It was always going to end in tears. The children had been up since 4am to allow us to be at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in time for the Carrs BMW Mountain and Moorland Pony of the Year classes, and understandably they were very excited.
It was our first HOYS and my five-year-old niece’s pony Gherkin had made it in to the Dartmoor, Exmoor and Shetland final. Gherkin, or Penbryndhu Trixie Dixie as he is formally known, has come a long way in his six years.
Born on Exmoor, he ended up as a foal at the Moorland Mousie Trust, the charity set up at Capt Ronnie Wallace’s behest to help safeguard the future of the Exmoor pony.
The yearling Gherkin was given to my niece as a christening present and was sent to Fiona Harrison at Mendlesham, Suffolk, to be broken. The successful Dartmoor producer decided to taken him round a few shows to see what he’d do, and two of the most expensive years of my sister’s life started!
He did well, and two years on, that scruffy, wild colt was a shiny, well-rounded M&M class regular, appearing at his first HOYS.
As I said, the children — in their Go Gherkin Go T-shirts — were excited, but my sister was unperturbed. “Chasing them around takes my mind off the class,” she said, as we watched the two classes before Gherkin’s debut.
Then finally they were in the ring. Out of a class of 22 there were six Exmoors, including Tawbitts Mystic Maggie, who was second at the Midlands Exmoor Show last week. The competition was intense.
Debbie Harrison has ridden Gherkin almost exclusively since he was broken and as this was probably their last class — my niece has finally claimed her ride — emotions were running high.
When the pair were called in the final 11 we were all on the edge of our seats. The nine places were called in reverse order and as we got down to fifth place my heart was racing; then fourth, third, second and first.
Gherkin has come away with either the tenth or eleventh place – we don’t know which – and two of the loveliest rosettes you’ve ever seen.
I said there would be tears, but I didn’t think they’d be mine!
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