Top of the Morning to You,
And while today is calm, with the birds merrily singing, it’s fair to say the weather recently has been shocking! Coming from the Emerald Isle I am fairly resilient to a drop of rain but the gales have wreaked havoc with our schedule and so many competitions have been cancelled. This is really disappointing as it takes a massive amount of effort for anyone to organise and run a competition. Let’s hope blue skies stay on the horizon from now on and the sun continues to shine.
The early part of February really was a write off, competition wise for us but half term saw the Legend and I heading off to a Pony Club Rally at Askham Bryan College to be piloted by the Minnies. It is such great fun, we love it. We had a good time training over show jumps, practicing landing on the correct canter lead and maintaining a balanced round. The Legend of course, couldn’t resist putting in a few high spirited bucks but they don’t call Minnie Hehe the Limpet for nothing!
Back home The Old Girl parked Betsy, the Green Goddess, on the drive, unloaded us and tidied out the living ready for the epic trip to Moreton Morrell later in the week. I was well stuck into a warming mash of Fibre-Beet when I heard raised voices. Betsy had decided she liked her spot and wasn’t moving. The Old Boy was summoned but even he couldn’t coax her into life. Older brother arrived home from work, took a detour over the lawn, before giving The Old Girl ear ache for abandoning the lorry and blocking his route! All of us horses had a right giggle as the two of them exchanged pleasantries and The Old Girl pointed out it had not been her intention but it would appear Betsy needed some new batteries. In an uncharacteristic mode, Older Brother apologised before asking what was for tea. We might not have iPlayer or ITV Hub in the stables but we are never short of entertainment in our lives oh to be sure.
Who would have thought buying two new lorry batteries could cause so much drama, but naturally it did with the garage sending the wrong ones and then when the correct ones finally arrived there was some issue with connector. The clock was ticking and tempers fraying… Tinkerbelle, as always, kindly offered her box as a backup but The Old Boy wasn’t to be beaten and finally Betsy burst into life ready to head off to Warwickshire. The Old Girl loaded up enough provisions, human and equine, to sink a battle ship and we set sail. I was travelling on my own on this occasion, and gleaned from the conversation the humans were staying in a place appropriately called Grooms Cottage, owned by Kristen, which was very close to the competition venue, The Warwickshire College at Moreton Morrell. ‘It is far too cold to sleep in a lorry,” the words drifted back, “And Nick needs a decent night’s sleep.” That made me snort, The Young Master was already snoring and we hadn’t past Beverley. Honestly that lad can nod off anywhere. I jolly well hoped my accommodation would be up to scratch this time, a roof and door would be nice and no bonfires mid-morning thank you very much.
I wasn’t to be disappointed, the stabling at the College was first rate and the staff were so helpful welcoming us like long lost friends. The Young Master was shown where the taps, lights and mucking out tools were (a far cry from some of our previous experiences). I settled down for a quiet night with my bucket of Fibre-Beet, and then my weekend was complete. “Surprize,” called out the Minnies. Glamour Girl and Fancy Piece strode into the yard and marched into the stables next to me. Friday night was party night!
It was actually The Old Boy’s birthday so the humans retreated to Grooms Cottage, complete with a homemade cake kindly provided by the Minnies, ready for a special meal. From the conversations over heard the next morning the cottage was out of this world. Blissfully warm, beautifully decorated with every conceivable extra possible. The young team had played monopoly, and not fallen out, while the grown-ups relaxed chatting and drinking wine. I think they had all forgotten we were here for the Jump Training Final but now it was time for some action.
Fancy Piece was first up and jumped a super first round despite some rather off beat approaches from her rider! The coach had a few words with the pair before they set off for their second round. We all thought the lines were better but she clipped a fence for 4 faults. This added to her style penalties to see them finish in 10th place. Glamour Girl and I were in the next class and imagine my shock when I was greeted by “He who must be obeyed” who was the coach in charge of the warm up. With the wind whistling through the arena and the two gorgeous Irish ladies in attendance, it was all too much, I simply couldn’t contain myself and I am sorry to say I was rather self-opinionated. This resulted in some very strong words from all the support team but The Young Master had his game face on and wasn’t about to accept anything less than a double clear.
We went into indoor school, a line of anxious faces sat in the gallery…”Only kidding,” I joked on the way past but The Old Girl didn’t looked convinced. Time to knuckle down, and off I trundled, a redeemed character leaving all the coloured poles up keeping The Team sweet. Neither Glamour Girl nor I made the top 10 but I still had the Arena Eventing final to look forward to at Weston Lawns the following day and the humans had the fantastic Grooms Cottage for another night. I had heard them waxing lyrical all day about the place and how wonderful it was to go back for a hot bath and another super meal. I had my Fibre-Beet so we were all happy.
It was a windy drive to Weston Lawns and we arrived in miserable, slashing rain. “Why didn’t we stay in bed and enjoy a leisurely breakfast?” I heard the moans, giving me reason to believe the humans were all sad to leave Grooms Cottage. “You know we could have stayed longer and had Sunday Lunch?” The Old Girl told me when she put my massage pad on. “No more Tom Foolery in the warm up, my nerves can’t handle it!” I had been warned. The Young Master looked very smart wearing his new jacket provided by Jackson Handling Ltd., his most recent new sponsor. The British Horse Feed logo had been added with website details down the sleeve giving a real professional feel. I knew I had better not let the side down.
Thankfully the rain stopped and the sun made an appearance when I left the lorry. Being early in the running the collecting ring was quiet and I behaved before setting off round the show jumps, followed immediately by the cross country fences in another arena. I got into an easy rhythm and cruised round to produce a double clear. There were lots of pats and praise and then a long wait for the final result as the class had a huge entry. As is often the way with this competition it all came down to timing and I had picked up some reverse time faults for going too fast… well I wasn’t the only one and aside from the eventual winner who finished on zero, everyone else also had time penalties of some kind. Would we sneak into the prizes today? Just by the skin of our teeth we took 10th place and a very big rosette indeed.
Our journey back to Yorkshire was uneventful, the weather being kind to us. It is nice to go travelling, but nicer to come home. Don’t know if the humans would agree on that one after staying in Grooms Cottage. The question has been raised when is the next competition at Moreton Morrell so they can stay there again. However, I was glad to snuggle down in my own stable and fill The Legend in on my adventures. He has also raised the subject of could he make a comeback to the eventing scene as The Three Amigos’ could easily become the Four Musketeers? Watch this space…
March looks it is going to be a busy time, with lots of fun planned. A trip to Somerford is on the cards, some pony club arena eventing not to mention lots of dressage sessions with He Who MUST at all Times be OBEYED… I can’t wait…
Keep smiling everyone and tucking into your Fibre-Beet. Stay safe and stay sound.
Love Billy Bank xx