldn't travel down with us. We were looking forward to the weekend as there were going to be a couple of other teams performing who we know: The Independent Horse Extreme Demo Team and The Knights of Arkley.
Saturday morning came around and before our show Tim headed off to help out with the Independent Horse show. He was going to be horseboarding, which he'd had a go at the previous time we'd met at last years Middlesex Show. This time there was a bit of a difference though. Tim would be boarding behind a pair of horses being roman ridden by the team leader Dan, whilst his brother Tom was boarding as well! You can see from the photo above how it all worked - it looked really good! Tim did really well considering he's only ever done it once before - I don't think he fell off once in all four shows he did for them! It was really good to see the trick riding as well, it's always good to see others perform - it gives you all kinds of ideas!
Our shows both went really well although the arena was quite difficult. Not only was it on a slope but also quite bumpy. Tinker and Ronan looked after us really really well though and didn't put a foot wrong - they really are super boys! The only problem we had was the wind. It was so strong at times it was just ridiculous. My hair was utterly wild to the point I felt like I may as well have done the show blindfold! It was across my face, in my eyes, I even swallowed some of it at one point - not ideal when you're trying to talk on a mic!
Having finished our last show we all stopped to watch the jousting show (Tinker and Ronan included!). They were very good with lots of action - their horses are fiery little things! We stood at the side shouting BOO and HOOZAH, until we nearly had our heads swiped off by one of the bad knights! Tinker was a funny thing watching them all - he was standing at the side of the arena with me watching everything going on with his ears pricked and really paying attention. I think he may fancy a change of career!
In the evening we all sat around the obligatory washing machine drum bonfire with the other teams, although the wind was again very unhelpful and by the time we went to bed we all smelt like we'd been on fire ourselves! The wind didn't let up all night and I've never known the lorry to rock so much! The tent spent the night doing it's best jellyfish impression despite Rebecca's 3am attempts at tying all the wallings down! Luckily none of this seems to worry the boys, although Tinker did spend most of Sunday morning fast asleep, possibly trying to catch up on sleep he'd missed during the night!
Sunday was even more blustery than Saturday, and I can honestly say I have never struggled so much in a show! During the first show there was also a really heavy shower just as we were doing the strip - not ideal weather for taking you clothes off in! We had to laugh as we were stripping whilst people were huddling around the arena in welly boots under their umbrellas! Thankfully it was just a shower and for the rest of the day we only had the wind to contend with. This was enough though and gave Tinker's skipping rope a life of it's own! Roman riding was also tricky as the horses were struggling to canter uphill into the wind, we were struggling to stand on them, and to top it all off we couldn't see because of our hair! Fun and games!!
Despite the unhelpful weather both shows went really well again, and all in all we had a lovely weekend. It was great to see so many old friends, as well as making some new ones, and everyone at the show was very friendly and helpful - especially Roger the sound man who did a superb job!
We're off to Penistone Show in South Yorkshire tomorrow for a one day duo on Saturday. It was going to be a solo show and I'd been gearing up to take Casper for his big debut. However, the organisers rang on Tuesday and asked if they could have the duo instead, so Casper has been relieved of duty and Tinker doesn't get a weekend off after all! I'll tell you all about it soon, but in the meantime you can see a few photos from our windy Welsh weekend here.
Lots of love
Rosie xx