As I think I have mentioned before, I always try to believe in the motto that good things come to those who wait – and keep trying and trying and trying… As so often seems to happen with me, my season started great, we hit a bit of dip in the middle where my luck seemed to have departed, and then, thankfully, I hung in there and it returned to me just when I needed it to.
I had the most brilliant day at the New Forest Show – one that I imagine will not be repeated for as long as I compete. I picked up not one, not two, but three HOYS tickets all in one go. My lovely Bam (pictured top, credit: 1st Class Images) started me on the roll; originally pulled fourth in a huge Welsh C class (there were so many of us that we had to be split for the go round), she really pulled out all the stops to give me a great ride in the set show. Although she had gone well, so had the three above me so I didn’t expect to be called out as the winner. I think I almost fell off with surprise! I was so pleased to get the ticket with her as we had certainly suffered a little bad luck in the previous few qualifiers she had done.
After Bam’s class I was lucky enough to be asked to ride Carla Fall’s lovely New Forest stallion Sway Mister Darcy. Unfortunately Carla had been sidelined this season after an accident, but she was keen to get him out and do a few a bits. This was the first time I had ridden him and the first time he had been out this season under saddle after fulfilling his covering duties. Darcy had won the class the previous year and with it being the ‘New Forest’ show, I did feel a little bit of pressure going into the ring. This wasn’t helped again by a fantastic huge class and then for the second time that day I was pulled in top! Thankfully Darcy didn’t let me down and he did a lovely show – well it felt nice, but Carla was too nervous to actually watch so couldn’t tell me what it looked like! As they called out the class in reverse order I was thrilled to be called forward as the winner on Darcy. Not bad for our first attempt.
Although I had already qualified two, I still had one more ride left which came in the form of Windy – Shilstone Rocks North Westerly. Windy had also been at stud this season and arrived back with me three weeks before the New Forest show to attempt to turn him around in time for the HOYS class. At home it seemed Windy had turned over a new happy leaf and he hadn’t once tried to hump me off – very unusual for him! He did a nice go round and when I got pulled in top again I just couldn’t believe it. I thought there was no way would my luck would hold out a third time. Any regular readers of my blogs will know Windy doesn’t always like to play ball – he either decides to do it, or you might as well head straight back into line. Thankfully he decided he wanted to do it and held himself together throughout his show. When I was called forward as the winner I couldn’t help but shed a little tear – finally the hard work felt like it had all paid off and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.
Not only did I collect three tickets that day, but it was my mum’s birthday as well, so I definitely felt like our team had given her a birthday to remember! Not sure how I can top that next year – or any year in the future!
With Bam and Windy now qualified, it was time to concentrate on Chief (Moelview Chieftain), who was managing to clock up some great results despite not doing many qualifiers. His favourite trick seemed to be not being pulled in and then us doing a huge climb up the line in the final results. Three times he came from nowhere to be second, which is no mean feet with such big classes. He just never lets me down – whatever the judges ask, he just does it with a smile on his face.
Will Chief join the HOYS team?
I had another great day at the National Welsh where Chief managed to pull it out the bag and win the Brynesion National Welsh Final. This is the second time he has won the final and there were a few tears shed as it was the last time he would be competing at the beautiful Malvern show ground. Bam also pulled out the stops to win her Brynesion Section C final, moving up again from third place.
August went by in a whirlwind – between competing at NPS, Equifest and judging at BSPS, I don’t think my feet touched the ground so it seemed odd when were were suddenly already at the last qualifier of the season… the dreaded Moreton! Mum and I headed up there for what we would be possibly my last ride on Chief as it was decided he would retire at the end of the year from flat showing.
In true Chief style after a good go round, we sadly got pulled nowhere in the line up. The judge had asked for a specific show again and after listening to what they wanted Chief just headed off and did exactly what they asked. Needless to say he moved right up the line and finished the season how we started… with a second!
So sadly Chief and HOYS were not meant to be this year, but he certainly doesn’t care. Although I would have loved that final ride with him in the Caldene ring, to me he has nothing to prove. He has been a joy to ride for the five years I have partnered him, always trying his best for me and I won’t ever forget our ride in the main ring championship at HOYS. I am eternally grateful to Richard and Jane from the Moelview stud, who let me ride him, and to Eleri Marshalsay, who started him off so well. I think he will be missed in the show ring as I know he has a lot of fans.
Although my time with Chief was over, I had to do a quick change onto Jo Williams’ Connemara Spinway Blackthorn, who I had been asked to ride as Jo sadly has also been sidelined after an accident. Unfortunately as Casper and myself entered the ring the heavens opened! Again the class was huge with some beautiful animals in the line up. Having never sat on Casper before I wasn’t sure how we would get on or whether he would like me, but thankfully he seemed to think I was okay and after a nice go round our show went off without a hiccup.
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As they came to announce the winners the rain was so bad that no-one could hear and I had already lost my number as it disintegrated when I was doing inhand! It didn’t help being all the way down the end either, but anyway I thought I heard my number called out and then I heard it again. ‘I won’ I said out loud, ‘that’s me’! As we headed up the line I looked round for Casper’s owners or my mum to cement my win with them, but I couldn’t see either. As I got to the top we did a quick double check and yes we had won. It was great to get outside the ring and celebrate his win properly with his owner Jo. He is a beautiful boy and I was thrilled to be asked to ride him – getting the HOYS ticket was some amazing icing on the cake!
So that draws my HOYS qualifiers to the end and what a busy season it has been. Four tickets in the opens and a junior ticket with Flute is pretty amazing. I can’t thank everyone who has helped me this season enough. Although HOYS is the dream, we have had a great year this year with friends. I got to ride at the Royal Welsh and we have been to shows we have never gone to before.
Now its rugs on, rugs off for the next two weeks! See you in Birmingham…