Does Billy Bank Get His Bling?

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What a wash out October has been, rain well and truly stopping play for the Young Master and I, both our BE outings were cancelled. It is so disappointing for everyone involved when the elements conspire against us. Thankfully not all was lost and the sun shone at Askham Bryan Horse Trials for Fancy Piece to make her BE debut with Minne Hehe along with Minnie Haha picking up my reins again.
It would be fair to say Fancy Piece has always preferred jumping to dressage, so I gave her a few tips in the warm up. “More right bend, slow down, slow down. No, again. Again.” Words I often hear from “He who must be obeyed” and let’s face it, he DOES KNOW what he is talking about! But the great thing about the BE80 competitions is the fact coaches are on hand to help competitors so we sought out the dressage coach for more words of wisdom, and strangely enough she said pretty much the same. Trotting down the centre line I went into serious dressage mode, springing from diagonal to diagonal to display my natural cadence and WOW I even surprised myself by actually enjoying this phase. Even Fancy Piece said afterwards she hadn’t minded the test too much but was looking forward to the jumping more.
Warming up for the show jumping I could tell by the way The Old Girl came scuttling over from the score boards something was a foot. I strained my ears but only heard, “Don’t tell them”.  
Fancy Piece and I both posted clears in the show jumping, popping round without so much as touching a pole. It was only then I learnt I was leading after the dressage with my BEST ever test and Fancy Piece was in the top 10 in her section too. We both went off to the cross country warm up knowing clear rounds must be the order of the day. The coloured cobs flew the flag for Team Ireland and cruised round no problem except I went a bit too quickly (whoops) and picked up a few reserve time penalties dropping into 3rd place. This still couldn’t dent The Old Girl’s excitement of twelve 8’s on my dressage score sheet and the promise of a bling browband for our forthcoming dressage championship next month (but more of that later). Our placing was good enough for another ticket next year to the 80 regional finals and a chance to qualify for the Championship to be held at Burghley. Fancy Piece picked up 7th in her section and her first BE rosette, the first of many I think. There was plenty of Fibre-Beet on the menu that night I can tell you.
So while I stayed in wet and windy Yorkshire Fancy Piece, Glamour Girl, Fat Boy Slim and Wild Mane headed down south to Addington Manor with plenty of Fibre-Beet on board the fleet of lorries. The Minnie’s, Sprout and Babyface were all pretty excited to be representing their various schools at the National Championships. When the bush telegraph started to beat it was good news, a clear round from Fat Boy Slim in the show jumping, a nifty round from Fancy Piece in the Scurry along with a clear in the style jumping. Day 1 was definitely topped off by Babyface being part of the winning team in the 75cms jumping with style, a competition which ran through the whole day due to the massive entry.
Day two started well with another clear from Fat Boy Slim in the team show jumping helping his school finish on zero faults. Glamour Girl proved she is not just a pretty face zipping round the Scurry to gain a coveted 3rd placed rosette before a long wait for Wild Mane and Sprout to contest the 85cms jumping with style. The JWS course had some tricky lines and tight turns to test the best of them with some very skinny fences. At only just nine-years-old Sprout was undoubtedly one of the youngest riders facing one of the biggest tracks she had jumped to date. What were they all worried about? I knew the pair would be fine after all Wild Mane is a coloured pony and we all know we’re the best. Despite a sticky moment at the double of skinny brushes where Sprout defied gravity, gaining the biggest cheer of the day, the pair sailed round just clipping a pole which kept them out of the top placing’s, but earned a special mention from the judges who all wanted to take Wild Mane home with them. I think I can safely say Sprout won’t be letting him leave the yard!!
Day three – Dressage for Glamour Girl and Minnie Haha was their first time in a long arena. The pair were going great remembering all the moves and then a loud bell rang. “Well I knew I hadn’t gone wrong,” Glamour girl told me with a sniff of distain in her voice, “So we just kept going, but it certainly put off Minnie Haha.” It was such a shame as the pair narrowly missed out on a top placing being distracted by the bell from the neighbouring arena. Oh well better luck at next month’s championship when I will be joining in too.
So with all the forthcoming focus on dressage The Old Girl announced she was buying me a bling browband. Thankfully the stall at the Horse Trials didn’t have any nor did the shop at the NSEA championships so the Young Master copped for some new breeches instead.
Undeterred she went on line and was in her element, over whelmed by the choice and styles available. “It’s gorgeous,” she told me, “You’ll love it Billy.” The Young Master and I were not too sure about this, and I felt I might have to take matters into my own hands, but what could I do?
I have watched her nipping out to check the post box, the deflation of the shoulders and lack of spring in the return stride announcing it hadn’t yet arrived. Phew… My saviour arrived in the form of a relief postman who didn’t know he shouldn’t actually put any post through the letter box or The Guardians would read it first…oh yes they love to rip open eventing magazine and devour bank statements. Of course The Old Girl was blissfully unaware this chap had taken over. The howl of anguish could be heard in the neighbouring village when she discovered!! A rather sheepish Guardian slunk into the stables but told me with a smirk, “Don’t Worry Billy, no bling for you matey.”
I almost feel sorry for The Old Girl, but not that much, unlike The Young Master and Old Boy who both openly laughed like a pair of hyenas.
So on that note I shall sign off thankful The Old Girl hasn’t rationed my Fibre-Beet warming mashes which I so love on a chilly morning or cold evening.
Keep smiling
Billy Bank