Giving you the lowdown on who’s who in the Billy Bank team?
Granny/Old Girl – Pippa Ireland
He Who Must Be Obeyed – Top Trainer and Ex Olympian Eventer Gary Parsonage
Baby Face – Noah Marsh
The Leading Lady – Polly Raper
The Legend – Nick Ireland’s show jumping pony, Puzzle
Purple Corker – Daytime Polly
The Guardians – Yard Rottweilers, Zeus and Pablo
Billy Bank – That’s me!
Top of the Morning to you all,
How quickly the weeks have galloped past, and I can’t quite believe the eventing season is already over. They do say that time flies when you are having fun and that has certainly been the case here at Team Billy Bank. The JCB Pony Club championships, with the Leading Lady at the helm, seems a distant memory but we certainly won’t forget what a splendid time we had back in August at Offchurch Bury. Being away for almost a whole week tested Granny’s organisational skills but while some might scoff at her list making, which she religiously adheres to, The Old Girl did us proud not forgetting a single item. Speedi-Beet, Fibre-beet, Cooked Linseed and TurmerAid were all on board to ensure all my nutritional needs were met along with rugs galore for every type of weather that the British climate could throw at us. As always we stayed with our good friend Amy, for whom nothing is too much trouble, and it wasn’t long before some familiar faces turned up. I could see that this trip, my fifth with a third jockey, would be super good fun!
For the first time ever I was contesting pure dressage along with eventing. I put my best hoof forward to score over 70% and take a 6th placed rosette in what Granny described as a “seriously hot class”. A great way to start the championships and give the Leading Lady some confidence for The Chairman’s Cup eventing section which followed later that week. The weather turned from blisteringly hot to pouring rain and we were all drenched waiting for the trot up. I could barely contain my excitement but behaved long enough for the bowler hat to be lifted announcing “Billy Bank pass”. The two other members of Pony Club Area 3 Team were through, so it was game on. The sun decided to shine for the three of us that afternoon while we performed our tests in a long arena in front of not one judge but two. Granny was very happy with our test which left me handily placed when we headed down to the show jumping.
I think it is fair to say The Leading Lady was more than a little bit nervous as the track was huge, but she rode me with complete conviction which made the pole we had down so annoying. Our team mates also picked up 4 faults each, so we were still in the hunt. I probably slept better than anyone that night having had plenty of hydrating Speedi-Beet throughout the day so I came out full of running ready to take on the cross country the next morning. I knew the nerves were kicking in as The Leading Lady had never jumped round a course as big or technical as she was about to embark upon, but everyone trusted me to look after her and that’s just what I did. Oh, my goodness we came back to an ecstatic support team and while we didn’t finish in the rosettes the experience was positive giving The Leading Lady a real belief in herself. Back at the box I was naturally treated like a King given copious amounts of hydrating sloppy Fibre-Beet before we headed home.
September saw me returning to the British show Jumping circuit giving Babyface a taste of success. While he hasn’t quite learnt to shave off the corners yet, like The Young Master, we have banged out double clears every time resulting in money in the bank and qualifications for second round competitions. Purple Corker accompanied me on these trips, and she is beginning to get the hang of bending her knees and tucking up also qualifying for some second rounds.
October brought the biggest surprise when Granny announced she would ride me at the remaining events on the BE calendar. “What,” exclaimed The Legend, when this news filtered into the yard, “I thought she was never going to an October event again.” “Never say never”, said the sage old house cat, who rarely ventures into the stables these days. “She means business, she’s booked a lesson.” He who Must be Obeyed put us through our paces highlighting Granny’s lack of riding fitness. I helped The Old Girl out a lot by halting squarely every time so “No! Do it again,” didn’t ring out quite as frequently as when The Young Master has a session. Purple Corker was finally making her BE debut with The Young Master at Askham Bryan too so the pair of us had a night away at a friend’s yard close to the venue so we wouldn’t have a 4.30am start! The pair of us both let our halo’s slip in the dressage, Corker finding the haphazard warming up of other competitors just all too much and me, well sometimes I just like a joke!! All the BS outings paid off as Corker produced a polished clear round as did I, despite giving Granny a bit of a hard time in the warmup.
By now Corker was beginning to enjoy herself and set off on the cross country in fine form. A slight teeter at the drop picked up 20 pens but the support team, of which had a cast of thousands, were more than happy she had completed her first BE 90 .
Granny and I set off on the 80 track in a determined mode, she took me a bit by surprize shaking the reins and fair making me fly up the hill to the second fence. This is more like it I thought but then she slowed me down at the water. Dear oh dear what was she thinking. That little moment cost her precious time and despite galloping round we picked up a few time pens knocking us off the top spot to 6th. Still, we had a good time and I heard at Norton Disney she wouldn’t make the same mistake. Sadly, though the Great British weather put a halt to all our plans as rain stopped play. Such a huge disappointment to the organisers who put so much time and effort into running events.
So now we are back on the BS scene with the threat of some dressage hanging in the air. The colder weather brings its benefits as Granny makes warming Fibre-Beet and Cooked Linseed mashes giving us a shine inside and out. Given my age I am now officially classed as a veteran, so it is essential I have extra joint support, this comes in the form of TurmerAid from British Horse Feed’s sister company The Golden Paste Company. Feel free to use our code BILLYBANK20 for a discount on their products via the website. The Guardians love all the products of doggy delights they offer, the old boy being particularly fond of TurmerEase.
Take care everyone, keep smiling.