Friday, 5 October 2012

Liskeard Show

Well, I thought it was a long way to Abinger Medieval Fair - but that was before we went to Liskeard!  It was to be our last show of the season, and the first one in the new lorry.  The journey was 373 miles, and I'd reckoned on it taking about nine to ten hours, depending on the traffic.  At least it was mainly motorway miles, and the new lorry was a pleasure to drive.  The old one was very hard work, like a constant battle, so I was very happy!  Not so happy when we fuelled up for the first time though; it has twin tanks and I managed to get £243.88 worth of diesel in - ouch!

The journey went really well until we got to the M5.  We were nearly half way, and were planning to get off at the next services, which were about five miles further on, when we stopped.  And stayed stopped.  Whatever was causing the problem was obviously very serious, as there was no traffic coming on the other side of the carriageway either.  Everyone was switching off their engines and getting out of their cars.  People were taking their dogs out for wees on the hard shoulder, so we thought we may as well join in!  We made enough space to get the ramp down, and got the horses off.  I have never done this before on the side of the motorway, but I'm glad we did.  Both boys were needing a wee and a drink, and they happily munched the grass and had a lot of fuss from everybody around us - I don't think they could quite believe their eyes!  After about fifteen minutes of so we saw traffic coming up the other carriageway, so knew we'd be on the move soon.  We didn't realise quite how quickly though, and were still putting the ramp up as traffic started to move around us!  We stopped again in the nearby services anyway (it wasn't just the horses that needed a wee and a drink!), before heading on our way again.  Luckily there were no further incidences and we arrived on the showground nine and a half hours after leaving Yorkshire - perfect!

Having set up and settled in for the night it was time to enjoy the new lorry properly.  Helen cooked delicious omelettes, and we spent the evening in well lit, warm and spacious comfort.  We all slept really well too - Jess even had a proper bed as opposed to a mattress on the floor! 

I spent the morning working Casper in the arena as usual, but I hadn't done very much before we were beckoned over to the side of the arena, and before I knew it we were being interviewed live on BBC Radio Cornwall!  Along with Pauline (the show secretary) we had a good chat with the presenter about what was happening at the show, and then Casper had a nibble on the mic to get his point across also.  After the interview we did a bit more rehearsal, then it was back to the lorry for breakfast!

We had quite a few visitors throughout the day, which was lovely.  First up was Mark, who had been to see us back at Ibstock.  He was down in Cornwall for the weekend with a friend, Dougie, and they'd come to see us specially!  I was showing Mark around the lorry and offered him a cup of tea - only to discover that the gas had run out!  So, not so super fantastic lorry after all.  Our next visitors were family.  Ben's brother lives in Newquay with his wife and two children, and they'd all come up for the day.  I first spotted them during Casper's show, as we were whizzing around - and can even see them in the background of quite a few photos!  They'd bought a big bag of carrots for Tinker and Casper which didn't last very long but made for very happy boys!  Lastly we met a friend's mum, who was on the committee for the show and I think may have had a hand in us being booked in the first place!  All these visits made for a fantastic day, and along with the weather being perfect and both shows going really well we had a great day - it was a lovely way to round the season off!  You can see how much we enjoyed the show from this little video from Cornish Living TV:

We had arranged to stay on site for an extra night, and then drive back up north on Sunday.  However, we were sited quite near the beer tent, and had been warned that there was going to be a very rowdy Young Farmers' party on that evening.  We were advised by the organisers to pack up and move to the top of the show field, where we could set up in an area sectioned off and protected by security - I didn't think Young Farmers were that bad!!  But we took their advice and packed up all the tent and stables, drove 200 meters, and then set it all back up again!  Following this we were all starving, but not having any gas we had to settle for cold quiche and salad for supper, not what we had planned but still very yummy!

In the morning we packed up (again!) and set off on the long drive home.  We made much better time coming back, as there was hardly any traffic and we just trucked on.  And on.  And on.  I had a moment of panic on the way back though.  We'd stopped at a services for the boys to get off for a while, and were taking it in turns to go in for a wee.  I'd gone in last and as I was walking back towards everybody I suddenly realised I didn't have the lorry keys with me.  I'd taken them into the services with me, but had left them in there!  Massive panic!!  We were still 200 miles from home, the lorry was completely locked, and I hadn't had a chance to get spares cut yet so they were the only set.  I ran back into the services and back into the loos.  I knew I'd left them in there, but they were nowhere to be seen.  I spent the next ten minutes going around all the shops asking if they'd been handed in, but to no avail.  Eventually I spotted a lady walking away who I thought may have been cleaning the loos when I'd been in there, so I ran after her shouting 'Excuse me!  Excuse me!'  Everyone was looking at me, except her.  I finally caught up with her and got her attention - it turned out she was foreign and didn't really understand what I was asking.  But, after some bad acting on my part ('Key, key' - Turning hand action), she seemed to grasp what I was trying to say and off we went!  She had the keys on her cleaning trolley, locked away in a cupboard - I would never have found them!  Thankfully they were safe and I was so grateful to her - major disaster averted!!  I have made Helen and Jess promise they will not let me take the keys anywhere unless I have a pocket or bag to put them in from now on.

We made it home without any further mishaps, and the boys were very happy to be back in their field - they rolled and rolled!  Although we were all pleased to be home it's quite sad to think we won't be out again until next year - I can't quite believe the season is over already, it really has flown by.  Despite a difficult few shows due to the weather, and a heartbreaking July when every show cancelled, we have had a fantastic first season - better than I ever could have hoped for.  Special thanks must go to the lovely Helen, who threw herself in at the deep end having never commentated before, and has been just brilliant with that and everything else (mucking out in the onesie especially!).  And to Jess, for being a great help with everything.  However, there are two boys without whom none of this would be possible.  I owe everything to Tinker and Casper, and am eternally grateful to them both.  Throughout the summer they have both made me laugh endlessly, and although they have both had their moments, they have been amazing in every single show.  I am incredibly lucky to have such wonderful horses, and feel privileged that they are both so generous towards me and all the ridiculous things I ask of them.  Thank you boys, I love you both very, very much.

