So the day before Olympia dawned and I think I had slightly underestimated how much I had left myself to do. After a quick ride out, it was down to business which meant mane and tail pulling, face and ear trimming and then finally bathing — along with packing up the lorry! It took me a fair while to get Jacob transformed from mud monster into something more ready for Olympia, especially as my winter bathing routine involves a lot of kettles. Oh to have a hot water shower!
After getting Jacob ready, I headed back into London to work for half the day leaving mum in charge of rug changing. We weren’t going up the night before, but most of the senior ponies were already there so I headed along to Olympia to meet everyone. I also collected my lovely jacket and trophy just for being a finalist. Looking around the arena, it all started to feel really real.
So at 4am the next morning we started our nervous journey into London. I have ridden at Olympia before, but never have I felt as nervous as I did last Friday. I just wanted to make it up there in one piece and get into the ring! We had a great drive through London and arrived at Olympia before 6am. I unloaded Jacob and put him into his stable. Once he realised there was nothing to rub on, he soon settled down to eat and was totally unexcited by it all.
I know everyone says it, but there really is nothing like Olympia. When you get up there it is just so exciting and it really dawns on you what a special experience it is. It is fantastic to be able to show your veteran at Olympia and I can’t thank the Senior Showing society enough for putting on these classes and encouraging people to enjoy their veterans.
As Jacob was in-hand there wasn’t to much to do but keep him clean, but I did take him into the arena for a quick trot round so he could get any coughs and sneezes out his system. It was then I realised just how far it was to run around the arena! We had been given a set show to do so after our little warm up I had a quick study to make sure I knew what I was doing. I would be last in as Jacob was the smallest, but that meant first to do the in-hand stage so no room for not know what I was doing.
So then all there was left to do was get ready! Jacob’s breeder Justin came all the way down from Gloucestershire to see him so I was hoping Jacob would be on good form. After a lot of sprucing, whitening of socks and oiling we were ready to go — even I looked clean for once.
We entered the arena and Jacob was as cool as anything. Our first trot went without any problems. If anything he was probably a bit too quiet and then we were quickly put into line. Jacob and I went off to do our in-hand bit first, which again went fine and then it was the nerve wracking wait to do our own show. All the ponies in the ring looked and were going fantastic so I started to feel even more nervous in case we were the first to do something wrong!
After what felt like a long wait, we were out in front of the judge for our turn. Jacob didn’t disappoint me and trotted the whole way around the arena like a pro. Then that was it — we came to our halt and it was over. We had done all we could. We returned to line to wait the final results.
They were doing the final results in reverse order, so it is that weird feeling when you are stood there hoping not to hear your number called. I was hoping to be in the top six so when we made it into the top five I was already really thrilled. Jacob is a relative youngster in the veteran class being 16 so I knew we would have to go some to get near the top, especially as there were so many beautiful horses in the class in their 20s. When I wasn’t 5th, I was thrilled and when they called 4th forward I couldn’t believe my luck!
I looked at the last three standing: Jacob, the most beautiful Highland and an equally stunning Section D mare, both of who were in their 20s and just looked amazing. When they called me forward into third I couldn’t have been happier. We had done it. It had been a long and often testing journey, but after many failed attempts Jacob and I had made it to Olympia and come third!
As we did our lap of honour Jacob couldn’t help but get a little excited following the mare in front and produced the most fantastic trot — which I was struggling to keep up with him. I was so proud. In my opinion he looked a million dollars and was, most importantly, throughly enjoying himself.
He truly is a one-in-a-million pony and whether we make it to Olympia again or not, I will never forget this trip there. Thanks to everyone who has helped along the way and coped with my constant worrying and questions! Now I can finally think about Christmas and Jacob can have a well deserved roll in the mud!