The day of Pop’s first show dawned, and I was… hungover. This was actually quite a good thing as at least I didn’t have any nerves!

Pop has had a relatively slow start, as he was very nervous when he first arrived. Ollie and Jo have spent a lot of time getting him use to life so we were thrilled when he was ready for his first show. We choose his first outing carefully so we could give him a nice quiet experience, but typically, there were nine entered in his novice class rather than the two I was hoping for!

After a look around the showground, Ollie legged me up and we headed off to warm up. I always think if a youngster can cope with the working-in, then they will be fine in the ring as at least then they are all going the same way! After a quick trot round lead-rein style, we were away and I was thrilled with how he took everything in his stride. He worked in really nicely then stood around taking in the atmosphere. He only got a little bit tense when my friend’s section A followed us round the warm-up blowing and snorting — he will have to get use to this ready for when he is in the ring with the section Ds!

We went into the ring and he performed like a schoolmaster. He didn’t look at anything and to my amazement we got pulled in top — I don’t know who looked more nervous, my mum or Jo. Having only been working in the school for a month or so, Pop is still quite wobbly in his way of going, but he produced the most foot-perfect show as if he had done it all his life! I was totally shocked. He won the class, took his rosette with no problem and did a little lap of honour. To say I was thrilled was an understatement. Then we went back into the ring and stood novice champion in a really strong championship class.

By this point we had got a little carried away with how well he was doing, and decided to do the open/restricted class as well. As there were HOYS ponies in the class, I just thought we would have a nice ride around. Then I got pulled in top — I expect my face was a picture! By this point Pop was pretty tired, and we struck off on the wrong leg in our show, which dropped us to second place in the open, but we still won the restricted. To be honest we could have finished last for all I cared — I was just so delighted with how he behaved. Then it was back in the ring for the championship, where he mustered the last of his energy to stand reserve champion to Major (the Highland I rode a bit last year) with his owner Sophie Cumbers, who was having her first outing on him this year.

It was a fabulous end to a fantastic day. I really couldn’t believe how well he coped with everything and what a fun day we had had. I’m now really looking forward to starting the season properly with him, especially as he seemed to enjoy his trip out so much and we had some lovely comments about him. Fingers crossed it wasn’t a total fluke!

Sadly this blog must also mention the sad loss of a good friend and great horsewoman, Julia Kerslake, who battled so bravely against cancer. I will always treasure the last text she sent me and the words she said. My thoughts go out to her children and family and I know many of us were so thrilled to see her make that last journey to our area show. Rest in peace, Julia.

Chloe

Picture courtesy of Spidge Photography.