Hovis’ Friday diary: ‘Burghley here I come!’

  • Dear Diary

    What can I say? Burghley here I come! Very nearly “Burghley here I come after visiting mum in jail” after she nearly bopped a woman on the nose on Sunday but more on that in a minute…

    So drum roll please for this hairy, feathered beast with the “turning circle of the QE2” (thanks mother) in a class of 24 thoroughbreds and warmbloods came 3RD! So to the woman who turned to her friend and sneered “OMG there’s a [insert rude word] shire horse on the course now” — boo sucks to you! And be grateful my mother is getting more restrained in her old age — a few years back you’d have been sporting a sore nose as well as an unsporting attitude…

    But sneery ladies aside, I had an absolute BALL!

    The night before the event mum had spent hours washing me within an inch of my life and had left muttering about my need to levitate all night to avoid staining my now pristine white legs. I’m pretty sure Aunty Becky didn’t mention my failure to comply with those instructions as I’m sure she’s not a snitch. Ooops.

    Anyway, we hacked up to the course and I may have got a tad overexcited because I just knew we were going to go competing. How? Because a) I’m obviously a highly intelligent equine with a talent for witty prose and b) because for once Aunty Becky was nearly doing as good an impression of Poof the Magic Dragon as mum does when she’s scared and we’re competing.

    By the time we’d got up there I might have been a bit sweaty and prancy. Just a tiny bit. I can however say that Aunty Becky’s descriptions of me in the warm up were a little “embellished” and I wasn’t running about like a hyper-charged steam train with no brakes and not a huge amount of steerage. I can neither confirm nor deny any near collisions, but if you are a 17.2hh dark bay thoroughbred who nearly had a new job as my own personal balaclava on Sunday I do apologise…

    Clearly sensing that we needed to calm down Aunty Becky took me off to a corner of the field where we studied the course and I tried to pull the little yellow mare. Once again I must confess to being utterly confused by women — every time I tried to kiss her she tried to kill me but when I walked away from her she whinnied and tried to get back to me. Girls are odd. Fact.

    Whilst we were stood mooching, mother arrived and much cuddling and pep talks given. Clearly the cuddling was for me and the pep talks were for Aunty Becky because I did not need to be told I’d be fine and to behave. Honest.

    Our time came and despite everyone telling Aunty Becky she’d be fine she was starting to sound a tad like an asthmatic on a treadmill. Sensing thus that our partnership needed a firm hoof, I ignored all attempts at a gentle trot and took off around the course as if a talent scout for the Grand National was watching. For about a quarter of the way, Aunty Becky clearly thought a couple of weetabix for breakfast was going to give her the strength to win a battle for supremacy on setting the speed but since the girl probably weighs less than one of my legs, she was never ever going to win.

    Once she’d stopped trying to pull me up and just went with it, all went brilliantly well. I could hear the commentator telling people about my fame and general brilliance so I stepped up my game as we screeched around the timed section in front of a shell-shocked looking crowd. People I may be big, I may be feathered but I can fly when I want to and boy did I want to. We eventually pulled up on the other side of the timers with a triumphant but exhausted Aunty Becky clinging around my neck like a deflated lilo.


    After that, many people came up to say hello to me and say they knew who I was. The little yellow mare completed the course and we began to come up with our tactics for the next class — the pairs. Alas the show was running very slowly so we had a fair wait for the pair’s class. Time I took to eat, drink, perve at admire the girls and accept polos and compliments. All in all the only way it could have been better was if there’d been an ice-cream van and mother could have been convinced I for once deserved a Mr Whippy of the edible kind. Maybe I should send a request for one next time?

    Anyway, the time came for our pair’s class and after mum had delivered another pep talk (one I shall remind her of next times she’s making whimpering noises and nearly weeing herself before a class) we set off.

    Now I admit by this stage to being a tad pooped, the little yellow mare was equally tired and my canter stride is about 4 times bigger than hers. Members of my Facebook group will have seen the photos and appreciate we do look a tad odd as a couple. But we tried and, despite Aunty Becky and I having a minor disagreement about the best route over a set of evil looking tyres, the mare hating a little blue fence and then the humans nearly forgetting the fence order in the timed section, it went well.

    Unlike my earlier attempt, the timed section was more of a steady stroll rather than an earth moving display of feather power but still we got round it. Any comments by the commenter about the difference in our heights or the fact you could hear me before you saw me were received with a frosty glare. Or as frosty a glare as I could manage with sweat trickling from my eyebrows, my feathers and off my nose. It’s fair to say we were both cream crackered.

    Mum was over the moon and Aunty Becky (despite protests her arms were two foot longer) was elated. She chose that moment to break it to me what it was her first ever cross-country competition at which point I did pointedly attempt to stand on mum’s toes for not even providing me with L plates to wear. The good news is because a) I didn’t kill her b) she didn’t fall off and c) because I was rather good she wants to do some more.  Yippee!

    The final surprise of the day came though when the results were announced, I’m not sure who was more shocked;  the announcer, Aunty Becky or the snooty warmblood owners pondering how they got thrashed by a cart horse. Score one for the heavies baby! We missed out on a place in the regional finals by 0.4 of a second, which is gutting but not bad for our partnership’s first outing.  There’s always next time.

    Soooo I’m wondering people. Now I’ve proven I’m not all mouth and no feathers, since Mr Fox-in-a-hole and co haven’t called yet and since we’re fellow Horse & Hound “bloggers” what do you think are the chances of persuading Mr Hot Toddy to take me for a spin? If I can come 3rd with my learner Aunty B think what I could do with a proper rider (and no, I do NOT mean mother).

    Someone ask him for me?  Please?



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