Looking forwards to 2013 we have quite a few shows booked in already (hooray!) - have a look at the map and calender on the website to see where we'll be.  In the meantime, you can see some photos from sunny Liskeard by clicking here.

I'll keep you posted over the winter months on what we get up to at GA HQ, and feel free to follow us on facebook and/or twitter for more regular updates.  2012 Summer Season - over and out!

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Donkey Sanctuary Leeds' Summer Fair and Wragby Show

The weekend before last we had our first road trip of the season - going from one show to the other.  It wasn't originally supposed to be like this but unfortunately the Donkey Sanctuary had to cancel their Summer Fair in July due to the horrific weather.  Luckily they managed to reschedule and we were available on the new date - the day before we were due to be at Wragby Show.  So, Friday afternoon we set off for the Donkey Sanctuary, and on arrival were greeted by a deserted field of very very long grass!  We turned the boys out in the arena whilst we set up, and they couldn't believe their luck.  Casper was especially happy, as he wears a grazing muzzle at home (to keep the fatty belly at bay), so he was stuffing his face as much as possible!  

In the morning we had a run through with Casper in the arena and he was absolutely foot perfect.  This always makes me nervous as it usually means the show doesn't go so well - I'm convinced he only has so much good behaviour in him per day!  Our warm up went really well too, as we had loads of space right outside the lorry which always makes things easier.  Before long it was time for the show, so whilst Helen and Jess set the arena up I walked the boys down to the arena.  Just before we were about to go in Casper finally spotted them - THE DONKEYS!!  AHHHHH!!!  He didn't know what to do or where to look, but it was too late to take him over to see them - the music started and we were on!  He did the first lap quite quickly whilst trying to stare at the donkeys, a couple of whom were very casually watching us, whilst the rest were studiously ignoring us.  We managed to strategically place Tinker between the circle and the donkeys, to try and convince Casper there was nothing to worry about, and it seemed to work.  Before I'd even finished the first section of the show Casper had settled down and was working really well, despite the scary donkeys.

The rest of the show went through very well, despite the temptation of the long grass during the dance, and the ever distracting donkeys.  He did the chasing and rearing beautifully - no running off this time around.  I was very happy with him, as following the debacle at Ibstock I was glad to get a good show under our belts!

Next up was Tinker, and he was brilliant as usual.  He really does make life so easy and is always a pleasure to vault on.  I even managed to do full lie out with only one hand - always a good sign that your horse is going well!  Following both shows our meet and greets were in the arena, just off to the side.  We'd been allocated twenty minutes whilst the children's races were on, but our posters and keyrings (and horses!) were so popular we overran and had to be asked to leave the arena in the end!

We had a lovely day there, the donkeys were all beautiful (and very well behaved!), and everyone was really friendly - it was a shame we had to leave!  We did have to pack up and go as quickly as possible though, as we now had to drive down to Lincolnshire for Wragby Show.

The journey went well but our plans to arrive in daylight didn't quite come off, and it was dark when we eventually made it onto site.  We then spent the next twenty minutes or so with the security man and his map, trying to work out exactly where we should be setting up.  We found the spot in the end and started setting the stables and tent up, only to realise we were in the wrong place after all!  So we hefted everything over to the correct place, shunted the lorry over as well, and then set up properly!  It was a very tired team who finally got to bed that night.

In the morning we had plenty of time to spare so I had a good long rehearsal with Casper in the arena.  He is always better if he's worked in the arena prior to the show, but I didn't realise I'd built up quite an audience until I heard the applause when we finished - I'd given most of the show away already!

The arena was perfect for us - just the right size and as flat as a pancake, which made a welcome change!  It was a gorgeous day and we were all really looking forward to the shows.  Everything went very smoothly during both of them, apart from a slight mishap with Casper.  It was once again during the chasing and rearing section (our nemesis!), but it really wasn't his fault this time.  We'd done the first bit and he'd been perfect, but just as I ran off the second time, expecting him to follow, a couple of display aircraft flew over the area very low, startled Casper, and off he went!  He just ran back to Tinker and then stood looking at me as if to say 'What??'.  We've got used to covering this error for him, and the audience always seem to find it quite funny - I might actually put it in the script for next year!  

Despite being quite far away from home there was someone I knew in the audience; Terena Bolam who runs the Northcote Heavy Horse Centre and Lincolnshire Equestrian Vaulting.  I've known Terena a while but not seen her for quite some time, so it was good to have a proper catch up with her.  She stayed for both shows and enjoyed them both - I think it's even given her some ideas to go away with!  Someone else who enjoyed the show was a lady called Ellie (AKA Digital Harlot), who took HUNDREDS of photos of Casper's show.  It's a shame she couldn't stay for Tinker's show too, but I think her camera may have melted if she had!  You can see all the images she took by clicking here.

We managed to get quite a few photos over the weekend.  Click here to see some from the Donkey Sanctuary Summer Fair, and here to see the ones from Wragby Show.  We had a really lovely weekend at both the shows, and made it home exhausted but all in one piece.  It was our last weekend in the old lorry as I have finally managed to find a new lorry which fits the bill and was affordable!  I'm collecting it on Tuesday, which is just in the nick of time as we're off to Cornwall for the Liskeard Show on Friday, 373 miles away - a definite baptism of fire for the new lorry!  I'll let you know how everything goes soon.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ibstock Country Fair

Concentrating Casper
Photography by Stephen Colson

Misbehaving Casper!
Photography by Laura Cooper

Saturday before last we all set off down the M1 again, this time headed for Leicestershire and Ibstock Country Fair.  It was a lovely easy drive, and we were there before we knew it - then we had to get on to the site.  This proved slightly difficult as we missed the very small track down to the field, so had to go and turn around.  Then we realised the lane we were on was a dead end, so had to turn around in the tiniest of gate holes - good job the lorry has a good lock on it!

