Billy Bank’s Blog – Leprechauns and Scorching Heat

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Top of the morning to you, July has been a roller coaster of a ride that’s for sure!
The Pony Club team competitions have come thick and fast with our branch having some great results. After our success qualifying for the Open Showjumping Championships I was below par suffering from a rather nasty attack of hives. The Old Girl (TOG) had been very concerned at the length of time my recovery had taken and spoke to various experts. Given she already shovels electrolytes into us all and is hyper about hydration, sloppy Fibre-Beet being so good for that, it was decided I needed a tonic! A pint of Guinness would do the trick nicely but that didn’t happen.
As a preparation for the Area 3 Horse Trials a small group of us from the York & Ainsty Pony Club travelled to Leicestershire to attend the Fernie Pony Club One Day Event. What a cracking event it was, held at Rolleston Hall. We stayed overnight with a lovely lady called Julia who made us feel very welcome indeed and I arrived the next morning very relaxed ready to face anything.
The Young Master and I have been exorcising the dressage demons with help from a High Priestess. The oldest friend of TOG came for a day recently and dispensed her wisdom, bestowing on us many relaxation techniques designed to vanquish all leprechauns from anywhere near a dressage arena… And boy did they work! We produced a super, soft relaxed test earning a mightily improved score of 27.5. Clear round the show jumping and we were looking forward to tackling the cross country.
It was a scorching day but the Fernie had thought of everything with water tanks at the end of the XC so we could quickly be washed off and cooled down. We were kept waiting at the start when the course was held due to other competitors parting company with their mounts. Maybe the leprechauns were at play?
The Young Master and I were flying, quickly through the water and over the bogey fence at 12, home was in sight when the Young Master pulled me up. “What the devil?” I thought then over the tanoy I heard he’d missed a fence!! Gutted doesn’t really cover it but TOG put a positive spin on it, good dressage, clear SJ and the fitness had been spot on as despite the heat, I was full of running. Hopefully next weekend at Northallerton things would go to plan.
The Legend told me Northallerton has not been a happy hunting ground for The Young Master in the past. “The one and only time the Lad fell off the Matriarch was there in a style competition” he snorted through his Fibre-Beet.
In order to beat the heat we travelled up the night before and stayed with Barcardi, Charlotte’s horse. Another lovely stable on a big yard, I am enjoying these mini breaks. However I was concerned in the morning when the Young Master turned up looking green. He seemed to have contracted some sort of bug and kept disappearing into the bushes. He was one sick boy!
Down at the dressage warm up we pottered about, despite only a couple hours of sleep in the morning our Lad was determined to ride and not let the team down. Our test was going swimmingly until a leprechaun appeared from nowhere, bit me in the belly and shouted some very rude language. I couldn’t contain myself, bucking violently in the canter movement and giving chase. Suddenly, I remembered my ill jockey, “Oh Mary, was he still on board?” Thankfully he was and we trotted down the centre line to finish.
It was a quick dash to the show jumping and then onto the XC. With only three in our team it was vital we all got round clear. Barcardi and I have done a few competitions at this level but Bumble was new to this height and relatively inexperienced.
It was a great round, even though I say it myself and we sailed through the finish with time in hand. TOG was ecstatic, washing me off while we waited for the others to appear. 
The three of us had done it, all clear XC. Now we would just have to see where we had ended up on the leader board.
Word filtered back to the lorry the team had qualified for the championships with individual placings for Barcardi and me too. What a day… we won’t forget that in a hurry.
Then it was onto Frickley for a BE100. Thunder rumbled round the place while I warmed up for dressage. Oh how sweet the rain felt when it started to fall just before my test but by the time I halted at G the rain had stopped. My test felt good, no sign of leprechauns and the judge really liked me with a 29. Another clear show jumping meant we had it all to play for on the XC.
I was flying… it was my downfall… The corner at 16 needed more respect and I sailed past it twice… Nothing wrong with my fitness, TOG tried to put a positive spin on the initial disappointment. The Young Master and I had become too carried away with ourselves. A hard lesson learnt!
We quickly move on and Pony Club camp starts today, lots of fun (and angled jumping practice I suspect) and lots of laughs while learning lots.
There is a rumour I am taking part in some sort of “Strictly Come Dancing” dressage competition so catch up next month to see how The Young Master and I fared. I just hope no one expects me to wear a sequin shirt!!
Keep smiling!
Billy Bank