After a great weekend at PUK southern winter champs, I’ve come back down to earth with a bump, as is so often the way with showing and young ponies.

The week started badly when I got back to find my naughty Dartmoor Francis (pictured right – looks like butter wouldn’t melt, doesn’t he!) had kicked on my section B, Sandy. The lump on Sandy’s leg wasn’t going down, so it was time to get the vet to have a look.

Now to most people a visit from the vet is quite straight forward, but for me it requires military organisation. As I am in London all day, I have to rely on my mum, who needs to be there to direct the vet; my yard owner, in case mum gets stuck at work; and dedication from the vet to find the yard in the depths of nowhere with no mobile phone signal. Luckily all ran smoothly and the prognosis is that he needs at least a week off (typical as he has just started to get going!), anti-inflammatory and a cream rubbed on twice a day.

So with Sandy out of action, I have been concentrating on Francis, who decided to test me out on Saturday. I got up early to ride him, but he refused to be caught. After wasting loads of time trying to get him in, I gave it up as a lost cause and went to ride Toby (my novice hack) instead, as we were taking him to the BSHA Spring South show on Sunday.

After a lovely ride on Toby, we drove across to meet Claire and Danny (section B) for a NPS clinic with Richard Telford. It was a fantastic lesson and Danny made some real progress with Richard’s help and was coping so much better working with all the others. It was particular nice to see Richard ride Danny, and he describe him as ‘a miniature warmblood’ — I hope that is a good thing!

As the heavens opened, I headed back to the farm to try once again to ride Francis. He tried it on, but I managed to herd him into the field shelter and grabbed him just before he escaped back out the door. Problem solved!

We headed off into the school and he was working brilliantly. ‘Fantastic,’ I thought, ‘we have really started to crack the walk and trot’. Of course I spoke too soon! We came back to walk and Francis decided that is enough for the day — he stops and there is no moving him. Now when he first arrived he was very nervous so I am faced with the dilemma of a: getting after him and potentially scaring him, or b: hoping he will decide to go on his own accord with a bit of encouragement. So after he had demonstrated his talent for rein back (not requested or required!), I decided to sit it out. It was a battle of wills, but after 25 minutes of sitting there in the pouring rain, he gave in and walked on.

I am pleased to say that Francis has been very good since then and we have had no planting incidents – although I am sure he will have a few more tricks up his sleeve for me in the coming weeks.

After riding Francis again on Sunday morning, my mum and I headed off to Portsmouth for the Southern BSHA with Toby. We did his first novice hack class and he finished a very credible sixth in a big class. He behaved impeccably for me and the judge, who rode everything very well. I couldn’t have asked him to go any better and fingers crossed he will carry on like this throughout the season and we will slowly start to make our way up towards the top of the line.

Until next week.