Straight from the horse’s mouth… Here we catch up with Billy Bank and the team as the Young Master makes his comeback and there’s a selection for the International Youth Championships at Bishop Burton.
Top of the morning to you, and how glorious the weather has been for all the sun worshippers. Although, those of you that know me well know, I prefer a spot of light rain at all times.
Granny, who always maintains tanned fat looks better than white, likes nothing better than to feel those infra-red rays but even she has been moaning how hot it has been and the ground is too hard.
Of course us equines have been spoilt rotten with stable fans and regular hydrating feeds of sloppy Fibre-Beet lovingly supplied by the red faced humans.
July was a month to remember with the news The Leading Lady and I had the honour of being selected for the Northern Squad at the International Youth Championships at Bishop Burton in August.
We attended a training camp where it was great to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones too. All the coaches gave excellent tips and advice which we have been following to the letter which will hopefully result in a good performance and score for our Northern Team.
I have also had several sessions with ‘He who must be Obeyed’ but not just with The Leading Lady on board! The Young Master announced, quite out of the blue, he wanted one last bash at qualifying for the Pony Club Championships!
“He’s had more comebacks than Toddy or Tait!” snorted The Legend when the news filtered through.
Stable cat retorted, “That’s rich coming from you Mr Sinatra”. It was all beyond the Yard Guardian, who quite frankly is not the sharpest needle in the pack.
So off I trundled to some Pony Club rallies to meet the criteria, and then the Area show jumping at Northallerton. Granny had Fat Boy Slim and the Unicorn sister on board too for Little Sis but no back up as Tinkerbelle was ill.
To say the day was fraught was a slight understatement with class times clashing. It was like a French farce the way we came on and off the lorry, with Little Sis thrown from one pony to the other. End of round one we were all clear.
Round two didn’t go quite to plan. I had a pole after spooking at the Leprechaun in the corner which then resulted in a jump off for the final qualifying spot. The Young Master proved he hadn’t lost his touch posting the fastest time riding me round some very interesting lines. Boy did I help him out tucking up and bending my knees under my chin to leave the poles up. Job done… a ticket to the champs!
I danced my Irish jig back to the lorry to see a very harassed Granny hustling Little Sis off to walk her course as she was first in. From a distance it all looked good, The Unicorn Sister jumping clear in her usual stylish fashion but the commentator announced sadly; “Sorry you’re eliminated for missing the last fence”.
“Noooo!” Granny’s wail reverberated round the car park. She hadn’t realised there was another fence and only walked with Little Sis to the penultimate one. No time for tears it was up to Fat Boy Slim now to deliver, and the little welsh wizard did, popping round all the fences clear. Lots of sloppy Fibre-Beet for tea that night, I can tell you, and more preparation for the Area Horse Trials.
With temperatures forecast into the 30’s there was much consternation around the date of the Horse Trials but Granny was prepared. Fans, Fibre-Beet and a gazebo were packed and we’d all been shovelled full of electrolytes during the week. Early morning exercise had been the norm and a visit from our favourite Lincolnshire coach, Prince Philip, ensured we were all up to speed and cooking on gas.
Thankfully I was on early but the rustiness from The Young Master showed when he made an uncharacteristic mistake and forgot the dressage test, right before the medium trot too! This carried into the show jumping too where he buried me in an oxer.
“Come on boyo,” I muttered to The Young Master, “get your mind on the job”.
There were no such errors on the cross country and we cruised round inside the time to take individual third in the 100, plus our score helped the team secure the win and a ticket to the Champs. I predict there will be some sessions with ‘He who must be obeyed’, coming up soon!
The hydrating properties of the sloppy Fibre-Beet had never been needed so much, or appreciated. I had a lovely cool drink, stood under the fan and waited to hear how the young guns were faring. It was one of those days when all the stars were aligned for them.
Fat Boy Slim put on his wizard hat and led from start to finish. The Unicorn Sister, despite her young jockey forgetting the test, posted a cracking score of 28 which she maintained, and both whippersnappers won their sections. That’s another Championship to attend for the team in Derbyshire at the end of August.
So what a month it has been, I only hope we can all retain our good form. To beat the hard ground and the irritating dust, we have had several trips to the beach where the sea air has certainly helped put a spring in our strides.
Lots of sloppy Fibre-Beet has been consumed and for the last 10 days I have had my temperature taken twice a day to comply with FEI rules. Everything has been normal in that direction but I can’t say Granny’s blood pressure has been!
On that note I shall sign off!
Love Billy Bank xx