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Billy Bank is ready for 2020

Top of the Morning to You,

What a glorious morning it is too, the sun is out and no wind today. The British weather! Who knows what to expect? Let's hope it stays fine as the 2020 season is so close to starting for so many.

Things wound down a little bit here over Christmas giving us all a break. While I enjoy putting my feet up with a pint of Guinness and a copy of Horse & Hound I soon get bored and into mischief! Oh yes I love to reach over the stable, grab whatever I can reach and throw it down the yard. It drives the Old Girl mad. After a morning where the Legend and I BOTH had her picking up headcollars and buckets she announced "Enough!" and summoned Fast and Furious to come over for a hack... That ride blew a few cobwebs away I can tell you. Conversation was rife about who had received what for Christmas and while socks seemed to be the top of every human list I can now boast I am the proud owner of yet another bling browband, which is marginally more tasteful (is that even possible?) than the last! Further topics discussed included the news British Horse Feeds continue to want me as a Brand Ambassador and Jackson Handling Ltd, a company which supply work based clothing and equipment, will be supporting me too along with our long term supporters from Fantastic Books Publishing Ltd. Team Billy Bank is very grateful to everyone who gives us support and help in any form.

Early in January, with the Young Master and the Old Girl both away, The Old Boy took the Legend and I over to Port Royal for the Minnie's to compete us in Pony Club Show jumping. Somehow we managed to end up with the correct tack on and the girls rode some super rounds to gain placing’s and valuable points on the leader board for The York & Ainsty Pony Club branch. We also attended a pony club rally at Askham Bryan College where jumping skinnies was the order of the day. Looking at the width of The Legend I did wonder if he would fit through the flags but he showed me a clean pair of heels and said he was thinking the same thing about me! The cheek of it, I ask you? It was great fun and with the Pony Club organising an indoor arena eventing competition at Askham Bryan at the end of March good practice for us all. Check out the York & Ainsty South PC website for full details and a schedule if you fancy coming, with classes starting at 60cms up to 95cms there is something for everyone and some fantastic prizes and trophies to win.

The Woldgate School team have been training hard and had a trip up to Northallerton for a dressage competition. Glamour Girl a little bit ring rusty in the prelim pulled out all the stops in the Novice to take a win and qualify for the championships in April. Fancy Piece showed a clear improvement to take a 4th individually and help the team finish second. Babyface and Fatboy Slim, riding for the opposition, posted a good test too and were on the winning team which will also be heading to the championships at Hartpury. This competition heralded the arrival of a new combination from Tinkerbelle’s stable when Little Sis riding The Master made her debut. A 4th in the warm up class saw her smiling from ear to ear... Looks like we have a few dressage divas emerging… maybe I can sell them my bling?

Finally The Young Master and I had a proper outing to Richmond, our goal to try and qualify for the BE Arena Eventing championship at Weston Lawns in a couple of weeks. The wind buffeted the lorry all the way up the A1 and I could hear The Old Girl declaring, "We must be mad.” Well, we know that for sure! I have to say The Old Girl was not at her sparkling best suffering from some sort of bug or other.

It felt good to be back in the thick of it, catching up with everyone we haven't seen for a while. Getting the speed right for these arena event competitions can often be tricky, as watches are not allowed, but The Young Master had a plan, a cunning plan indeed, to count to himself whilst riding round. Far be it for me to be dubious but I wasn't totally convinced. Just goes to show what I know as we popped round the 90 in a lovely rhythm , clear all the way to finish inside the optimum time and post zero penalties... only one of three combinations to do so which secured us second place and a championship ticket. Maybe we should have quit while we were ahead as The Old Girl was turning blue with the cold and I had thoughts on a nice warm Fibre-Beet mash for when I got home but we were entered for the 100 class and The Young Master seemed up for it. Cantering round I took matters into my own hands, putting in a nifty swerve which completely took my jockey by surprise! I hadn't actually meant for him to fall off but yes you guessed it, out the side door he went. Bang went the air jacket followed by the walk of shame back to the lorry. The Old girl never blames me and always looks to the jockey so I knew I would still receive my hot mash and treats.

Sorry everyone but occasionally my sense of humour gets the better of me but this usually results in a visit to "He who must be obeyed" so I wasn't surprised when we rocked up at his yard on Monday. "Not good enough Nick! Again!" echoed round the arena as we bounced down grids and strove for a better quality canter. With another session booked for next week I wonder who is laughing now?

Keep smiling everyone

Love Billy Bank xx