Having got on to site and set up we went to look at the arena properly.  Stuart (the organiser) had warned us it wasn't that flat - and he wasn't wrong!  We tried to pick the best bit out to mark the circle on, but it was still pretty uneven.  Not to worry, I know Tinker can cope with difficult arenas and Casper has to learn at some point.  At least it was dry so that made us very happy!

We were actually very lucky with the weather.  The sky was blazing pink when the sun was setting so we thought it would be a good day on Sunday, and it was!  The sun shone all day which was lovely, and very welcome.  In the morning we had a practise with Casper in the arena.  He was very good, as he had been at our previous show, the Cheshire Game and Angling Fair, so we had high hopes for his show.  As we weren't due on until 2pm we had quite a bit of time to look around the show and see what was there.  There was loads of different things, including parrots on tricycles, giant vegetables, sleeping pigs, noisy goats, and some gorgeous baby guinea pigs - I am definitely going to have another pair one day, they are such lovely little animals.  There was one who looked like he'd been electrified - all his coat was frizzy and standing up on end!

There was also lurcher racing, and the track was right next to us - those dogs can shift!  Have a look at this little video to see how fast they go:

Before long it was time for Casper's show.  As the lurcher racing had finished I'd been using the track to warm Casper up.  Although I usually lunge him before a show, the track wasn't quite wide enough, so I rode him around as much as I could until I felt we'd done enough.  He seemed very calm and I was enjoying working him in the sunshine.  However, appearances can be deceptive, and as soon as we got into the arena I realised it was not going to be an easy show!  From the word go Casper was difficult - even when I was doing my introduction he was charging around the circle of his own volition, bucking and farting as he went!  Vaulting on him was very hard, although he did manage to balance himself in the arena, so that was one good thing!  He did a good dance, until we got to the chasing and rearing.  He managed the first couple well, but on the third he reverted to his old bad habit of turning round and charging off on his own - once again bucking and farting!  The little bugger did two full laps of the arena flat out, and there was absolutely nothing either myself or Helen could do besides watch him.  All I could do was talk on the mic, saying 'well Ladies and Gentlemen, this IS NOT in the script, but Casper seems to be having a jolly good time here at Ibstock Country Fair - so I hope you are too!'  Luckily Casper then ran into the circle, at which point Helen shut the gate - the beast was trapped!!  We then carried on the show as if nothing had gone wrong, butter wouldn't melt in Casper's mouth!  I have learnt my lesson the hard way: Casper MUST be lunged prior to any show, no excuses!!

After the debacle of the first show I was very much looking forward to the second show, and good old reliable Tinker.  He didn't disappoint, and did a lovely show from start to finish - I can actually and relax and enjoy the show for what it is on him!  Despite Casper's naughtiness he seems to have been a real hit with the audience - since coming back home I have received lots of photographs of him and praise for him.  You can see lots of photos from the weekend by clicking hereWe can't have done as bad a job as I initially thought, as we have already been asked to come back to Ibstock next year!  Fingers crossed Casper will behave this time...

We're off on a road trip this weekend.  Friday afternoon we will be leaving for EST Leeds Donkey Sanctuary Summer Fair on Saturday.  This was postponed from July due to bad weather, so we're hoping the sun will shine as much as it did at Ibstock!  After the shows we're heading off down to Lincolnshire for Wragby Show on Sunday - again, hoping for sunshine (and good behaviour from Casper!).  I'll let you know how we get on.

Love Rosie xx

Friday, 17 August 2012

Cheshire Game and Angling Fair

Casper enjoying his ringside seat watching the Puissance.

Tinker and Helen obviously not so impressed!

Last weekend we picked up a last minute show, which was an unexpected bonus!  However, it was not under the best circumstances unfortunately.  Jive Pony had been due to attend, but due to unforeseen circumstances Becca was unable to bring Ronan and Navvy to the event.  Becca rang me on the Wednesday afternoon to see if we could do the show on Sunday, and luckily the answer was yes!  So, after a mad couple of days getting everything ready and the lorry packed, Helen, Tinker, Casper and myself set off for Peover and the Cheshire Game and Angling Fair.

I attended this show back in 2009 with Jive Pony, and let's just say it was an interesting one!  I was hoping things would go a bit smoother this time around, but we didn't get off to a good start when we had to get towed onto the site on arrival.  However, once we'd got in position we got everything set up without any further problems.  Alex (Jive Pony's Glamourous Assistant) had come up to the show, as he was entered in their shoe making competition in the morning.  He'd obviously been planning to come up to the show anyway, but I'm not sure if it was more of a help or a hindrance to have him there whilst we were setting up!

During the night Casper got up to quite a bit of mischief.  I'd made a sign and taped it to the front of his stable which read 'Please don't feed the horses'.  Casper had not only pulled the sign off his stable but had eaten away the part that said 'Please don't', so he ended up holding a sign which just read 'Feed the horses'!  He looked like he was a little beggar horse!  On top of that he'd decided he wanted to see out of the back of the tent (having the whole front and side open obviously wasn't enough for him!) so had unstuck all the velcro from one side and had his head poking out.  He is a ridiculous creature that one!

We decided that this show was the one where Casper was going to branch out on his own and do the show without Tinker in the arena with him.  We'd been waiting all season for a show where our stables were situated ringside, so that he could see Tinker from the arena, but he wouldn't be in there with him.  This was the first time we were going to try this with him so we were all a bit nervous!  Casper has some difficult separation anxiety issues, but we've been working on them so were hoping for the best.  We had a little practise in the arena in the morning and he was really very good - probably because Tinker was still in full view!  When the time came for the show I took Casper to warm up.  This was in an area away from Tinker and out of sight of him, so I was slightly concerned that this would undo all our good work from the morning.  I needn't have worried though - he was very well behaved once again so I was very happy with him!  We were soon into the arena and the show couldn't have gone better.  Casper was lovely to vault on, he did an amazing dance and his chasing was the best he's ever done!  When we were racing around the arena he was so hot on my heels I really thought he was going to stand on me at one point!  I was so proud of him I really couldn't have asked for any more from him.

