Sunday, 26 July 2015

Oatlands Village Fayre

Having got back from Weald Park late on Monday night, it felt like I'd not had much time to turn the lorry around (unpack, wash all costume and pad covers etc, clean out, empty toilet and refill water tanks, repack etc etc) before we were heading off again to the next show - Oatlands Village Fayre down in Weybridge.  Imie only lives very close so was planning on meeting us there, but as Helen would be coming in the lorry Monty was once again relegated into the back.

We trundled down without too much traffic (M25 on a Friday afternoon is never something to look forward to!), but on arrival at site we were greeted by a very very tight gate, set on an angle, with railings to content with as well - it was far tighter than either Todmorden or Colchester, let alone Hampsthwaite!  It took an awful lot of wiggling, along with holding the traffic up before we finally managed to squeeze our way in, but squeeze our way in we did!  We were then sited in a lovely corner surrounded by trees, and set up in no time.  We've got our set up pretty slick now, everyone has their own jobs and just gets them done. It's so nice not having to check everything because I know it will have just been done! And it means that even working at a nice pace and not rushing, we can be sitting down eating supper with the horses in their stables and sorted out within an hour and a half of arriving - not bad at all!  It'll certainly come in handy later on in the season when we have to travel from show to show!!

The following day was a lovely sunny day, and considering there was virtually nothing on site when we arrived, the whole fayre sprung up in no time - it always amazes me how an empty field can be transformed into a bustling event in only a few hours.  We had a lovely big space to warm up in and both the boys worked in beautifully. Casper was calm and concentrating, which with experience I have learnt usually doesn't bode well for the show!!  I wasn't wrong!  In the time it took us to walk the twenty metres from the tent into the arena he went from a lovely relaxed horse into a ridiculous excited one.  It's so frustrating, I can work him as much as I like at home and he is always absolutely foot perfect.  He's calm and lovely at shows until the very second he walks into an arena, and most of the time he's brilliant then as well. But one time in ten he will be so wound up its untrue!  I have no idea why he's like it at some shows and not at others, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between arena size, audience size, speaker distribution, music volume, surrounding attractions (stalls, rides, etc) or anything. Sometimes he's just manic and that's all there is to it, and you never know until you get I to the arena.  He's a conundrum for sure and certainly keeps me on my toes!!

Despite Casper's best efforts though both shows went through really well - vaulting on him was just sped up somewhat!  And thank god for Tinker!!  He's so sensible and lovely he is always a pleasure - although I know the audiences always prefer cheeky naughty Casper!

Before long it was time to pack up and head home - once we'd squeezed our way back out of the teeny tiny gateway that was!  I only got a few photos from the day, which you can see here.  But to make up for my lack of photos Imie has done another vlog!

We've got a weekend off before heading down to Hove for the Martlets Hospice Carnival on the late May Bank Holiday Monday - that'll be my next blog post!

Love Rosie x

Weald Park Craft and Country Show

The early May bank holiday saw Tinker, Casper, Monty and myself loading into the lorry and trucking off to Essex, for the Weald Park Craft and Country Show.  Both Helen and Imie were going to be meeting us there, so it was Monty who rode shotgun as my co-pilot - and very happy about it he was too!

It was another show for Classic Festivals, the organisers behind Framlingham Country Show - and it always makes things easier when you know how a show will operate!  Imie was also a happy bunny, as that week she'd bought herself a Go-Pro and was looking forward to filming our weekend.  She started off by filming all of our set up on time lapse, which is hilarious looking back at it!  My favourite part is watching me sledgehammer in all the stakes - in time lapse mode it just looks like I'm a pneumatic beast! If only it happened that easily in real time!!

Both shows went through really well on the Sunday, although unfortunately as it had been raining most of the morning the crowds weren't as big as hoped.  We've been really lucky with the weather so far, as it's rained before, in between and after our shows but not during - yet!  The evening came out nice so Tinker and Casper spent a few hours in the arena munching on the grass.  They also met Boris, the giant tortoise the girls met at Framlingham.  They were absolutely fascinated by him and couldn't seem to figure out what to think!

Luckily the weather was much better on Monday, and the whole show was far far busier. The crowds were great and everybody got behind us clapping and cheering in all the right places.  There were a couple of particularly enthusiastic chaps in Tinker's show, who made almost more noise than the whole rest of the audience put together!  I'm not sure if they genuinely thought the show was beyond hilarious, or if they'd just spent a bit too much time in the beer tent - I suspect the latter!

