Saturday, 30 July 2011

Three Counties Show

The Thursday after Bolesworth we were back on the road again and this time headed for the Three Counties Show.  This is my absolute favourite show of the year so I was a happy thing to be on our way there again.  In the lorry we had Becca, Amy, Tinker, Ronan, Navvy and myself - no boys yet, they were due to join us later on.  So it was up to us girls to erect the tent on our own again, and we did a blinding job - no saggy corners on our watch!

We were there for a three day duo, and planning to have Becca vault on Ronan for the first show followed by Amy vaulting on Ronan for the second show on Friday (with me and Tink both times of course!), then over the weekend have Becca do the first show on Navvy whilst Amy did the second show on Ronan.  However, unfortunately things didn't go to plan.  Having done two shows during the day on Friday Ronan was unmistakeably lame in the evening.  He'd been intermittently unsound for the last couple of weeks, but we thought he'd be ok due to having fancy new shoes with pads under his soles (at great expense to Becca!).  He'd had an easy couple of weeks and was on every supplement, lotion and potion under the sun to try and get him right, but it wasn't to be.  The following morning the vet prescribed three weeks rest, which had mixed reactions from us all: Becca, Amy and I horrified (how would we cope without him - lots of upcoming bookings, Navvy not ready to step into Ronan's shoes, double bookings looming?!); Navvy anxious (no pressure mate, but it's all up to you now!); but Ronan was nothing other than SMUG!  'Three weeks off you say, no work, don't mind if I do!'  We even started referring to him as Smugmore Ronan instead of Strathmore Ronan!  So whilst the rest of us toiled away for the weekend Ronan spent his time mooching about in his own specially constructed turn out paddock complete with gazebo to shelter under - all right for some!

So Navvy was chucked in at the deep end with two duos per day to perform.  Luckily, he'd had some show experience the previous week at Bolesworth, but not yet attempted a duo show.  The arena at The Three Counties is perfect for us though, it's just the right size, is lovely and flat, and has a warm up area at one end.  It was at this show back in 2007 that Tinker made his debut, again in a duo show, so we were quietly confident Navvy would be just fine - and he was!!  We introduced him as our newest member of the team and explained that he may be a bit wobbly and that anything could happen, but he was brilliant!  Becca did all her freestyles, he did his dances well, and did either the vault off with Thunderhoof or clown volunteer depending on the show.  The only thing that was a slight problem was that he'd cut across the ring to try and be as close to Tinker as possible - not helpful if you happen to be upside down!  We missed out the Roman Riding as we haven't rehearsed Tinker and Navvy together, and didn't think it'd be wise to try it for the first time in front of a very large audience!!  

All four of our shows went without a hitch, until the very last one on Sunday afternoon.  I'd done my dance with Tinker and jumped back on him to set up for skipping.  And that's when I smelt it.  Dog poo.  And far too close for comfort.  I'd manage to step in a hound turd and had very limited time to sort the situation out.  The last thing you want is to vault with turd on your foot.  It gets all over the horse and pads, which in turn gets all over you.  Becca had a very similar incident back in November when we were on tour, and it really isn't pleasant.  Luckily, Tim was approaching with my skipping rope, and Tinker's catching cloth was nearby...  It was over and above the call of duty for Tim to clean my shoe off with the cloth - but very very much appreciated!  And that cloth made a rapid retreat to the nearest bin!  So we'd reached the end of the final show with no major incidents, and then in the last five minutes the heavens opened and it poured with rain!  We've got some lovely photos of Becca and I carrying on regardless, and all you can see in the background are people huddled under their umbrellas!  Click here to see the photos of this and lots of others from the whole weekend.

