I can’t believe that Christmas is already over and that we are starting to think about the 2017 season. I am very sorry about the lack of blogs recently, but riding-wise I have been doing very little, which doesn’t make for particularly interesting reading. However, because I’m seemingly so unoccupied in the eyes of my mother and sister (not true), I thought I’d tell you about one of the countless things they’ve recently roped me into doing instead.
My sister, Susie, has been working really hard during the holidays with her two ponies, Percy and Lenny, both at home and at various schooling competitions. I have mainly been uninvolved in these commitments, bar making the occasional grave error of going with them to help.
Just a couple of days ago, as I was sitting down in full academic mode to start a French essay, my mother asked me if I was going to be busy that day. Now, I have come to learn that this single phrase is a major warning sign and I would advise you to watch out for it. I tried to keep calm, knowing what was coming, and replied that actually yes, I was planning to do some work. She said that she and Susie were going showjumping with two ponies that afternoon on a very tight schedule, and that she thought I should have a bit of fresh air. Warning sign number two. I said that that sounded nice. She continued, it’s usually a killer when they go with two ponies both in two classes with no help. Warning sign number three. I sympathised and told her I could imagine. She asked me when my work was due to be handed in by. Warning number four. I said next week, when I go back to school. She said that the thing is, if I went with her to the showjumping, she would do the ponies with Susie that afternoon and let me off, so I would end up with more time to do my essay. Now we’re in the danger zone. I asked her politely how that worked out. She said that they were always the only ones who went to the showjumping at the place they were going, so they would only be there for an hour max — last time there were only two other people there. At this point Susie piped up and confirmed that, yes, it was always deserted and was over very quickly. And so I was a goner.
I’m not sure what I thought she meant by “this afternoon”, but I certainly didn’t expect for her, at 10.30 am, just as we had finished the conversation above, to suddenly look at the clock, shriek, and announce in an urgent tone that we needed to be gone in half an hour. (What she actually shrilled, which can be interpreted as a sign of urgency, is: “Go in Haste to Serve the Lord!” By which she means, serve her). Having brought the ponies in (who we had only put out moments before) we managed, incredibly, to leave only five minutes late; a record for the Eddis’, and arrived there with half an hour before Susie’s first class. Perfect.
Except it wasn’t, because, for supposedly the first time in history, the place was absolutely jam packed. So much so that we could barely find a parking space, and they had only just started class three (the 80cm) meaning we had hours to wait. The only consolation offered to me was: “I just can’t believe it, it’s never been like this before, has it Suze?” to which Susie merely responded that I was very silly not to have taken any work with me. This did nothing to soothe my mood and instead I became more angry at the notion that I was the stupid one not to bring something with me to fill the time, when I had been solemnly promised that it would be a great rush as we would certainly be the only ones there.
We decided to waste away the time in the cafe, where the tension that was already among us (and which both my companions seemed blissfully unaware of) took a turn for the worse. As we sat down in seats that had a view over the indoor arena, Susie’s face, as it always does, turned ashen as she looked down on a course no bigger than a cradle stakes and said: “Oh goodness, it looks huge. How big do you think mine will be mummy?”. Mummy, who apparently has to deal with this on a regular basis, replied calmly: “Well you’re doing the metre”. Susie waited a couple of minutes before asking again: “But how big will it be?”. Mummy managed to maintain a balanced tone of voice to repeat: “It’s going to be one metre”. Silence again, before a few moments later: “How big do you think it will be though?”. Mummy gets a bit more irritable now: “It’s going to be a metre, Susie. I can’t describe it any more clearly than that”. Silence. “OK, just checking”.
I endured this conversation, which carried on in exactly the same fashion with Susie, fully dressed, ready for HOYS as she is all day, every day, gloves on and clutching her trusty Bebb-whip, repeating very regularly: “Will it be big though?” for no less than an hour-and-a-half, the only interruption being when she ordered a cheese toastie, but then couldn’t eat it because she didn’t like the texture of the cheese, which caused yet more irritation.
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Once the class was upon us, I have to admit that it was all over quite quickly (partially due to a win from Susie on Percy, which did wonders for lightening our spirits), and the show did actually empty out quite considerably (which produced a few knowing glances in my direction after all my whinging). However, after the traumatic lead up and the 5.30pm return home, I am determined that it will be my last one as a groom.
Needless to say, mummy and Susie seem undeterred and are busily preparing for their next one, so I’m glad that they find it less emotionally draining than I do. I, on the other hand, am quite looking forward to getting back to school, where I can guarantee that I will not be pestered once to go on a “healthy day out”.
I hope your Christmas break has been more relaxing than mine and send best wishes for a happy and successful 2017.