Before long the weekend was over and Monty and I were trucking our lonely way home.  Much as I love the hound he's not much of a conversationalist!  We managed to get a few photos of the weekend, which you can see here.  Next up is a one day show down in Weybridge, Oatlands Country Fayre, so I'll tell you all about that next!

Love Rosie x

Monday, 20 July 2015

Colchester Town Show

Our next show following Framlingham was Colchester Town Show, run by Oakleigh Fairs. I've known Charlie, Emma and Daniel (the organisers) for years, and having not seen them since Poole Town and Country Show back in August I was looking forward to seeing them all again.  Helen was meeting us there so she'd be able to make a quick getaway on Sunday evening, so it was Imie, myself and the three boys packed into the lorry.  We made good time on the journey, but then spent ages trying to find the correct entrance to the park - we ended up at one point down a very narrow lane with a tight bend and had to do a many many pointed turn to try and turn around! We finally managed to wind our way down yet another teeny tiny lane and through a VERY narrow gate (reminiscent of the one at Todmorden Show but not quite so bad!) and we were finally there on site! Hooray!!

It was lovely seeing the crew again, and we were set up and sorted in no time.  The next day we were soon ready for the shows. The first one started well, but having not had much space to warm up in Casper was full of beans! As I was working on Tinker at the start of the show I could see him out of the corner of my eye dancing about and being silly, so when Helen said 'It's time to welcome Casper to the show, he's been waiting very patiently in the wings...' I nearly burst out laughing as he most certainly had not been!!

Roman riding was interesting to say the least, as Casper was plunging and broncing which is far from ideal. Poor Tinker was obviously just wondering what on earth was going on, and who was the massive idiot he had been clipped to.  Despite Casper's best efforts though everything went through as planned, just with a bit more oomph!  Luckily his oomph was mostly run out by the second show, so I could relax and enjoy it all bit more.  Having said that, I always enjoy the shows, even when Casper is being a massive fool - and the more of a fool he is the more the audiences seem to enjoy it!!

Helen and Imie spent the evening practising their head stands (good for shoulder stands!), and then we all tried to fly one another in various different acrobatic moves - with equally varying degrees of success!!

Sunday went through very smoothly and before we knew it it was time to pack up and head home. And that's where it got interesting! We had to wiggle our way back out of the very narrow gate before doing another many many pointed turn before winding our way back along the narrow little road, but we did it!  We were then happily whizzing back down the A12, thinking we'd be home in no time, when BOOM! A tyre blew.  Balls.  We pulled over in a layby and rung the breakdown people.  They were brilliant and within the hour a lovely chap called Jay had arrived with a shiny new tyre and proceeded to change it for our burst one.  The horses were so good, as the lorry was jacked up and a pneumatic tool was used to undo the wheel nuts right under their front feet - Imie kept them occupied by feeding them carrots so they were happy as anything!

We were soon back on the road, and on our way home - the whole episode only put us back just under two hours, so not so bad, although I was very glad to finally get home!  We've a few photos from the weekend which you can see here.

We then had a couple of weeks off, before heading of to Weald Park Country and Craft Show over the May bank holiday, so I'll tell you all about that next!

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Framlingham Country Show

11th and 12th April saw us performing at Framlingham Country Show - our first proper show of the 2015 season!  It was organised by Classic Festivals who were the team behind our last show of 2014, the East Anglian Equine Fair, so it was nice to know we'd be seeing familiar faces.  The show was being held at Framlingham College and Helen was meeting us there so it was myself, Imie, Monty, Tinker and Casper who piled into the lorry and headed off on Friday afternoon.  After a relatively easy journey we arrived on site only to be told we had to turn around (no easy feat on a tight show field in a 33 foot long lorry!) go back out of the site, wind our way back through the town and come in at the bottom of the field.  This we duly did, but not before missing the little lane we should have taken and having to do yet another many point turn around! We finally arrived where we should be, and after another little lorry wiggle to get through an awkwardly angles gate we were there!  It was a beautifully flat area of grass right next to the cricket nets, but we were assured they wouldn't mind us setting up there.  I was worried about making a mess, but we decided to turn the lorry around so it was facing the right way for the tent and for us to leave at the end of the weekend.  Round I went feeling pleased with my relatively tight turning circle, only to look in the mirror and realise we were leaving huge tracks in the immaculate grass!  Oops!  Never mind, just one more slight adjustment to bring the lorry parallel to the bank... back I went... and sunk.  Properly, deeply sunk.  The lorry was stuck fast, and we couldn't go forwards or backwards.  We couldn't drop the ramp to get the boys off because the lorry was backed up on an angle to the bank so we really were stuck in every way.  Poor boys, we offered them a drink and they were actually quite happy just munching on their haynets, although I'm sure they would have preferred to get off the lorry and eat some grass!