Next up was Tinker, although before we even got into the arena he had us all in stitches.  For some reason he just would not stop yawning.  He just yawned and yawned and yawned - and that was before he'd even done any work!  I don't believe he was tired as he'd slept well overnight (judging by the amount of straw in his mane and tail!) and he also spent most of the morning flat out.  It's obviously just very hard work being a Tinker! As per usual he did a lovely show, although he did have a bit of trouble in his dance.  For some reason he got stuck in Spanish Walk gear, and went stomping off in it all on his own - I couldn't get him to stop!  Other than that he was perfect so I was very pleased with him as well.  We did have a bit of an incident at one point during the show.  About halfway through a random chap came wandering out into the arena towards us.   To start with I thought he was an official coming to tell us that we had to cut the show short for some reason, but it turned out he'd just been in the beer tent a little bit too long and wanted to come and have a closer look at what was going on!  Helen was very good on the microphone asking the 'random gentleman to kindly exit the arena, as it is very distracting having invasions!' at which point an actual official came in to escort him out.  Minutes later we had another arena invasion - this time from a naughty little terrier who had managed to escape the clutches of it's very embarrassed owner!  It seems that weird incidents in the arena are a given at the Cheshire Game Fair!

The horses' tomfoolery continued throughout the day.  Whilst we were packing everything up we left them to wander about our little enclosure as we took their stables and tent down.  Next thing we know they were both climbing up the ramp into the lorry, despite the fact that it was obviously full of bits of stable, props, bases etc - definitely not ready for horses!  By this time the arena activities had finished, so we chucked the boys in there - just to get rid of them!  We were soon ready to put load up and go, but Tinker had other ideas.  He decided that he didn't want to go home just yet and wouldn't let us catch him!  However, by the time we'd ignored him for five minutes and lavished attention on Casper it was a different story, and we were soon loaded up and trucking home.

We had a lovely day at the show.  As well as Alex, Becca came up for the afternoon and bought Gemma with her too.  Everyone was very helpful - Becca was taking photos and collecting music sheets for us, Gemma was helping groom the horses and washing them down after each show, and Alex helped set up the arena with Helen and mended a dangly bit on the lorry - it's nice to have a good big team!  We'll be back to normal for our next show, Ibstock Country Fair, with Helen, Jess and myself.  I'll let you know how we get on but in the meantime click here to see some photos from Cheshire Game Fair.

Love Rosie xx

Saturday, 4 August 2012

July cancellations and what I did instead!

July has unfortunately been the most disheartening month I have had in a long time.  It was due to be our busiest month, and I was really looking forward to getting the show out and about.  However, it was not to be as the great British weather conspired against us and every single show cancelled.  I totally understand why the decision to cancel each show was made, and I also know it is one that organisers' never want to have to make, but it did leave us at a bit of a loose end!  We never stand still for long though, and July turned out to be quite busy after all!

Sunday 8th should have seen us at EST Leeds Summer Fair.  On learning of the cancellation however I decided to go back home (Oxfordshire) for the weekend.  Whilst home that weekend I managed to view two horseboxes (we are desperately in need of a new lorry - I don't want a repeat of what happened on the motorway on our way to Abinger Medieval Fair!), but unfortunately neither of them quite fitted the bill.  It was the first time I had been home since about January, so it was lovely to catch up with friends and family.  To top it off EST managed to rearrange their Summer Fair to Saturday 1st September, when we will be attending and hoping for some sunshine!

The following weekend we should have been up in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, for their Garden and Country Festival.  This was an outright cancellation unfortunately with no rearrangement.  It was going to be a two day show which we were really looking forward to - it's always nice to get properly settled in somewhere for a few days!  As I suddenly had another free weekend I rang Becca (Jive Pony) to see what she was up to.  They had a show down in Essex, the Tendring Hundred Show, and were due to perform their duo show.  

A little story here now... I was part of Jive Pony for six years before moving up to Yorkshire in October 2011 and setting up Galloping Acrobatics.  Throughout the 2011 season Becca and I trained up Amy to replace me on the team when I left.  Amy is an ex-vaulter who is now an aerialist by trade (she performs on the aerial  hoop, silks and corde lisse) and was offered the amazing job of performing at the Olympics opening ceremony (you may have seen her - she was one of the Mary Poppins'!).  Unfortunately this was slap bang in the middle of the show season, but as it was too good an opportunity to pass up, Becca asked me to cover a few shows with her.  One of these was the Tendring Hundred Show in Essex.  However, we were booked to be in Kirkcudbright so I was unable to help.  Becca then got in touch with Lucy (the current English vaulting champion) to see if she'd learn the show and perform at Tendring.  Lucy learnt all the show very quickly, but having never worked on the microphone before found the commentary quite difficult.  This is the point at which I rang Becca to say my show had been cancelled, and before I knew it I found myself driving back down south again to go on a Jive Pony show as their commentator!

It was like I'd never been away.  Having spent so long learning my new lines for Galloping Acrobatics (and trying not to revert to Jive Pony scripts which seem ingrained in my head) I had to forget all my words and reinstate the old ones!  It was lovely commentating for a show without having to work a horse at the same time - and it's definitely easier to talk without huffing and puffing from having just finished vaulting!  The two shows went really well, despite difficult ground conditions, and we didn't even get rained on - always a bonus!  It was wet though, the stables were a virtual quagmire which meant stealing some extra straw bales from around the arena in an attempt to bed them down better.  We decided it didn't really matter though as the bales were so wet nobody was sitting on them anyway!  Having dried off and packed down it was back to Becca's then straight back up to Yorkshire for me - I covered some miles that day!

