The Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) has been and gone for another year, and thankfully it was just as fabulous as always.
We were particularly pleased to see that the fortune-telling gypsy (who I have mentioned before) has had a very prosperous year and duly upgraded her old, pretty average caravan to an extremely swanky one, which she had proudly on show. It’s wonderful that her truly groundbreaking prediction skills have been recognised and have paid off so lucratively for her. She was able to give my sister Susie yet more exciting news for the future, and to flog my grateful mother a costly replacement gem for Susie’s pocket, so watch this space…
However the real highlight for my sister, my mother and I was to watch our old ponies with their new jockeys. You often hear of people resenting their old ponies going well in their new homes, but we honestly couldn’t feel more differently. This is especially the case as we are the sad people who can’t bear to sell any of them as my mother wants to be the one to call time on their careers when they’ve done enough, and to spend her own old age tending to their every geriatric need here at home. For this reason they all go with a “happiness manual” to give the new home the benefit of our hindsight. As we know only too well, to know as much as is possible of a pony’s backstory is a huge advantage for both pony and owner and saves so much time, trial and error.
First up at the RIHS was Beat The Boss, whose home at the De Wesselow’s was hand-picked by my sister last year. Privately, we did not think that the working hunter pony course would necessarily suit Boss, who can be quite particular in his old age. However, Xanthe gave him a beautiful and composed ride under an immense amount of pressure, which she appeared not to feel the slightest hint of, just having an unfortunate pole. A week later came the announcement that they’ve been selected for the England team at the BSPS champs, which was fantastic to hear for both her and us.
Next came Kyregate Peter Pan, who is a perfect match for Ruby Ward in their equal enthusiasm, gusto and humour. I don’t believe any combination entertained the crowd more delightfully and we were thrilled that what many considered to be the best round of the class was rewarded with second place. To great amusement, even Ruby’s little brother, James, not known for exaggeration, was overheard to admit that her performance had been “good”.
Finally, and most exciting for me, was my former pony Valentine Hazel, ridden impeccably by 10-year-old Isabella Stanley. We came to know Issy first, after her mother Sam, approached me at the annual BSPS Area 15 Awards about how best to get Issy started in workers. Issy then took the ride on another pony of mine, my cradle stakes pony Bradmore Raindance; 20-years-old and who we kept at home at the time. They had great success last season, and we so enjoyed it all with them that the Stanleys were the natural choice for Hazel when she was in need of a home — we thought Issy was such a good rider and would be perfect for her. My mother has helped her whenever there’s been time with lessons at home, and although Issy had never won a nursery before RIHS, qualifying on a second place at Windsor, and had only ever ridden at RIHS on the lead-rein, they did a foot-perfect round to win with outstanding marks in all three sections. This rounded off a fantastic week.
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Credit goes to Rachel Turner, who warmed Issy up and walked the course with her, and to Freestep Superfix, whose products have been paramount in keeping Hazel (and all our ponies, for that matter) in peak condition.
A very special and memorable Royal International, as it always is.