Imie and Helen had gone up to the main show site (a few minutes walk away) to try and get some help.  This was duly found in the form of a lovely chap called Simon Tinkler, who had a stand at the show promoting the local Ernest Doe Power, who as their name suggests had quite a few tractors!  Simon tried with his 4x4 first of all to pull us out, but we're about thirteen tonnes fully laden so no such luck unfortunately - just more holes in the grass.  Off Simon went to fetch a tractor from their premises, whilst we just waited.  We were also next to the colleges tennis courts, and Monty was overjoyed to find a ball!  Ball is God to Monty, and as we were all at a loose end it wasn't long before he was completely exhausted.  Simon soon returned with a lovely big tractor and before we knew it we were free!  Hooray!!  Thank you Simon!  So, after having been on site for just over an hour, we were finally ready to get on with setting up!

It took us a little while to remember where everything went and how the stables fitted together, so our set up was a little longer than usual - we'd got it down to a good fast technique by the end of last summer, but I have no doubt we'll get that back again!  Having settled in for the night we went to bed hoping for good weather - and that we'd all remember the shows the following day!

We had a lovely space for a turnout paddock for the boys and warm up area (although it did have some dirty great tyre tracks across it...), but we didn't get much chance to do a warm up as it poured with rain all morning.  We were all dressed, tacked up and ready to warm up, and just waiting for it to ease off a bit.  But it didn't.  I really didn't want to go out in it as it just makes everything soggy and bedraggled, and the horses hate working in the rain almost as much as I do.  Our warm up time gradually ticked by, and all the while the rain continued to pour down.  Eventually, just five minutes before we were due in the arena the rain stopped and the sun came out!  Hooray!!  We jumped on the boys and trotted up to the arena by way of a warm up with not a minute to spare.  Straight in and away we went - and they were perfect!  Having not been in a proper show for nearly five months they went in and were brilliant.  It was a tight arena on quite a slope, so down the hill and around the bend was a bit hairy in Roman riding - especially as Casper was his usual exuberant self!  He was very good really though, despite being absolutely fascinated by Cherry the miniature horse who was in a pen ringside.  He was trying to concentrate but just couldn't year his eyes from her!  

The only real problem we had was with the music system.  Ron, the music man, hadn't realised we needed two hand held mics and a CD player.  Luckily we had a CD player with us, but we had to muddle through with one hand held and one head mic.  Poor Ron also had to muddle through as the way the system was set up meant we could only have one of the three things (two mics and CD) playing at any one time - not ideal!  He looked like he was going to have a heart attack by the end of the show, but amazingly he managed to sort it all out for the second show so everything played at the same time - well done that Ron!

Next in the ring following both our performances were the Zulu dancers.  Casper and Tinker have never seen anything like them before, and were once again fascinated - I thought Casper's eyes were going to pop out of his head at one point!  The Zulus were great and we were all dancing away before long - Casper included who just couldn't stand still!!  As well as the Zulus there was lots to see and do at the show.  The girls went for a wander about in between our performances and met a lovely big tortoise called Boris.  You can see photos of him and other images from the weekend by clicking here.

By the time the evening came around we were all exhausted, but luckily the rain stayed away so the boys could get some well earned rest and grass  in their paddock.  I took Monty for a lovely walk along the Framlingham Castle Mere Trail, which he absolutely loved.  He's such a pleasure to have with us on the shows - although we do all have to wear earplugs overnight so we can sleep through his snoring!

The next day both the shows went through really well again, and once again we were lucky with the weather.  There was quite a bit of time in between our two performances, so we got everything packed down and ready to go.  It felt quite odd coming back to the lorry with just tack, costume and props to pack up, but it sped us up no end and we were back on the road in no time!  And that was our first show done and dusted just like that!  The following weekend we were off to Colchester Town and Country Show organised by Oakleigh Fairs - I'll tell you all about that next!

