Very late on a Thursday night before Easter, I jumped on the Southampton to Grantham train to head up to the BSPS Winter Champs. Pop had already arrived in the baking heat with the rest of the team and I was hoping he would be able to cope with his first big stay-away show. As often seems the case with Pop, I needn’t have worried.

After arriving at Grantham train station at 11pm, I was up bright and early for my 8am class: the winter restricted final. As you would expect at a championship show, there were some lovely ponies in the class and most had much more experienced than Pop, so I was just hoping to make it into the top 10 who go through to the evening performance.

I could tell Pop was slightly more nervous than usual warming up, but when he got into the ring he didn’t put a hoof out of place. He did a lovely show with no spooking or wrong legs — I couldn’t have asked for more — so I was very pleased to be called forward for the evening final placings.

After a few hours break in the sun and some grass for Pop, we headed indoors for the novice ridden final. Once again Pop was spot-on in the spooky ring and made the top 10. So that was a second evening performances to look forward to.

With Pop only having been to a handful of shows, we weren’t too sure how he would cope with the buzz of the evening, but off he went without batting an eyelid at the horn, music or lights. First was the novice class and we lined-up waiting to be placed in reverse order. We ended up being fifth, which was great. The buzz of standing in line waiting to be placed never changes no matter how many times you do it!

A quick change of bridle and we were off for the restricted presentation. They started to call the placings out. When they got to fifth I thought ‘great, we have beaten our novice position’. Then we were down to the top three — I was so pleased and couldn’t quite believe it — then second, ‘this must be me, I would never win’ I thought, but finally we were called forard into the spotlight. I couldn’t quite believe it as looked over to our delighted team and my shell-shocked mum.

Off we went on our lap of honour, leading the way and then enjoyed one all by ourselves. I think we were all in shock and Pop had no idea what he had done, so we popped him back in stable to wait for the championship, which was the last class of the evening.

When it came to the championship, I was just planning to enjoy it as there were some fabulous ponies in there. The judges didn’t seem to deliberate very long. The reverse was called forward and then Pop was chosen as champion — not only did he win his class, he went all the way! To say I was thrilled was an understatement. He collected his first ever sash, taking it all in his stride, and off we went again for another lap of honour with ‘Simply the Best’ playing in the background.

The next day Pop was entered in the RIHS qualifier class and I expected it would be down to earth with a bump, but it seemed Pop had other ideas. We were pulled second in a huge huge class full of fantastic seasoned ponies. Pop did a nice show, but he was a bit tired after his evening performances the previous night and he still needs time to mature in his body compared to the open ponies. We ended up fourth, which was a great placing in such good company, and it really topped off a fantastic Winter Champs.

We really couldn’t have had a nicer time; Pop couldn’t have tried harder and we all left with big smiles on our faces, while I was clutching some beautiful rosettes — something I haven’t done for quite a while now! I am a very proud mum.

Chloe