Dear Diary,

I’m the happiest Hovis on the planet right now. So happy I might burst and shower you all with bits of feather and fun. Why you might ask? Because after a year off, a LOT of money and mother doing a LOT of crying I’m finally back where I belong; cavorting around a cross-country course in a carefree canter.

I knew we were definitely “a go” when I only did some very light schooling on Friday and then mum bathed me within an inch of my life on Saturday. My feathers were so white I could probably have been seen from space which was possibly a good thing when Sunday dawned so foggy that we couldn’t even see the end of the barn.

The foreign dude had kindly lent me his executive transport since mother had sold ours when the mini mother arrived, so I got to arrive in style: lorry, posh black travel boots and my fab NAF thermatex. Mum said in the right light I almost looked professional. I restrained myself from kicking her. Cheeky witch.

As I am a celebrity I got a stable up at the venue (the vicious rumour this was because Aunty Becky was helping out after her class and needed somewhere to “dump” me was started by a couple of jealous warmbloods) so I got tacked up in private away from prying eyes.

Now I also need to clear up a few facts before I launch into a blow by blow account of my brilliance.

1. I was NOT rampaging around the warm-up ring like a feathered Ferrari with no brakes, no steering and zero control. I was WARMING UP. Admittedly it might have looked to the untrained eye like I was tanking about with Aunty Becky clinging on for dear life but I can assure you her screaming “Whhoooaaaa!” at me is quite normal.

2. I was NOT over jumping the practice jumps by 2ft and thus nearly sending Aunty Becky into outer orbit. It was very hard to judge height in the thick fog and so I was giving them sufficient clearance. In the process if I tested Aunty Becky’s seat then that was just me being very health and safety minded.

3. We did not have a steering and brake malfunction leading to me nearly crashing through an electric fence into a neighbouring field. I thought I saw a mole in distress and ran to the rescue. On closer high speed inspection it turned out to be a small poo but what can I say? It was very foggy.

4. Mum did NOT have to come and growl at the pair of us at any point and I did NOT make goo goo eyes at every other horse at the event. I have standards. Ensuring they have a pulse is a standard…

Anyway by the time we’d warmed up the fog had come down so thickly that seeing anything beyond the end of our noses was going to be a challenge. Aunty Becky had a bit of a brain fart and suddenly couldn’t remember the course so kept lecturing me about there being eight fences in the timed section. Remember this snippet of information – it will come back to haunt us both in a minute…

So our turn finally came and into the mist we hurtled. What I didn’t know was that the timed section was first and so clearly thinking we weren’t motoring sufficiently Aunty Becky gave me a growl and a kick on. Now in my defence she did do this just before a jump so I thought she meant take off from there. It was a long way off but I am a professional athlete and nothing if not amenable; so I did. This seemed to surprise Aunty Becky and she felt the need to inspect my ears. Being ever helpful I threw up my head, dropped her back in the plate and off we went.

All was going swimmingly well, Aunty Becky remembered where we were going and despite ridiculously thick fog we had managed to navigate ourselves around the eight jumps.

Now, remember the eight jumps part? Well we’d jumped eight (I’d counted) so as we came back out of that arena I assumed we’d finished and I may have taken a hard right back to a few of my new mates in the collecting ring to tell them all about it. This utterly surprised Aunty Becky who’d clearly forgotten to mention the other 11 jumps on the rest of the course. She said eight! What’s a boy supposed to do? There was a mildly worrying moment when Aunty Becky seemed to be practising playing polo and was hanging so far off the side she could have been picked for the Army tent pegging team but she recovered and swung me back round the way we were supposed to be going. Mother’s scream of: “Will the pair of you stop farting about and GET ON!” could have probably been heard in the Outer Hebrides.

I later found out as we hadn’t gone through the timer gates at that point that little misunderstanding had cost us dearly. Next time woman tell me that there’s 19 jumps!

So the rest of the course passed by in a foggy blur. I was a little peeved I was only jumping the little fences and we may have had a couple of arguments over this. None the less while it wasn’t the tidiest or most professional round I’d ever done, we got round which given the conditions wasn’t bad. I was blowing like an asthmatic whale by the end and Aunty Becky was panting so hard I thought I was being piloted by Lassie. There was steam billowing off me (proof if it was ever needed that I am HOT) and we were both grinning from ear to ear.

I spent the rest of the day being fed lots of sweets by the inner sanctum of important people who knew where I was being stabled and generally being fussed. My mother did express concerns that if my ego got any bigger then I wouldn’t fit on the lorry on the way home but since she is a limelight hogger of epic proportions I think it was jealousy.

I went home, had an amazing roll, got my still white-ish feathers filthy and then spent the night regaling the barn with tales of my brilliance. The best news of all is the following day the boss lady trotted me up and I’m SOUND! So this was a little practice, a warm-up before I burst back onto the cross-country scene like a feathered fiend.

So Mary, we’ve met, we chatted, you handled my fame so do you fancy a jaunt around a proper cross-country course in a way you’ve never been around one before? Call me.

Laters,

Hovis

m king and hovis