Love Rosie x

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

East Anglian Equine Fair

Photo by Helen Gilbertson

 Photo by Kate Jackson

Our last show of 2014 and it was a late one!  The last weekend in October saw Helen, Imie, Monty, Tinker, Casper and myself heading of to Trinity Park in Suffolk for the East Anglian Equine Fair.  Up until two weeks prior to the event I had had it in my head that it was an indoor show.  When I realised that actually it was outdoors I became slightly nervous!  Not only was it the last weekend in October (when the clocks go back), so the weather was bound to be revolting, but the last shoeing the boys had had we'd not bothered with stud holes as I thought it was going to be an indoor show.  Now we were faced with the prospect of a rainy show, in the cold, on slippery grass with no studs.  Eeek!

Having arrived and set up we were delighted to find some Yorkshire friends there too!  Hannah and Rachel from Connection Training were down for the weekend with a stall at the fair.  I'd not seen them for at least a year, so it was great to catch up with them.  There were there with another lady called Mel, who had her pony Toby with her for some demonstrations.  None of them were staying on site but Toby was, so we were introduced to him and promised to keep an eye on him.  We bedded down for the night and went to sleep hoping for fine weather the next day.

And we got it!  We woke up to a grey but dry day, and were so pleased to make it through the shows without getting rained on at all!  There were some showers but we escaped them all - phew!  We had a lovely big space for warm up, and the arenas were a really good size as well.  There were two different arenas, and one of them had a few trees in.  This didn't cause any problems, other than the fact that I had to duck whilst Roman riding a bit!

As the event was an equine fair there was lots of other horsey demonstrations and displays, everything from Parelli to Para Dressage and Clicker Training to Heavy Horses - it was great!  We spent a bit of time watching some displays and wandering around the stalls, but you never as much time as you think to yourself on a show day - there's always something to do!  We got an extra hours sleep overnight on the Saturday though which was lovely, I always appreciate extra time in bed!!

We were very lucky with the weather again on the Sunday, and both the shows went through well, so any concerns I may have had on arrival were thankfully unjustified.  We managed to gather a few images from the weekend, which you can see here.  Before we knew it it was time to pack up and head home - and before we managed that it was dark!  We set off, waving goodbye to everybody as we went, and then spent the next twenty minutes driving around and around Trinity Park (which is huge!) trying to find the way out!  We kept following little roads that ended at gates - but all the gates were locked.  We eventually managed to find our way out, and back onto a proper road and home.  2014 season done!!  At the end of the last blog of the season I usually say thank you to everybody involved, and how none of it would be possible on my own, it really is a team effort.  It feels a bit odd writing that now, in May, in the middle of another season - but it's still true!  Special thanks must obviously go to my most amazingly generous, willing and generally fantastic boys, Tinker and Casper - without them absolutely none of it would be possible!

And the 2014 blog is finally done!  Hooray!!  Now I can start telling you all about the shows we've already done this year - first up was Framlingham Country Show, and I'll write about that next!

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Rotherham Show

Sunday 7th September 2014 saw us at Rotherham Show in South Yorkshire.  Charlie, Adam, Monty, Tinker, Casper and myself had all piled into the lorry and headed up the M1 the day before, with Helen meeting us on site.  We'd arrived and set up in good time, and the boys were particularly happy as we'd turned them out in the arena where there was lots of grass.  Their paddock at home was practically bare at the time, so they wasted no time in stuffing their faces as much as possible!

The morning of the show we were excited to see we had been joined over night by Dingle Fingle. Dingle is a good friend who I'd not seen for a while, so it was lovely to see him again.  We'd not had a show together since Tain Gala the previous summer!  Rotherham Show had requested a little added extra, so we had rearranged the shows to include Roman riding in both performances.  We'd given the new shows a run through in August at the Poole Town and Country Show, but it was all still a bit new - we were all hoping it would go well!  Mainly that we'd remember the new running orders!!

Whilst we were getting everything ready for the show Adam took Monty for a walk around the showground - and between them they committed a massive social faux pas!  Not quite as bad as at the recent Dunscore Gala, but not far off...  They'd been for a walk around most of the showground and were just coming back up the main drag between all the stalls when Monty decided that was the most appropriate place to have a poo.  Now, Monty's poos have to be seen to be believed - they are quite simply enormous.  Adam waited for him to finish, whilst being eyeballed by all the stall holders, before dutifully patting his pockets down for the poo bags (you always need two!).  Only to realise with mounting horror that he had forgotten to take some with him!  Eeek!!  After a little while an obliging dog owner handed over a bag, but the offending mountain refused to fit in just one small bag.  Adam had to scrape up as much as he could, before they both came back to the lorry with their tails between their legs.  Needless to say Adam had to go back out with a second bag and collect the remaining turd - much to his disgust and the stall holders delight!  I just saw this 'Off The Leash' cartoon which sums up the situation perfectly!

