The under 18’s sections are always hotly contested so I knew I needed to put my best foot forward in the dressage. With the words of ‘He who must be obeyed’ “Ride up the centre line like you own it” ringing in my ears, I did just that. Back in the stable yard it was all go with Glamour Girl ready to show jump when I returned.
Minnie Haha only had time for a quick drink before being legged up and sent off to warm up. Typically, The Old Girl faffed about and managed to miss most of Minnie’s round but came back to tell me she had gone clear. Then she was off to the cross-country where I could hear from the tanoy’s she zipped round clear making nothing of the course which was causing others a few problems. All too quickly it was my turn to show jump and I knew from the conversations around I had posted a very good dressage score so the pressure was on to go clear to maintain my position. Well, I wasn’t about to let the team down now was I? Off to the cross-country next where the same applied, “And no time faults for going too fast,” warned The Old Girl. “Spoil sport,” I muttered but I behaved myself and came home clear with no time penalties of any sort. It wasn’t long before it was confirmed I had finished second in my section. Glamour Girl was just out of the rosettes in her section, despite her double clear. We travelled home in good spirits leaving The Old Girl to help Tinkerbelle. We heard on route the ponies had both acquitted themselves well and gained valuable experience for the next outing. We all agreed Solihull was a fantastic venue, with such super kind and friendly people and we would definitely return there soon.
It was another under 18’s competition on the horizon for Minnie Haha and me, this time at Richmond in May. Oh how the British weather can be fickle. One week it’s roasting sun, the next its sleeting rain. We were practicing in a down pour, which didn’t let up, the day before and it came as no surprize to receive a message the event had been abandoned. How disappointing for the organisers and competitors, but safety is paramount and a fortnight later Bishop Burton cancelled too. Well, when that happens there is only one thing to do… head to the beach. Glamour Girl and I had a wonderful time on the sands at Fraisthorpe and the yard Guardian came along too. Surely the rain would have to stop soon?
Thankfully the sun shone at half term as I was despatched to an under 18’s training camp at Hexham with Minnie Haha in preparation for our run at Belsay International Horse Trials. And what a ball we had, it was great fun and we learnt so much. Friday afternoon we arrived at Belsay and met up with The Old Girl who had been busy all week with Pony Patrol camp at Hamley Hagg. The Young Master arrived later that evening so the team was complete. The atmosphere was electric in the stable block where ponies and horses were being prepared for the trot up on the final day of the national championships for junior and pony riders. Everywhere you looked, fit, lean equines were being led around by equally fit, lean handlers and it all started at the crack of dawn! I had considered myself quite trim but compared to these athletes I was more like Fat Boy Slim. It concerned The old Girl I hadn’t eaten all my haylage ration when she appeared with my breakfast, also at the crack of dawn (as is her way ) but she assured me she would return with a bucket of graze on grass and Speedi-Beet as a hay replacer. I am not one to complain but I had eaten up and there was no sign of her, what an earth was she doing. I guessed she had run into a crony and was probably gassing as she hardly manages to move a yard before someone is chatting to her! Finally, she appeared looking somewhat dishevelled (that’s quite normal really if I am honest) but also very wet down one side. Turned out in a bid not to disturb the sleeping beauties in the lorry she had mixed my feed in the back of the box and come out down the ramp only to slip and fall heavily off the side onto the wet grass. Whoops… wonder how much she’d had to drink the night before? Selfishly I wondered who an earth would plait my mane if she couldn’t bend her elbow or worse, how would we get home if she couldn’t drive the lorry. Such thoughts passed quickly along with worries about my waistline as I tucked into the Speedi-Beet and graze on with my usual relish…