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Write to Ride, Heidi Woodhead and all things Billy Bank

Top of the Morning to you all,

And how glorious it is too, we are all so thankful to be staying well and now beginning to enjoy life as restrictions ease and we head back towards normality. Normality in this household! What's that? Getting up at 4am to head off to horse trials, most folk would think we were bonkers but that's how we roll. Talking of rolling The Legend, bless his sense of humour, having been disturbed at 4am for an early breakfast recently decided he would let himself out (once he'd eaten up his Fibre-Beet of course) and headed off into the middle of the lawn. If that wasn't bad enough he dug a nice big hole and rolled in the muddy patch and then took off across the wheat field with The Old Girl in hot pursuit... she had the last laugh though giving him a bath and cold shower as he was heading off for a pony club cross country session whilst Glamour Girl and I went to Frickley Park Horse Trials. What a great weekend we had at our second event of the season. It was super competitive in all sections and I posted a sub 30 dressage! Oh yes, all the training with He Who Must be Obeyed is becoming second nature, I even stand square in the stable these days and move my hind legs underneath me when halting at a junction out hacking. The Young Master had his game face on all day and was most insistent in all three phases resulting in a double clear with just a few annoying time penalties which kept us just out of the top ten in our first BE 100 of the season. Glamour Girl and Minnie Haha went a place better in the BE90 to finish 10th posting a good dressage and double clear. With the sun out all day we were both glad of the sloppy Fibre-Beet between phases which kept us well hydrated and feeling fresh.


News filtered across from the pony club training that The Legend had belied his age, 23 now, by giving leads to the less confident and unable to contain his excitement at being on a cross country course again had zipped off up the hill like Usain Bolt! The British Horse Feeds Cooked Linseed which is now part of his regular diet is clearly helping to support his joints and tendons not to mention giving him a super shiny coat, the old boy has never looked better and plans have been made for him to return to the eventing scene with us... keep reading this blog for more details next month...

The following day it was the turn of the young thrusters at Frickley , Minnie Hehe and Fancy Piece along with Barney Big Belly and Babyface who were making their BE debut. With my feet up, classic FM playing softly in the background, I keenly awaited news. A competitive dressage from Fancy Piece and a polished double clear put her in 7th place in the BE80 and a nod from The Old Girl that the pair are ready now to move up a level. In a sport where mistakes can literally break you, and more importantly your precious horse, to pays to be cautious and consolidated at one level before moving up. The newbies also didn't disgrace themselves, a respectable test and double clear with some time penalties put them mid-way in a big section and keen to have another run soon.

Some of you might be wondering what happened at our first event of the season, Aske Hall, up in North Yorkshire. The Old Girl worried as usual about fitness and lack of match practice entered us in the BE90, which was a good decision as the terrain up there was pretty hilly. Travelling up with Glamour Girl on board the humans were all slightly concerned about how the event would run 'behind closed doors' because of course the virus is still around and BE are doing everything possible to run events but with precautions in place (quite rightly to). Apart from the lack of commentary on the cross county and the lack of spectators nothing seemed much different, The Old Girl sported a pair of gloves to put the practice fences up and there were lots of hand sanitizers around the place which could easily have housed Goblins so I gave them a wide berth! It did feel good to be out again, with the grass under my feet as I danced down the centre line. In the next arena I could see Glamour Girl, as always the professional doing a beautiful job between the white boards, naturally I called out 'well done' to her which irked the Young Master into growling at me. Can't think why? With no scoreboards and lack of Wi-Fi, texts from the outside world informed us of our scores which were really quite respectable! Double clears meant we held our places and it wasn't until we were on route home we realised Glamour Girl had won her section and I was second in mine! The Old Girl was beyond delighted even more so when 'He who must be obeyed' told her we had won prize money. That is unheard of, we normally receive a bucket!

Good results don't just happen, it is all down to training and good stockmanship. The Old Girl and The Young Master work hard to keep our diets and work programmes up to speed and constantly review what can be improved and worked on. The weather has been challenging recently, one minute freezing cold then boiling hot along with sudden downpours. Fibre-Beet is such a great asset for any feed room. It provides slow release energy, help keeps condition on and what the Old Girl really loves is the hydrating properties it offers. We always have sloppy Fibre-Beet to drink between phases at events to keep us on tip top form.

Other exciting news was the announcement of the Pony Club Write to Ride competition winners. The Old Girl had helped to organise this competition, which saw over 450 entries from all over the country. The standard was incredibly high giving the judges a real headache having to choose the best. The winner of my prize, a day out with us at an event when restrictions lift, for the best poem went to Pony Club Centre member Amelie Peters from Naburn Grange Riding School. She wrote about her favourite pony Bilbo, who sounds like a great character. We can't wait to meet Amelie and introduce her to everyone at Team Billy Bank.

British Horse Feeds sponsored rider Heidi Woodhead and her husband Ian of team DHI competition horses generously gave up their time too providing a great prize for Sarah Farnsworth from the Lauderdale Pony Club. Sarah travelled down from Scotland to enjoy a cross country lesson with Heidi and a dressage session from Ian which really helped her chances at Aske Horse Trials, where she finished 2nd in the BE100 class. The rosettes from British Horse Feeds were much coveted in the write to ride competition and I am sure will become treasured possessions. The Old Girl was over whelmed by the kindness from so many top coaches, trainers, businesses and professionals who supported this competition by donating their time and goods so generously. Many struggling charities have benefited from the donations entrants made in lieu of an entry fee.

Let's hope everyone stays well and we can beat this virus. If we stay alert and follow guidelines I am sure life will return to normal soon. We have lots of exciting plans but you will have to read my next blog to find out what we have been up to, but suffice to say it includes us all at Team Billy Bank!

Keep smiling everyone,

Best wishes

Billy Bank x