Aside from the vaulting there was lots going on all weekend.  On the Friday afternoon following our show Amy and I were asked to pop down to the lake to 'brighten up the fishermen's day'!  So off we went, only to find ourselves five minutes later actually fishing!  We sat there for about half an hour with the very friendly teachers and both managed to catch a few fish.  I felt particularly guilty when I caught a goldfish, but just like the others he was unhooked before being put back in the water - hopefully not to make the same mistake again!  The whole area was organised by the Young Anglers Project to try and promote fishing, and they provided coaching all weekend for a huge variety of people.  It's the first time I've ever tried fishing, but I actually quite enjoyed it!  Good job too because imagine my surprise when I arrived back at the lorry later in the evening (having been for a wander around) Tim informed me that one of the anglers had been round to say I'd won a rod in their competition!  I didn't even realised I'd entered one!!  So the next day I went back down to the lake with Amy and they very kindly presented us both with a four metre whip rod complete with rig and disgorger (??!) - first time I've won anything since I was about six I think...

We also found time to visit the countryside marquee where there was a lovely selection of pigs, goats, sheep and chickens - some of which were actually hatching out of their eggs whilst we watched them!  Hatching is obviously very hard work - look how tired this little chick is!

After only an hour or so though look what there was!

Tim and Alex were delighted to discover the 'Potato Council' marquee one evening, and as we were planning to have sausage and mash in the evening for supper they drew faces on two of the doomed potatoes and took them off for some counselling!  I'm not quite sure what the people in charge made of our boys and their depressed potatoes but they came back with a whole lot of stickers with various potato-ey slogans on which they then proceeded to stick everywhere (much to Becca's annoyance!).

We saw loads of different things over the weekend, met up with lots of friends (old and new!), and generally had a jolly good time!  It was just unfortunate that we had to pack everything up soaking wet and it was once again a very bedraggled team who headed off in our separate ways on Sunday evening.

Next up is a one day duo show at Wisbech Country Fair, where Navvy will once again have to step up to the mark and perform two duo shows.  We're going to practise Roman Riding with him and Tink this week so I'll let you know how we get on with it!!

Lots of love,

Rosie xx

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Bolesworth Castle Showjumping Classic and Country Fair

The first weekend in June saw us packing up and heading up to Bolesworth Castle in Cheshire for a four day duo show.  We've not done a four day duo since way back in 2008 at the Royal Show - so it was going to be a bit of a shock to the system!  We had Navvy on board too for his first show experience, so the lorry was fairly cosy on the way up!  Having arrived and set up Becca, Amy and myself were soon joined by Alex and Bryn.  No Tim this weekend as the lucky grease monkey was working with the vintage Bugattis at Le Mans (alright for some...).

The arena was massive with loads of very big jumps, a non-movable water jump, a few ferraris, a prizegiving summerhouse type structure and a large tree all making impressive obstacles.  We spent quite a while marking out where we were going to put all our stands and ropes so best to avoid as much as we could.  And then discovered we were only expected to use one small end of the arena up by the grandstand.  Ooops.  So, arena remarked (nice and small, no obstacles!) that was us done for the day.

Our first show went well although it being 11.30am on a Thursday afternoon there very very very few people actually there watching!  Bryn debuted as the back of the pantomime horse, and as Amy was spare she did the music - it always feels safer when there's someone in charge of the music who knows the show!  As we were trying to save Ronan a bit we opted to do a solo show in the afternoon with just me and Tinker, and we had a slightly bigger audience which is always nice!

Friday again was quite quiet - so it was time to bring out the Navvy!  Him and Becca did a solo show and he went really well.  We did it as a baby show and I kept him on the lunge, but he coped well with the slightly slopey arena and did his dance much better than expected!  The only slight issue was that he has so much more movement than Ronan Becca had to adjust some of her moves - lots of oomph for swings and scissors though!  In the afternoon we did a duo show with Tinker and Ronan which went really well.  There was a whole bus load of school children who sat right at the front of the grandstand and were just brilliant - especially during Thunderhoof where they were on team Rebecca and made sure she won!  They were also fantastic during the roman riding and the whole lot of them joined in with the grease arms!  It really makes all the difference to have a good appreciative audience!  However, later on in the afternoon we weren't quite so glad to see them...  Becca and I were busy doing the washing up (round behind the toilets where there was a trough and tap).  There we were, show make up off, scruffy clothes on, scrubbing away at our pots, pans, crockery and cutlery when all the children filed past the other side of the fence.  'Brilliant' we thought 'they haven't seen us!'.  Then we caught the eye of one of the teachers who smiled and waved before announcing 'Look everybody - it's Rebecca and Rosie!'  Cue the stares, waves and shouts!  So, one minute you can be standing on the back of a cantering horses waving your ribbon stick to the admiration of everyone - next you're scrubbing pots behind the toilets with the same audience.  Life is a great leveller.

