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Time off for Billy Bank in January

Top of the Morning to you,

January has been a mixed month here at Team Ireland, with all of us suffering somewhat from the January Blues.

Everything started well with fun at a New Year's Eve gathering for the humans followed by a great New Year's Day ride with cronies of the Old Girl. The Pony Club moved their annual awards to a chocolate making adventure which went down a treat with the children who got to keep and eat the things they made. The Young Master and I received some cracking silver ware for our efforts of 2018 and with plenty of BS outings on the horizon interspersed with some dressage we were all set for full steam ahead… how wrong we were. Firstly the humans all got hit by the flu bug, in fact the Old Boy is still suffering although the upside being he has lost some much needed weight gained over the festivities.

The Young Master and I were due for a session with "He who must be obeyed" and the Old Girl had gamely dragged herself out to take us and even Bettsy, our trusty lorry, was feeling off it and wouldn't start.

"I think it's the starter motor", I heard her croak but with the Old Boy too ill to come out and help we had to cry off. Two mechanics and a recovery truck later Bettsy was shipped down to the garage and apparently proceeded to start immediately under the silken touch of her regular man, Nick the spanner, when he had time to take a look.

The Old Girl was extremely thankful the breakdown insurance was up to date but somewhat irritated by the whole scenario which caused us to miss training and a competition over that weekend.

Moving on and in a borrowed lorry belonging to one of the Young Master's supporters we attended some pony club dressage at Port Royal with another ride on board. Irish coloureds do seem to be the favourite ride of the Team Ireland crew and the young Master partnered Indie in her first test that included cantering. As first attempts go it wasn't bad but there is much to improve on so I'll say no more.

My own efforts were a little better but some unscheduled freestyle movements in the canter left (we all know how boring it gets trundling round with our noses in the right place and I like to keep them on their toes) obviously affected the marks. We managed some placing’s and more points on the board but with a visit from the dentist already scheduled for the following day I heard Karina, the wonderful physio from Tadcaster, being booked too.

Monday morning the dentist arrived and proceeded to make the Old Girl feel like the worst horse owner in Christendom when he pointed out a large lump which he told her was a blind wolf tooth and how on earth had that gone unidentified for years? Surely the horse must be unrideable, grabbing the bit and refusing to turn? Now I have to say I felt really sorry for the Old Girl as she always puts our needs above her own and for the record I have my teeth checked twice a year and no other dentist or vet as ever pointed out this lump. Keen to resolve the issue the Old Girl was straight on the phone to the Vets, Cundall and Duffy, and on Thursday Philip duly turned up and removed the offending lump, which was a wolf tooth. The general opinion was, due to the angle in which the tooth was lying, that maybe I had banged my head and aggravated it causing it to move. The Legend looked at me knowingly when this was mentioned and I thought I had better keep quiet about our New Year's Eve Party and the head banging to Status Quo.

My back was done on Friday so I now feel like a new horse but having had stitches in my mouth I am off games for the week. The Young Master will have to sit tight when I am back in action for sure.

With my feet up it was down to The Legend to fly the flag at the pony club jumping at Port Royal with his new young rider 9 year old 'Minnie Me'. What can I say, the pair smashed it of course with a win in the 75cms beating some much older riders (I doubt there were any older ponies but don't tell the Legend I said that). So the lucky old Legend now has a couple of arena eventing comps to look forward to while I have to stay at home. Life sucks at times but of course I get to have extra sloppy Fibre-Beet so every cloud has a silver lining!

There were quite a few old Team Ireland ponies in attendance at the pony club show jumping, Princess Bubbles, Tilly Tot and Tight Spot, also bringing home some points for the York & Ainsty South branch helping to give them a healthy lead for the moment and with all of them fed on Fibre-Beet that really does say it all.

The Young Master rode Blue again posting two good rounds with placing’s so I can see I will have to raise my game next time out just to keep the whipper snappers in their place!

So keep smiling everyone and here's hoping next month I am the one flying the flag.
Billy Bank x