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Dodgy haircuts, wrong test and team spirit for Billy Bank in November

Top of the Morning to you,

November has been a busy time with the Old Girl wielding the clippers like a mad woman. She was complaining like crazy about the tension not being right and was very unhappy clipping me before a BS outing to Bishop Burton. Now I am not saying anything but those words "It's only a week between a good and bad haircut" have never rung more true and boy was I glad she had done me a few days before our outing. I am pleased to report not only did I manage a double clear and a third place, the Old Girl took the clippers to Razor Sharp, at North Cave, for a service the result being no more tension issues and jokes from The Legend about having had a run in with the Barber of Seville! The Old Girl was full of praise for Rich Jennings and the job he had done restoring the clippers to as good as new and super sharp blades.

The Legend and I both had a routine visit from the Vet for our vaccinations and a quiet weekend before the Old Girl disappeared down South with the Woldgate School Equestrian Team who had qualified for another Championship at Keysoe. Fancy Piece, who you may remember spent some time here, was very excited to be going with Mini and we all had our ears pricked waiting for news. With the team ponies fuelled by Fibre-Beet we were expecting great things.

It filtered back that Fancy Piece had finished ninth in a very strong warm up class displaying some super tight turns which the team have all been practicing, with another team member just out of the placing’s. Hopes were high for the following day… When the bush telegraph started to beat the news wasn't so great. Mini, at the end of a cracking round way up on the clock, had gone completely blank and by passed the last fence believing she had missed the previous jump. A double clear from the next pony had restored hope but then an unfortunate involuntary dismount from player number three meant only a clear from the last pony could keep slim hopes alive. Sadly a pole down meant the team didn't make it into the second round.

Fancy Piece wasn't the only one who had pilot error that weekend, the following day at the Pony Club dressage series at Port Royal the Young Master and I entered at A and had barely changed the rein with a transition to walk before the judge rang her bell! What? The Old Girl was shouting the test and she blithely carried on causing the judge to leap out of the hut waving her arms dramatically. We have never had so much excitement in such circumstances. The Old Girl strode over announcing she was calling the novice test, only to be told she had the wrong one from 2009 and it was updated to 2018, whoops. Talk about weekend riders! The judge very kindly gave her a copy of the new test but she was so hopeless at shouting it, after The Young Master and I had cantered a 20 metre circle at A continually for 5 minutes, we retired. I was fully expecting some fireworks in the car park but everyone thought it was a huge joke. Thankfully we had the right test for the intermediate class and again we improved on our previous score breaking into the 70’s to finish second. Miss Irish produced her best test to date just short of 70%, so Team Ireland redeemed themselves. The new numnahs we received from British Horse Feeds looked super smart and I received many compliments on how well I looked.

I knew something serious was happening when the Old Girl pulled my mane and plaited me up on Sunday morning. From conversation gleaned I realised we were doing a BE jump training competition which involved jumping two rounds of show jumps under the watchful eye of a coach. Between rounds we would receive feedback and advice on how to improve and then we would be given a crib sheet rather like a dressage test. Prior to jumping the Young Master and other competitors had a course walk with the coach and a warming up session with another trainer. It all sounded very jolly and at our local venue Bishop Burton Arena too.

The standard was very high and I knew I would have to pull out all the stops if we were going to get a placing. The warm up went well although I found it hard to curb my enthusiasm and then in the arena I loved it, feeling like my old self.
I had been slightly concerned The Young Master, having celebrated his 21st Birthday earlier in the week, may have needed a sat nav round the course. But I needn't have worried as he was on top form and together we posted a double clear to receive some lovely comments on our sheet and finished in third place to qualify for the championships at Hartpury in February 2019...bring it on!

December looks like a fun time too with more outings planned so I shall be eating plenty of Fibre-Beet to help keep me in tip top condition.

Keep smiling!

Billy Bank x