Straight from the horse’s mouth… Here we catch up with Billy Bank and Team Ireland as they reminisce on 2021 and start setting goals for the new season.
Top of the morning to you,
And for sure it’s a cold one at that. Of course, frosty mornings and chilly evenings here means Granny gives us all warm Fibre-Beet mashes with more than just a sprinkle of British Horse Feeds Cooked Linseed mixed in. No one leaves a crumb and the buckets are licked completely clean… waste not, want not is an Ireland family motto which applies to us all.
Christmas came and went in a flash. I was very lucky to receive a wonderful new rug and numnah with the British Horse Feeds logo on and the news I am continuing to be supported as a Brand Ambassador. I am extremely grateful and hope I will do the company proud again when we start competing.
The annual Boxing Day hack was upheld by the arrival of Fast and Furious. Generally, someone falls off or at least has a near miss and this year was no exception. I won’t name and shame the person who failed to tighten their girth or the Piebald Legend who took advantage of this fact but rather like the family watching ‘Die Hard’ every year, us equines have to keep such traditions alive too!
Once the cobwebs had been blown away the ride took on a more sedate pace and again traditions were upheld with discussions on past and then future events. Setting goals always starts with communication and collaboration with realistic targets set and aimed for.
Granny was full of how much she had enjoyed riding me at Frickley and what a wonderful day we had with other friends riding and supporting us. This has inspired the Old Bird to try to qualify me for the 2022 BE80 Championship at Bramham.
“You do realise you have to WIN an 80 before May?” questioned Fast to which Granny replied, with a casual shrug of her shoulders, “Yes, that is a slight inconvenience. However, I know Billy can do it so I will just have to speed up a bit on the cross country.”
And with that she shook me into canter and we galloped off down the track, catching the others unaware and leaving them for dust. Further discussions followed on which events we might attend whilst chasing this dream.
“I loved Solihull,” Granny sighed wistfully, “Billy did such an amazing test with Minnie Haha and everyone there was so friendly and we were even given the rosette when he came second.” – My halo was glowing I can tell you!
“We will definitely have to return there,” the Trio agreed. Oasby was another event that got the thumbs up and Breckenbrough which will be HaHa and King Kato’s debut at novice level in the Under 18’s.
The chat continued with reminiscing over the Area Festival at Frickley. We had all gone clear cross country around the tough championship track, but the howling laughter centred on the snoring which had come from a neighbouring tent and how Granny had assumed it was Tinkerbelle’s dog keeping everyone awake not a fellow competitor.
Then of course there was Granny’s epic fall at Belsay, when she slipped off the horsebox ramp in the early hours covering herself in wet Speedi-Beet. Despite the fractured elbow that event ranked as one of the best all season and received the unanimous vote of approval to return. Although I did hear Granny say she might give the Peruvian street food a miss this year… Best not enquire!
“What about the Youth Champs? Do you think the Minnies will get picked?” asked Furious as we turned for home.
“What a roller coaster ride that was,” said Granny, giving me an absent minded pat. “Every conceivable emotion experienced and packed into five days. A bit like the weather too. The girls will be trying their hardest to be in contention for a place on the Northern Squad but competition is fiercely competitive. Still, we have a good string of horses well established at the levels so we can give it our best shot.”
Offchurch Bury was given the seal of approval both for the 1* and Pony Club Championships, which I attended with The Young Master, and the intention to return with Minnie Haha taking the reins this year.
“Everyone was so friendly,” Granny recalled. “Nobody wants Rambo on the gate telling you ‘you can’t park your car next to the lorry’ when you have a boot full of crockery and cooking equipment.” The Trio all nodded knowing the local event that reference referred to.
By now we equines were beginning to glean the human’s enjoyment of events isn’t purely result orientated, so many other factors play a part and the memories which are made don’t just centre on winning a rosette.
Of course, we all know Granny loves it when we win a bucket almost more so than a rug. She can soak us plenty of Fibre-Beet for one thing, but above all else it is friendship which seems the key – Attending events with friends, supporting your friends through thick and thin, meeting up with old friends and of course making new friends. Eventing appears to thrive on this.
So, on that note I shall wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to the 2022 eventing season starting soon.
Billy Bank x