That evening was Wild West Night in the main marquee so we all trooped off to see what was happening.  There were a few people who'd got into the spirit of things and dressed up, and although Becca had a checked shirt on it was so cold she had a jumper on too so you couldn't see it, and Amy, Alex and I didn't realise it was supposed to be wild west so were in ordinary jeans and jumpers!  Anyway, there was a good bar and disco so the marquee soon filled right up.  We were standing right next to the rodeo bull watching people attempt to ride it and biding our time before having a go ourselves (we all love a bit of rodeo!) when we saw something that put me off ever riding one again.  There was a lady riding the bull, and doing quite well, before she was flung of with a sneaky twist.  As she fell, the bull swung around and managed to smack her in the face with it's bottom.  The poor girl was crouched on the floor with her hands over her face and obviously bleeding.  The paramedic arrived and it was then that we realised she had had one of her front teeth knocked out!  The paramedic had the tooth and was trying to put it back in, but as we were looking at the mat around the bull we realised there were still bits of tooth lying there - it hadn't only knocked her tooth out but shattered it!  We weren't quite sure what to do so I went to get a glass from the bar whilst Becca retrieved the bits of tooth.  Becca then had to give the grisly contents to the girl's friend ('I'm not sure if she might need these...?'), before she was taken off to hospital.  Not a nice way to end your evening but I hope she's ok by now!  The atmosphere was understandably a bit subdued for a while but it soon picked up and we spent the rest of the evening dancing away, especially with Del, one of our friends from the Champions Tour, with her signature moves - tits and teeth baby, arse and smile!!

On Saturday we repeated the shows with Navvy doing a solo in the morning and Tinker and Ronan doing the duo in the afternoon.  Navvy went off the lunge and went much better - although still very fast in comparison to Ronan!  Saturday was also the Express Eventing day so there was some different things going on which was really good to watch.  The cross country jumps looked beautiful but enormous, and I'm very glad Tinker views such jumps as barriers instead of obstacles to be jumped!  I could have done with a few decent barriers for him though back at the lorry.  We'd made the horses some good sized paddocks as we were in quite a large space, but by the afternoon Tinker had worked out how to escape from his (the grass is always greener on the other side), and I just couldn't keep him contained!  The string keeping him in (or not) was a lot higher up than we usually have it, so the little monkey was simply ducking underneath it!  I'd put him in, tell him to stay, walk into the lorry, look out of the window, and there he'd be wandering around free!  So, stable only for the naughty Tinker!

Sunday was our final day, and it was a wet one!  It absolutely poured with rain all day and we got soaked through.  We did two duo shows, Becca and I did the first one and then Amy took Becca's place for the afternoon.  Although I hate warming up in the rain (especially when you find out they're running forty-five minutes late and you've done it for nothing!) I actually quite like doing the shows in the rain.  We take everything as steady as possible, but it's quite fun to be up there doing your thing and looking out at the audience who are all huddled beneath their umbrellas!  Having said that, I MUCH prefer doing shows in the sunshine so hopefully the 'summer' will give us some soon!  We finally packed everything up (still in the pouring rain) before heading home - once again a very bedraggled and tired team!  You can click here to see some photos of our time at Bolesworth. 

We've got the Three Counties Show next which is my absolute favourite show of the year - so hoping for some decent weather - I'll let you know soon!

Lots of love,

Rosie xx