The weekend after was scheduled to be the CLA Game Fair - one of my most favourite shows.  We have done the CLA every year, and always thoroughly enjoy it.  Last year we had four horses (Tinker, Casper, Ronan and Navvy) and performed three shows per day, but that really was too much and this year Becca had decided to cut down.  We were due to do just two solo shows per day - one as Jive Pony with Becca vaulting on Navvy and me commentating, and one as Galloping Acrobatics with me vaulting on Casper and Helen commentating.  We were all so looking forward to it, and were devastated when the news came through that they'd had to cancel.  So... What to do instead?  Go to the circus of course!

We'd been trying to all get together to go to Giffords Circus since early May when they started touring, but it had proved impossible so far.  All of a sudden we found we all had a free weekend so tickets were arranged and off we all went!  There was quite a few of us and it really was a bit like an old school Jive Pony reunion.  Aside from myself and Becca, there was Tim (whom none of us have seen since last September as he has hung up his clown shoes so hasn't been out this season) and Alex, Gemma (who we used to teach and is now clowning) and Mark (who we met at Blakesley Show in 2010 and built a lovely school for us to train in at Becca's - I really miss it!).  To top it all of my Mum came too which was lovely!

The show was fantastic, I absolutely loved it.  I urge anyone and everyone who lives in and around the Cotswolds to go and see it - more than once!  I'll hopefully be going back later in the season with Ben - if we can find the time...

That was on the Saturday and on the Sunday I had a couple more lorries to go and look at.  Once again they weren't quite what I was after, but I ended up right next to Longleat Safari Park, where Jimmy (a very good friend of Ben's) runs the 'Hunter's of the Sky' show.  I managed to talk my way in to free admission to the park and set about tracking Jimmy and his show down.  My timing was perfect, and I had a really good seat throughout the display.  It's always nice to see other birds flying, I get so used to all the ones at home that I forget how much fun it is to sit in an audience and watch a show where you don't know what's going to happen next.  At one point Jimmy had four vultures and seven kites flying all at once - I didn't know where to look!

It was a long drive back to Yorkshire from Longleat, but I did have a stop at Warwick Castle to pick up some eagle feathers.  The break in the journey was just what I needed, as by the time I got home I'd driven over five hundred miles since the morning!

The next weekend and there were no shows booked in, so no cancellations!  Early in the week though I had a call from Laura at the Devil's Horsemen asking if I was available at the weekend and would I like to work.  Never one to turn a show down I found myself on board their lorry (which I met at Carlisle so didn't have to drive down south again!) and headed up to Glamis Castle for their two day Countryside Festival.  We were going to perform one jousting show and one equestrian show on each day.  I was really looking forward to the equestrian show, as I would be working the standing saddle on Cuthbert (as I did at HOYS back in 2009) before trick riding on him too.  You can see a little bit of one of the shows in the video below.

All the shows over the two days went really well, and I really enjoyed myself.  It's so nice to be on a show where you have no responsibility!  Trick riding is similar but different to vaulting, like the difference between cross country and show jumping, and it's always nice to do something a bit different for a change.  Cuthbert was brilliant as usual, although much faster than either of my two - it always takes me a couple of runs to get used to the speed!  

I also caught up with a good friend of Ben's at the show, Mark Wylie, who does the brilliant Drakes of Hazard dog and duck show - and whose sister make delicious shortbread!  One of my favourite things about the shows is catching up with different people at each event, and why I was so disappointed about all the cancellations.  However, as you can see I kept very busy and am now looking forward to our next show, Ibstock Country Fair on Sunday 19th August - lets just hope it doesn't have to cancel!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can see some photos from the past month here.

Love Rosie xx

Friday, 6 July 2012

Brocklesby Country Fair

 Photography by JFK at

 Photography by JFK at 

Last Saturday Helen, myself, Tinker and Casper set off for Brocklesby Country Fair where we were going to be performing on Sunday.  We were minus Jess as she lives relatively close so was planning to meet us there on Sunday morning.  Arriving on site we were told we would probably need to be towed into position (as at Rawdon Fun Day a few weeks ago).  However, I floored the lorry and we got on with no problems at all!  Having set everything up we went off to mark out the arena - once we'd found the flattest, driest part!  Unfortunately the ground was quite soggy, but we found a spot that seemed ok and marked the circle out.

Back at the lorry we were joined by Richard from The Sheep Show for supper.  One of my favourite things about the shows is meeting people from other displays and getting to know them over the years - it's always lovely when you arrive at a show and bump into familiar faces!  Ben was at the show too and all three of us were next to one another in the Countryside Area - all very sociable!

Following supper Helen and I took Casper and Tinker out for a little exploration to see what we could see.  As it was nearly 10.30pm we couldn't see that much!  We pootled about the showground and although I took quite a few photos (Casper next to the steam gallopers for instance) none of them came out as it was just too dark!  We meandered back up to arena and had a little ride round just to show the boys where they would be working the next day, and then finally back to the lorry and into bed.

It rained ALL night.  Constantly and very very heavily.  In the morning everything was absolutely soaked, and the roof of the tent was practically resting on the horses backs and bottoms it was that weighed down with water!  We squelched up to the arena to reassess the ground, and although it was completely saturated we decided that we'd be ok to do the shows as planned.  We'd just come to this decision when the organisers came and asked us whether we thought we'd be safe to perform, or if we wanted to pull out.  Unfortunately, a number of other acts had had to cancel due to the arena conditions and weather, and they were convinced they'd end up with an empty arena for the entire day.  But the show must go on and on we went!

Casper had been a nightmare to warm up as I had taken him out of sight of Tinker, and he always panics a bit when he's on his own somewhere new.  He has separation anxiety which we have been working on, and he is getting better, but it's a very slow process!  Having charged about on the end of the lunge line for about fifteen minutes, plastering everything in mud, and not concentrating whatsoever, I was dreading the show.  I needn't have worried though as he went in and performed impeccably - as if the last half hour hadn't happened!  I was so very pleased with him, as the ground was extremely deep and very difficult to work in.  He tried so hard throughout the show, and even did his catch first time despite the high winds!  We were actually very lucky with the weather, and only got wet from the ground up, not from the sky down! 

