This morning it was my turn to drive the little lorry to Horse of the Year Show. Luckily, that meant I didn’t have to help get the horse ready to go on board — I just turned up at 3am and off we went. It was hammering it down with rain all the way up the motorway, but thankfully it cleared up as we arrived at the NEC.
When I arrived there was a large queue to get in. Every horse who competes at HOYS has to go through a vet check on arrival to ensure they appear to be healthy, are the correct horse and that their vaccinations are up to date. The vets weren’t open when I arrived which meant a bit of a wait to be let in.
By the time I had parked up, most of the owners were already exercising their horses. I started to hay and muck out the stables; the mundane jobs still need doing even at HOYS! Then disaster struck. Fait Accobli arrived back from the warm up with one of our grooms, Jo. He really wasn’t right in himself and we suspected a touch of colic, so he wasn’t going into the class. This left Jayne without one of her favourite rides, but the team’s way of thinking is, and has always been, better to miss today and be on form next time, than push on and ruin a horse.
The cob and intermediate classes were soon over, with second and fourth placings for us in the heavyweights. There was time for some breakfast and a wander around the trade stands before getting the next set ready.
I was on maxi cob duty — we had Dylan Thomas and Bunree competing. They were groomed, chalked, hoof blacked and show sheened at the stables, then… I got my first ever ride at HOYS! OK, it was only down to the Caldene Arena (which is a 15min walk from the stables) and round the warm-up, but as I am often the ‘at home’ groom, it is something I have never done before.
After the maxis, we had a long wait for the cob championship. We went up and redid the horses’ beds and waters ready for the evening, before I grasped the opportunity to watch the accumulator show jumping and the scurry.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to drive the lorry home after all of that. Another of our drivers had arrived with tomorrow’s horses. We finally got back to the yard at around 10.30pm. With the horses put to bed, it’s time for me to hit the hay! No doubt I will find some more blisters on the way.
Don’t miss our full report on all the action from Horse of the Year Show in next Thursday’s magazine, on sale 11 October, 2012