Poo Bag Panic

Whilst all this was going on we had welcomed Helen's parents, Chris and Sue, who had come to watch for the day.  It was to be the first time they had seen Helen vault in the show so they were very excited - and Helen was determined not to fall off!  In we went and it was soon Helen's turn to take centre stage.  She started off well and then it was time for the dreaded shoulderstand on the back - her nemesis move...  Up she went... and then down she came!  But she somehow managed to squiggle around and stay on!  Hooray!!  I'm still not quite sure how she managed it, as looking back at the photos she was practically half way off Casper at one point - it was definitely a good save!  The Roman riding went through really well as well, despite the fact that the arena was on a bit of a slope - we got plenty of speed up coming down the hill and around the bend!  The thing I remember most from the Roman riding is Sue's face as we whizzed past her, it was a mixture of excitement and horror - at least that's what it looked like and was hilarious!

Helen had bought her camera and Adam managed to get loads of photos of the two shows.  You can click here to see them, and bonus points if you can spot Dingle in the background who filmed it all!

Following Rotherham Show we had a break of about six weeks, before heading off to the East Anglian Equine Fair over the last weekend in October - I'll tell you all about that next!

Love Rosie x

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Earls Barton Rally and Country Fayre

The late bank holiday in August 2014 saw us packing up and heading off to the relatively local Earls Barton Rally and Country Fayre.  It was a real treat to only have to drive for an hour, and not even touch a motorway.  We've spent so many Fridays sitting in motorway traffic over the summer, but not this weekend!

Having arrived on site we were directed to a lovely quiet little corner that had been cordoned off especially for us.  One side of our area was fenced with an adjoining paddock.  In this paddock were a couple of donkeys and a couple of pigs.  Pigs are quite literally the only thing I have ever found that Tinker is genuinely terrified of, and Casper has always been absolutely horrified but also fascinated by donkeys.  Needless to say from the second I got them down the ramp their eyes were on stalks and they were both snorting and puffing like a pair of ridiculous dragons!  We let them off whilst we were setting up, and the snorty ridiculousness continued for quite some time!!

It was a three day show, and the Saturday went through very well. Following our second show, Helen jumped in her car and shot off to a friend's wedding for the evening, but later on we were joined by Imie's boyfriend George.  George is lovely and Imie was really happy to have him with us, although I think he was a bit unsure about having to bed down in the cosy lorry!

Sunday morning and Helen reappeared!  The boys were mooching around their paddock, and had actually managed to get used to their pig and donkey neighbours.  The weather was lovely and sunny, we had George with us for the day and Adam was due to come down later that evening - what more could we ask for?!  Things did improve though, because before we'd even gone in for the first show the organisers came over and rebooked us for their 2015 event, which was brilliant!  I love getting repeat bookings as it means we must be doing something right!!

The shows went through really well again, apart from a slightly panicky moment just before we were about to go on for the first one when I relised we hadn't got the boys plumes on their bridles.  Luckily speedy George sprinted back off to the lorry and fetched them for us just in the nick of time!

We were very lucky with the weather over the weekend, but then on the Monday it was the opposite.  It was a very miserable day, and pouring with rain.  The organisers came and told us that as there were so few people on site we didn't have to go on if we didn't want to - but how could we not do the shows!  We reached a compromise and ended up doing our forty-five minute show, so everybody was happy.  And it turned out we did have quite a good audience, what they lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm!  We got back to the lorry to find that in the hour we'd been gone Adam had made a super human effort and managed to pack up the entire tent and stables all by himself - it normally takes all three of us the best part of an hour!!  It was lovely not to have to do it, we literally untacked the horses, packed away the show props, and we were away - I think we were home by about 4pm, which is unheard of on a show day!!

We met lots of lovely people over the weekend, as well as catching up with some old friends who came especially to see us, so we are all very much looking forward to our repeat visit in 2015!

Next up is our trip to Rotherham Show, but in the meantime you can see some photos of our weekend at Earls Barton Rally by clicking here.

Love Rosie x