I finally got to enjoy a few quiet weeks during May, but that all ended when June arrived and the HOYS quest began! Like most of you, I’m sure I cannot believe the recent weather. There doesn’t seem a day in the past few weeks where I haven’t got up to do the ponies in the pouring rain. At least they have all got well acquainted with going through the mud and puddles.
I was absolutely gutted when the first day of Royal Windsor was called off. Jacob looked most confused when we had a nice trip around the M25 and then I got him off the lorry back at home. It was such a shame as I adore Windsor and to me it marks the start of the ‘summer’ show season.
Thankfully I got to go on the Saturday with Flute and Bam, who both performed brilliantly to finish sixth and fourth respectively. Flute has been the absolute star of the season so far. He has suddenly matured and is looking really well in himself. He shocked us all by going out and picking up his RIHS ticket at his first attempt by winning at South Suffolk and then getting reserve champion.
He then decided to go one better and won his HOYS qualifier in the new junior ridden class – partnered by the brilliant Kinvara Garner – at my favourite show South of England. This was only the third time Kinvara had ridden him and what a fantastic job she did winning the class by 10 clear points. I was so thrilled with how he behaved at the show, bearing in mind that he is still only five and bar Royal Windsor, he had never gone to a big county show. Then he amazingly stood reserve champion in the championship with all the open winners. What a day!
Leo has been enjoying a bit of time off back with me, but will soon be returning to ‘boot camp’ at Jo and Ollie’s to get ready for NPS and his novice finals.
The other week mum and I made the longish trip up to Cheshire to compete at Cheshire County. It’s a show I’ve never ridden at, even though I have judged there, and we had a fantastic day. The sun shone and I was thrilled to be reunited with Moelview Chieftain, who came out of ‘retirement’ for an outing. Although he has been busy covering mares, he felt on great form and after a fantastic go round, in a class of 29, I was a bit gutted not to be pulled in, but happily put myself near the end of the line.
The judge had set a show with canters on a straight line, which is the type of thing that suits Chief, and I thought he went pretty spot on, especially after such a long wait to do his show. I am a great believer in never give up and sometimes being down the line gives you the opportunity to just go for it. To my delight we got pulled up all the way to second, which was thrilling, but also a little gutting to just be missing out on the ticket. The championship followed straight after and I just thought ‘let’s go for it’ – to our surprise we got called forward as reserve champions! It was absolutely brilliant to get to gallop round the ring on him again and I think he really enjoyed being out again, proving he isn’t ready to retire just yet …
Bam has been having a slight up and down time, as you so often get when you hit the HOYS qualifiers. We seem to be finding one judge who likes her and the other one doesn’t, meaning I keep ending up middling the line. Sadly when we got pulled in top at Royal Norfolk the other day, Bam was anticipating rather than listening to me in our show so we got dropped. It was even more gutting as she has been going great this season, but sometimes she hasn’t been rewarded for it, but then when the judge marks fairly on way of going, we didn’t pull it off.
However many times things don’t go to plan – I’ve certainly lost a few HOYS tickets before – they still leave you feeling a bit crappy. You just want to do your show again and change something or you keep thinking if only I had done this or that, but hey it’s hardly life or death. In the grand scheme of things I am just lucky to be out there doing what I am doing and enjoying riding my pony. That is why I still always prefer novices to the HOYS circuit though, as you get caught up in this whole “it’s the end of the world if you don’t qualify” thing, but I honestly think a big part of getting to HOYS is luck. (And I’m secretly hoping Bam gets some soon!)
I also enjoyed a fantastic day judging up north at 2b. I had fantastic classes to judge and polite nice competitors, who all seemed happy to be there. Plus there was a great lunch, which is always nice when you’re standing in the ring all day. It was great to see some kids truly happy with their ponies and try their hardest – I think sometimes us adults could learn a bit from them!