Tinker's turn soon came around and we had an interesting moment whilst warming up.  We'd been twiddling about at the bottom of the large car park field before cantering up the long hill.  Tink was cantering smoothly up the hill and I was looking over to my right watching what was going on with the cars (and not really concentrating!), when all of a sudden Tinker shot forwards and charged off!  I grabbed his reins and looked round to find a pack of hounds chasing us!  The hunt had just been parading in the arena and were back in the car park loading up to leave when the hounds had spotted Tinker and myself and taken off after us.  The whipper in was running after the hounds shouting at them and trying to get them back under control.  Tinker has never been hunting, so luckily he didn't get wound up by the kerfuffle, but it was a very funny few minutes!

Our second show went through really well again, although Tinker did struggle in the deep ground as well.  Helen and Jess had done a brilliant job of moving the circle (without markings) onto a new piece of ground, as Casper and I had completely ruined the first circle, but it didn't take long to churn that one up too!  Following both shows everything was absolutely filthy - there was mud everywhere.  Me, Helen, Jess, both horses, costumes, props, tack, bunting everything - covered.  It has taken me a long long time to get everything clean since!  I have managed it though which is a good job as we're off to EST Leeds' Summer Fair this weekend.  EST is a charity which provides riding therapy for special needs and disabled children - using donkeys!  I'm very much looking forward to seeing all the donkeys, and last time Casper saw one he was fascinated - he just couldn't seem to decide what it was.  We're all hoping for sunshine for this weekend, as shows in the mud are much too hard work!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can see all the photos from a very muddy Brocklesby by clicking here.

Love Rosie xx

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Abinger Medieval Fair

Friday morning and Helen, Jess, Tinker, Casper and myself set off for the long journey down to Abinger Medieval Fair.  This was to be our furthest away show of the season, and it certainly was a long drive!  I had guessed it would take us six hours to do the 250 mile journey (the lorry is not the fastest thing on the road), but it ended up taking seven.  The first problem happened on the M1, somewhere down in Northamptonshire, when we were happily whizzing (I use the word in the loosest possible sense) along without a care in the world.  I looked in my mirror and suddenly realised that half of the lorry's skirting had come away from the body and was flapping around like a fish out of water.  EEEEEKKK!!!!!  We pulled off at the nearest exit and hastily found a layby.  I was busy trying to repair the damage with my trusty roll of red gaffa tape when a very helpful gentleman pulled up behind us and got out to help.  We obviously looked like three girls who didn't have a clue what we were doing as he promptly took charge and stuck everything back together with a very serious roll of extra sticky super grey gaffa tape.  Hooray!  We were back on the road again in no time.

The next problem we encountered was the M25.  Unfortunately we hit it at 4pm, not ideal on a Friday afternoon, and we proceeded to cover about five miles in the next hour.  Having got on our way again the only part of the journey left to overcome was the last wiggly woo bit to Abinger itself.  I was following the sat nav and it took us down the narrowest, windyest, steepest hill imaginable (about a 20% gradient apparently!).  My heart was in my mouth on the way down, just praying we wouldn't meet anyone coming in the opposite direction.  Luckily we didn't coming down the hill, but then there seemed to be no end of them.  Most people were very kind and either rammed their cars over as far as they could, or reversed back to the nearest passing place to let us come by.  However, one particular car did neither of these things, resulting in me having to get further over than I really could - and bashing one of my hub caps in in the process!  On top of this we had been scraping along past trees and hedges which I don't think did the paintwork much good.  Needless to say I have now purchased an HGV specific sat nav...

We finally arrived in the village with the lorry in a much poorer state of repair than it had been when we left home - oops!  This seemed to matter even more as we were sited on the driveway of a gorgeous house, with beautiful grounds surrounding it, all obviously very cared for - we looked like a right bunch of scruff pots in comparison!  Katie, the organiser, came to meet us, and showed us a paddock where we could turn the boys out after their long journey.  They couldn't believe their luck to find themselves free in a big grassy field, and promptly galloped off bucking and farting!  Having got the tent and stables all set up (in another new record time!), it was time to get the boys back in and settle down for the night.

In the morning the boys went back out in their field for an hour for a leg stretch and when I went to get them in again they were absolutely filthy.  They were both not only grass stained, but had also obviously found a muddy patch - so they both ended up having virtually full baths again!  Luckily the fair wasn't due to open until 2pm, so the boys had plenty of time to dry.  We spent the morning doing the usual jobs - checking the music, marking out the arena (once it was set up), showing the horses the arena, setting up the shop etc etc.  The fair set up was brilliant.  There was absolutely nothing on the green when we arrived on Friday evening, but by midday on Saturday there was an arena, PA system, endless stalls all decorated beautifully, a tombola with an impressive array of alcoholic prizes, a sheath tossing arena, flags and banners everywhere, and everyone involved was wearing medieval dress - all done in the space of a morning!

Before long it was time for our show.  We were doing things a bit differently for Abinger, and were going to be performing our longer two horse show, as we did at the private wedding back in May.  I couldn't decide which costume I wanted to wear, as I love my spotty dress but it was a very windy day and I didn't want more of the same problems I had had at Rawdon Fun Day the previous weekend.  Shorts, dress, shorts, dress - I just couldn't decide.  So I decided to wear both - problem solved!  I put the shorts on underneath my dress so when the wind blew my skirt right over my head it wouldn't matter as much!

