I have been lucky enough to take over this blog from my sister, Lucy, who concluded her riding career at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) last week. Riding Cashelbay JJ, who I also have the luxury of taking over, they finished their four years together with a win in the 153cm working hunter pony class. This was a fantastic day for them both as it marked Cash’s sixth win there, and it was the culmination of 15 years of riding and competing for Lucy. After being the butt of Lucy’s observations on this blog, finally I can make a few observations of my own!
Apart from her amazing record at HOYS, there was an even bigger HOYS miracle this year. This is that Lucy didn’t enter the ring completely naked. Mummy had decided that there was no point in her having new clothes for her last ride and this resulted in us both suffering the consequences.
First, Lucy insisted on wearing the ‘Lucky Shirt’ (MY Lucky Shirt), which meant I had to borrow one on the day from Annabel Prince who came to the rescue. Then, she was wedged into her coat like a Victorian lady in a corset. By fence three, the middle button could take no more and it burst open like a champagne cork, releasing her number elastic so her number just flew behind her like a kite for the rest of the round. By fence five, the left boot zip had burst open to the ankle followed swiftly by the right boot. But the real test came for the championship where no amount of huffing and puffing could force the zip of her boots up over her calves, which had clearly lost a bit of tone due to not riding for so long. Nothing would deter my mother, and with brutal determination she wrapped several circuits of black duck tape around her leg to strap on the boots, ignoring Lucy’s wails that it was torture and that they were tighter than tourniquets. However, after her complaining was reduced to light whimpering, which continued right up to going into the chute of the international arena, we assumed it was because she’d lost all feeling to her lower limbs. It would not be appropriate to divulge in my very first blog what lengths we went to to get her navy coat done up, but all I can say is if she ever does ride again, she will need a whole new outfit.
After trekking to qualifiers all over the country, aiming to secure that ‘golden ticket’ to HOYS, you always wonder whether it is even worth chasing the last ones. However, upon arriving at HOYS, you realise it is ALWAYS worth it. I am certain that every competitor has their own personal reason for being desperate to do their very best, and in my case this year, it was because it was my last class on Percy, with whom I had been second on equal marks to the winner the previous year.
As I came round to fence three, I had time to think to myself that I hadn’t ridden the best corner, and as I approached that fence, I knew my mother would say I’d been too quiet into it. So, as poor Percy met it, off a perfect shot as he always does, I knew I must land and ride. However, it was too late, and try as he might, he had what for him is a true rarity, a pole down. As infuriating as this was, I was as proud of him as I always have been and I was thrilled to be eighth, rounding off a wonderful season where I think he has been the most consistent 14 hander in the land — second at Royal Windsor, Hickstead, Lincoln, Burghley, in the Desert Orchid, the Inter-Team class, the BSPS Open, and several more, as well as wins and championships at other big shows.
It really has been a season to remember for all the best reasons, and the one worst, Peter Pan’s death. He had a completely unexpected obituary in the HOYS catalogue, the best surprise, and we remember him every day.
Lucy writes one last emotional blog for us as she hangs up her riding boots
Now changes are afoot. My beautiful Percy is off to the most perfect new home with the loveliest rider, but even so, half-term will be incredibly lonely without him. Beat The Boss is at home, waiting to be scooped up by a new jockey who we haven’t found yet. If the right home doesn’t come, we will gladly keep him. Just don’t tell my father.
Cash and I have one last BE (British Eventing) event next weekend, and then he and I will have a breather. We are ready for it — I need to give my A-levels some focus now and recharge the pony batteries, and Cash really does deserve it.
My thank you of the blog today goes to Mrs West — my housemistress at St Mary’s Ascot and Lucy’s when she was there. Thank you for all your understanding and support Mrs West, it makes such a difference to have you onside.
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