So the HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) qualifiers have been coming thick and fast for the past month or so. Thankfully mum and I always make the decision now on what shows we like and where the judges might like the ponies’ type. It’s always harder with novice ponies as often you won’t have been under a judge so have little idea on whether they will like them or not. When this is the case, I always defer to whether the show has a good food tent or not!

Leo at Lincoln

We always support our local show — South of England (SOE) — and each year I look forward to heading along and seeing lots of friendly faces. As SOE only have large breed qualifiers we had a quiet day planned with just Bam going along to contest the qualifier. Bam loves a big ring, so the county shows are often ideal for her, especially as she isn’t spooky and doesn’t get buzzed up by things. After the go round we were pulled second which I was pleased with. We were then given a set show and I was happy with Bam’s performance. It is really nice having a more seasoned pony to ride as you don’t get the panic you often have with novices about wrong leg canter strike offs, wobbles and ‘baby’ moments. But to my surprise and total delight we were called forward as winners of the class, moving up from second!

Bam

SOE is a show I’m always desperate to win as it is my local qualifier and the first place I ever picked up a HOYS ticket, but my luck hasn’t always been so great there. However for the past three years we have managed to secure a HOYS ticket and it is such a relief to get qualified early. Taking Bam back for the third year to HOYS means the world to me, especially as this will be her last year as she returns to stud at the end of the season. What an amazing mare she has been!

Bam

Lincoln was the next stop on our HOYS run, another show where I love the rings and the food tent! We decided to take Leo up there for his first big show and he didn’t disappoint. We got pulled in sixth originally after a nice go round although for me he felt a little tense at times as it was his first time in the ring with that many ponies. He came out though and gave me a lovely show, forward and light in hand. The results were called in reverse order, which always makes riders a little nervous, but to my surprise I moved up to second gaining the highest ride mark. Little Leo is certainly growing up!

Pontsteffan Safari Credit: Equipics

I then had a chance ride on Sandy Anderson’s lovely Welsh section B, Pontsteffan Safari. He is produced by Danielle Garner and what a lovely boy he is. We got pulled top after the go round but I wasn’t sure how our show would fair. It’s always hard jockeying a pony you don’t know that well as you’re not sure how much you can push, but on a wing and prayer we seemed to get through our show pretty well. The judges must have agreed as we stayed top to claim the HOYS ticket. What a lovely day — we even got a fly by from the Red Arrows in the championship! (Pictured top).

Pontsteffan Safari Credit: Equipics

I was aiming to head to Northleach the weekend after Lincoln and take Moonie out but I had to move out of my house and so ‘real life’ had to come first for once. I could imagine my partner’s face when I told him I was going to a show instead of helping to pack!

Leo at Lincoln

So after a very stressful week of packing and unpacking, box moving and cleaning we got up very early to drive to Wales. This was a new date for Monmouth and it felt weird heading there still quite early on in the season. What a lovely show it turned out to be; really social with nice rings and a great atmosphere.

Moonie

Moonie was in first which is better for him as we have worked out he isn’t so great waiting around for his class as he is still only a baby (and with a short attention span) he tends to have had enough by the afternoon. We did a lovely go round and were pulled in in no order. The show was a set one again, which flowed but was testing especially for a more novice pony. I probably didn’t ride the best show I could have — I blame it on seeing Phil Collins live the night before and only having three hours of sleep — but luck was obviously a bit on our side and we got called forward as winners. I was completely thrilled as he really is a beautiful pony who has come on in leaps and bounds. I was gutted his owners Jane and Richard Jones weren’t there to watch him as it was the first qualifier they missed, but as they said, it must have been lucky them staying away!

Moonie Credit: Tristead Photography

There wasn’t too much time for celebrations as Leo followed straight on. Again he was a good boy this time achieving highest conformation mark to be placed third. Hopefully I can have the highest ride and conformation mark together soon, but I am thrilled with him — two qualifiers and a second and third. I also had a fantastic ride on the lovely Fell, Murthwaite Windrush, who made me smile from ear to ear. He was so much fun to ride and with his gorgeous flowing mane and tail you can’t help but feel you are on some sort of unicorn! I think we finished up seventh in a great class.

Continued below…

The day finished with the championship, and after a long, hot day we then had the long, hot drive back to Kent which didn’t go too well after getting stuck getting off the show ground, then at some traffic lights that were broken and then because the bridge out was closed! Four odd hours later at 9.45pm, we arrived home, put all the ponies to bed then headed home to eat pizzas to celebrate.

It was a long day but at least it was worth it!
Chloe