I start the show on Casper and we were cantering around doing the introduction when disaster struck.  Casper managed to shy slightly at one of the billowing flags, which wouldn't have been a problem, but at the same time he ran into one of the bases knocking it over, tripped over the bunting and nearly fell flat on his face.  He managed to right himself but I wasn't so lucky and hit the ground with a massive thud, which I'm sure reverberated through the mic in my hand and over the speakers!  If that wasn't embarrassing enough, it was at the point in the introduction when I had just said 'remarkable feats of equestrianism, the likes of which you will never have seen before!'.  Whoops.  What could I do other than jump back up and say 'you see ladies and gentlemen, I told you you would never have seen this sort of thing before!'  The whole thing was so funny, it couldn't have been more embarrassing, and I am giggling away as I write this now!  Two of the stewards quickly dismantled the offending flag, and it was on with the show as if nothing had happened!  Thankfully, the rest of the show went through absolutely flawlessly.  Casper redeemed himself by doing a fantastic dance and chasing me the best he ever has.  I was sprinting as fast as I could around the arena and he was charging after me, and doing fantastic rears every time I asked.  The Roman Riding went without a hitch, and I managed one legged stands on both of them alternatively in canter which I was really pleased with.  Following the Roman Riding, Tinker skipped beautifully and then was lovely to vault on for the rest of the show - I always breathe a sigh of relief when Tinker comes on!  The audience were absolutely brilliant as well, I think the best we have had so far.  There was a collective gasp when I came off, a round of applause when I got back on, and then lots of laughing, clapping and cheering throughout - just what we like!  Following the show we were due to fill the rest of our fifty minute slot with a ten minute meet and greet.  However, we got absolutely mobbed and after fifteen minutes had to move the shop, horses and crowd out of the arena where we stayed for about another fifteen to twenty minutes!  We sold hundreds of posters, keyrings and horseshoes, and answered endless questions - happy days!

It was a real shame when it was all over, as it really was a lovely afternoon.  Everyone was so friendly and we were looked after extremely well.  You can see some photos of the weekend by clicking here, and I'll be uploading some more taken by Katie in the next few days.  There was so much praise following the show I was made to blush on a number of occasions, but my favourite comment came from Robert, the gentleman who put us up on his driveway, who said 'That was the best fair entertainment I've seen in over fifty years!'. 

We packed down as fast as we could (not as fast as the fair though - by the time we drove past the green it was completely clear and virtually deserted!) in order to get set off on the long journey home as soon as possible.  We were on course for the drive to be six hours, possibly even less, but it was not to be.  There were night closures on the A1, which meant a massive diversion right through the centre of Pontefract, before getting on to the M62 and finally back on to the A1.  It was a very tired team who eventually got home at about 1.30am!

We're off to Brocklesby Country Fair this weekend, where it'll be back to normal with the two single shows - I just hope Casper stays upright this time!  I'll let you know how we get on.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Rawdon Fun Day

Last weekend it was sunglasses and shorts, this weekend it was wellies and waterproofs!  We were due to leave on Friday afternoon for Rawdon Fun Day on Saturday, but on talking to Mark, the organiser, on Friday morning they were unfortunately planning to either cancel the day entirely, or postpone it to Sunday.  We kept all our fingers, toes and hooves crossed that it would go ahead as planned, and by midday we were on!  So Tinker, Casper, Helen, Jess and myself trundled off as planned - hoping for at least a break in the rain, if not some sunshine!

On arrival it was clear why Mark had been so concerned.  The field was totally sodden, and absolutely ruined where vehicles had been trying to get through.  We got as far as we could but then had to unload the horses before having a tractor tow us into position - never a good omen!  Having set the tent and stables up (far quicker than at the Yorkshire Game Fair!) we went to mark the circle out and assess the arena.  One word - squelchy.  It was the most perfect size, round, and relatively flat, but just very, very wet.  We would definitely be having to move the circle in between the two shows.  Having got everything set up, and the horses settled down (two bales of straw just to try and keep them a bit dry), it was time for bed - and time to listen to the rain batter the lorry all night...

Come the morning and it was still raining.  I took a very excitable Casper for some work and it wasn't long before his lovely white legs were covered in mud - so much for his bath!  Having worked him in the arena a bit we'd finished just before the show opened - with cannons!  The cannon blasts were in series' of three, with each bang getting progressively louder.  The first one was ok, the second one made me jump, and the third blast was so incredibly loud it set off some car alarms!  I can genuinely say now that both my horses are bomb proof - they didn't even flinch!

Ben was also at the Fun Day with his Eagles and Vultures, and having him at a show always makes me enjoy it more.  Once the rain had stopped (which it did briefly) the conditions were perfect for his birds, and his first show went really well.  The birds flew spectacularly as the wind coming up the hill was quite strong and ideal for them.  Not so ideal for me though, and it was still blowing a gale as Casper and I went in for the first show.  Everything went well until the start of Casper's dance.  Helen asked for the music and no music came.  She then asked again only to realise that her microphone wasn't working either.  Neither was mine.  So, with no music, and no mics, we carried on as best we could.  And then it started raining.  A lot.  We ploughed on through with Helen and myself both shouting as best we could, but the audience just couldn't hear what we were saying over the wind and the rain.  Despite the setbacks people stayed around the arena and when we got to the final freestyle we set everybody off clapping a rhythm for me to vault to.  Needless to say the vaulting was a bit dicey.  Casper had had enough of the weather by this point (he doesn't like the rain at the best of times!), and showed it by putting his head down and back up - not ideal for vaulting!  I managed a full freestyle on him though (still just to the clapping - thank you to everyone who did!), but I have to admit I was very glad to get out of the arena by the end of what seemed like a very long show!

We'd only just got back to the stable tent when the music came back on and the commentator could be heard again!  It turned out that a trailer door had slammed shut in the wind severing a power cable which had caused the whole system to short circuit.  Typical!  By this point the rain had stopped as well, so we were just hoping for a better time of it for the second show!

Ben's second show also went really well, with the birds again flying beautifully - and then it was our turn.  The weather had broken and during the show we even had brief spells of sunshine - I'm sure I saw my shadow at one point!  The show went through very well, with the only problem being the wind.  My dress really isn't very suitable for windy days - all I can say is it's a good job I have very big knickers on!  You can see from the photos what problems I was having - even standing on the ground it wouldn't stay down.  We also had a small break in proceedings just before Tinker's dance as the Air Ambulance was due to leave.  We were asked if we wanted to take Tinker out of the arena whilst the helicopter flew out, but no need for that with the Tink - I didn't even hold him and he stood like a rock even as the helicopter went right over us!  The rest of the show went really well, and it was great to finish on a high.  Lots of people followed us back to the stable tent afterwards for meet and greet - again, I'm sure this is Tinker and Casper's favourite part of the day!

