It’s been the most amazing few weeks since my last blog — I have to admit I am still on cloud 9!

Having qualified the Jones’ Welsh section B Moelview Chieftain (aka Chief) for HOYS on Thursday, I was up bright and early on Wednesday morning to go and cheer on my friends who were competing in other classes. Then I took Chief into the Wednesday evening warm-up to give him a look around. After working well, we decided not to get up before dawn the following morning for another warm-up session as his class wasn’t until 3.15pm.

It was a weird thing waking up late at HOYS instead of the usual 4am! We got up in time to watch my auntie, who was competing in the private driving classes in the morning. After a leisurely morning and a well planned warm-up, which involved lunging in the very last outdoor slot and me sneaking into the horse warm up (!), we were on and for once I was actually early.

Chief felt great in the ring and I managed to do my show in the 1st section, which meant it was over and done with. As usual the show was over so quick, but I was pleased with our performance, which allowed me to concentrate on the conformation part. Going back in for the presentation, I was hoping to stay in the top 11 so was so thrilled when my number was called out.

Next came the nerve wracking bit — placings in reverse order. When they got to about 5th I began to think perhaps I hadn’t been placed, as more and more of the top ponies came forward. I couldn’t believe it when I was called forward into 2nd. Finally I would get to ride in the evening championship after years of trying and near misses! What a brilliant pony Chief is — there were definitely a few tears shed.

Moelview Chieftain at HOYS. Picture by Helen Whiteley

Moelview Chieftain at HOYS. Picture by Helen Whiteley

Going into the evening performance was just an amazing experience and Chief, although tired, performed his socks off. To ride in the main arena in the championship really is what dreams are made off. To be there with so many friends supporting me and my auntie cheering very loudly made it even more special. It was a very proud moment for me especially as it was only my 7th ride on him so we didn’t do bad!

Huge thanks go to Jane and Richard Jones from Moelview Stud, who produced him to perfection. I’m not sure many other ponies did their HOYS prep by avoiding bulls in the field!

Off to BSPS Heritage Championships

Following an amazing HOYS, the next weekend I was at the BSPS Heritage Champs vying for that golden ticket to Olympia Horse Show. Mum and I took Pop (Popsters Debutante, Welsh section C) up late on the Friday night arriving around 11pm. We were up early the next day as Lynda Calcutt’s Dartmoor Windy (Shilstone Rocks North Westerly) was in his Olympia semi-final qualifier at 8am, plus with Pop living out 24/7 I needed time to wash, clip and trim him! The dark mornings and evenings have made this impossible to do at home around working full-time.

The semi qualifier has Shetlands, Dartmoors and Exmoors in it and to qualify for Olympia you need to be in the top 3. Having not been at HOYS, Windy was feeling fresh and looked fab, but I knew it was going to be hard to get into those all important spots. After a good show I sat through the agonising reverse countdown again. When they pulled forward 2nd without calling my number, I thought I hadn’t even placed. But then they announced ‘our champion goes to a Dartmoor pony’, so my ears pricked up… We had only gone and got our ticket to the best Christmas show!

Shilstone Rocks North Westerly. Picture by Equinational

Shilstone Rocks North Westerly collects his Olympia ticket. Photo: Equinational

There were huge cheers from the ringside as Ollie [Oliver Burchell, who produces Windy], Lynda and my mum jumped around celebrating. I just couldn’t believe it. I was so stunned, and even more so when the judges commented I was the clear winner! I always knew Windy was fab, but never thought I would break my run of blues this year. If I had put a bet on, I’m sure I would have been 4th…

So at 9am in the morning we cracked open the champagne in celebration (pictured top) and Windy enjoyed a glass or 2 as well. If my weekend had ended there that would have been enough, but I had the luck with me and I went on to win the restricted class with Pops, who has only been back with me for a few weeks.  Not content with that, he then came 2nd in the breed Olympia qualifier, just missing out on his Olympia ticket. Not bad for a hairy mud monster! And my baby New Forest Sabinas Stormy Fellow (aka Warwick) finished 3rd in his breed Olympia qualifier — a fantastic result for such a young pony. What a weekend!

I think the last few weeks are just starting to sink in and I can’t believe how lucky I have been. Now I just need to find my Christmas tie in time for Olympia…

Chloe