So after the excitement of qualifying for Olympia, I’ve had a few weeks to come back down to earth. These weeks have involved riding in the tipping rain, trying to clean two hairy mud monsters for a winter show and keeping myself fit when I would like to be hibernating!

I was somehow convinced that it would be a good idea to take Sandy and Francis (pictured right) out to a winter show, and as I scrubbed Sandy for the 15th time I realised that ponies who live out 24/7 are not meant to be shown through the winter! So after much scrubbing, we trundled off to the show where my curly hairy ponies both behaved themselves to pick up a 4th and a 2nd.

As we don’t have many winter shows down our way, we also used the opportunity to take Pop out for a class before Olympia. Fresh from his clip, I think he felt quite well! Apart from a small blip in our in-hand show where Pop decided he didn’t want to turn back, he was very good and won his class. I am keeping my fingers crossed he agrees to turn around at Olympia or I will end up in the seats!

After getting back at 8pm and turning the ponies out in pitch black fields, I was back up at 7am to retrieve Francis for his first working hunter clinic. The clinic was organised by NPS Area 20 with teaching from the fantastic Richard Telford — I think he did as much riding from the ground!

I was in a very novice group and wasn’t quite sure how Francis would cope, but I needn’t have worried as he really seemed to enjoy himself. I had a great lesson, which even involved jumping a water tray which produced a very amusing stag-like leap on our first attempt! I’m really pleased with Francis’s recent progress and can’t wait to start doing some worker classes in the new year.

With Pop staying with us to continue on his ridden career next season, it was with a very sad heart that I decided to take Jacob back to Popsters Stud to cover some more mares next year. While it was very sad to drop him back off so soon after his return to us, I know he is quite happy to return to his ladies. Personally I can’t wait to go down next year and look at all his foals, so watch this space as I’m sure there will be a few making an appearance in the show ring over the next couple of years.

So, for the next few weeks it’s all about Pop! I don’t think I have ever been so nervous about a show. I seem to be having dreams — well nightmares — every night about all the things that can go wrong. So far they have involved me trying to get Pop to Olympia on the tube as the lorry broke down and being entered in the Shetland grand national instead of the M&M class. Please keep your fingers crossed for me so I don’t find myself doing either of these things!

Chloe