I am very thankful that after our mini panic at our lack of HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) qualifying opportunities and tickets, on the very first day of the school holidays we went to the lovely North of England Show where we had a double victory to get both Percy and Cash’s (pictured with me top) plaited WHP (working hunter pony) tickets. Percy then won the championship too, topping off a wonderful day.
This has freed our minds up for the Royal International Horse Show (RI) at Hickstead next week. There’s been a timetable change, meaning that the working hunter ponies are on Sunday, not the usual Wednesday, so instead of us being there all week, we will only be there for the weekend (and Wednesday — read on…). Few of us enjoy change of something we are used to, so this is a bit of a pity but no doubt we will get used to it.
The RI requires slightly different preparation, in that our ponies need to be fitter than they do at most WHP classes in order to jump round a track which is much further than usual. It includes a hill and clever course-building to make use of the camber in the WHP ring.
Percy has already been BE (British Eventing) this season, and he and Cash have both been going to the water treadmill while we were at school. They were also doing medium-speed canters and hill work twice a week, as well as at least four working hacks each week, and so they should be properly fit on the big day. Britt, who runs the yard at home, has worked so hard and has them both looking great, although we do sometimes wonder if they make a midnight flit together to the sweet shop as they only have to think about a bun to look like one…
Thanks to the advert for an extra pair of hands at home, we have been royally fed so far, although the poor guy who turned up as arranged was brave not to get straight back on the train and flee. This is because mummy greeted him very warmly, not realising that her shirt was completely undone, and as she had mislaid her own bra, she had forced herself into mine which gave her rather a show-girl look. You can’t imagine the embarrassment.
We have another excitement at home, in the very beautiful form of a 13hh show hunter pony. Part princess pony with dapples and white stockings, part rocking horse with a magical canter, Sandy is lodging with us on her way from Scotland to the RI. Here she will be ridden by her 11 year old owner Abbie Stewart at the suggestion of Sandy’s devoted Irish breeder Lisa Donnen, who is coming over to watch them at Hickstead.
We have all fallen completely in love with Sandy, who also qualified as a working hunter pony although she is not going to take that up this year. Abbie has done a beautiful job with her, and Susie and I are a little weary of mummy telling us to “warm up like Abbie” for whom this will be a first, so we are looking forward to making it a very fun day for her to look back on.
Sending very good luck to you all for the Royal International!