Before long we were packed down and ready to be towed off the field.  It seemed a shame to be going as they were in the midst of a brilliant welly wanging competition, and I'd have loved to have had a go!  You can see hundreds (literally!) of photos of the day by clicking here.  Despite the weather and power cut we had a lot of fun, and it's good to know we can carry on with the show regardless.  We've got a long drive tomorrow as we're off down to Guildford for Abinger Medieval Fair.  It'll be a bit different to usual there though, as instead of doing two one horse shows we're doing one two horse show - the same as we did at the private wedding show back in May.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x  

Friday, 8 June 2012

Yorkshire Game Fair

Credit: Karen Mitchell at The Peppermint Gallery

Last Friday myself, Helen, Jess, Tinker and Casper trucked off to Stockeld Park, Wetherby, for the Yorkshire Game Fair.  We were there to perform two shows on both Saturday and Sunday, and it was due to be a weekend of firsts!

This was the first show at which we had to set up the stable tent, which I had only finished putting together the previous weekend.  I had reckoned on it taking about an hour for us to work everything out and get it all set up satisfactorilySo, two and a half hours later...!  Once we were finally set up we took Casper up to the arena for a run through, which went far smoother than the tent set up!  Having finally got the horses sorted and settled, and fed ourselves, it was a very late bed time and we were all shattered!

Saturday was another glorious day and we were due on at 11am with Casper and then 4.30pm with Tinker.  This was to be Casper's first big show of the season (his second ever!), Helen's first big show commentating and Galloping Acrobatics' first big public appearance.  To say we were all slightly nervous is an understatement!  On came the music and in we went!!  I can honestly say I really enjoyed the entire show.  Casper was lovely to vault on and did a perfect dance.  Helen's commentary was brilliant and the crowd clapped and cheered in all the right places - success!  We were absolutely buzzing when we came out and really looking forward to the second show.  Helen's parent's and younger sister were there and having not seen us since our little demo at Richmond were suitably impressed!

The afternoon whizzed by and before we knew it it was time for Tinker's show.  This was the very first time we had run the show through with an audience, but once again everything went smoothly.  I haven't vaulted on Tinker at an outdoor show since Frampton Show last September as Jive Pony, and I have really missed it.  It was just brilliant to be out in front of an audience with Tinker.  He is so lovely to vault on - I don't even have to think about him, I just know and trust him completely.  Although I love vaulting on Casper he is still at a stage where I have to concentrate on him throughout; making sure every move is at a point where he can cope with it, taking into account all the variables in an arena and how they may affect him, encouraging him that he's doing the right thing and correcting him if not - it's hard work!  With Tinker I can just enjoy myself, as I know he'll always (99.99% of the time!) be there for me.  The amount of appreciation I have for Tinker has only been heightened since his operation (more on this anon), and the possibility that I may not have him with me anymore.  Needless to say I enjoyed the show more than I can say, and everyone who came to see us afterwards commented on how much fun we looked like we were having!  You can see a little bit of what we got up to in the video below.

On Saturday evening Helen and I took the boys out exploring to see what we could see.  We had a lovely ride all around the show ground, past the gun dogs, clay shooting, stalls, lurcher racing, zorbing, crafts and poultry - just to name a few sections!  We then went out all around the park, before going up to the house and then making our way back home.  Then it was supper and bed before doing it all again tomorrow!

Sunday was another scorcher of a day, and there were even more people we knew coming to see us - no pressure then!  Casper's show went through well until the chasing and rearing section.  I run out of the circle with Casper chasing me, up to one side of the arena where I do a count down - 'THREE, TWO, ONE, HIGH!!'  On 'high' Casper rears right up, before we run off to the next side of the arena and repeat the exercise.  Jess was holding Tinker at the side of the arena, just to give Casper some moral support throughout the show.  As we ran past Tinker Casper was obviously reluctant to leave him.  Still, he chased me down to the bottom of the arena (quite a fair slope) where I asked him for the rear.  'THREE, TWO, ONE...'  Casper just looked at me, turned around and cantered back up the hill to Tinker.  '...BYE!'  So I then had to race back up the hill after him - very embarrassing!  Other than that the show went through really well so I was very pleased with him.

We passed the time between the two shows wandering around the stalls, where we found the Cyclo-ssage stand.  I always love a free massage so we were on the demo table without further ado and had a lovely twenty minute of being vibrated, heated up and wobbled!  We also watched Ben's (my boyfriend) Eagle and Vulture Show, as he was flying the birds in the main arena.  It was lovely to see them fly, as although I see them every day it's not quite the same at home.

Our afternoon show with Tinker went through really well again, and lots of people followed us back to the stables to see the horses and talk to us.  I think this is Tinker and Casper's favourite part of the day, they get so much fuss from everyone! 

It was finally time to pack down (much quicker than setting up!) and come home - our weekend of firsts was finally over!  We had a brilliant time, and you can see a few photos here.  We're off to Rawdon Fun Day tomorrow, where we will be performing on Saturday - I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie xx

Friday, 18 May 2012

Private Wedding Show

Credit: Grayswood Computers Ltd

Last Friday myself, Helen (my lovely commentator), Jess (my lovely helper), Tinker and Casper headed down the A1 to Hilton, Cambridgeshire.  We were due to have a full day on Saturday working at a friend's wedding.  Originally Nikki had asked me to be a guest at her marriage to Chris, along with doing a show for entertainment in the evening.  In addition Nikki and Chris were going to ride the horses from the church down to the village green reception.  This was all fine and well, but then with two weeks to go Nikki asked me if I would like to be a bridesmaid as one of her original ones had had to drop out!  Of course I said yes, but that then left me with a very, very full day!

Having arrived and settled in on Friday evening we took the horses for a wander to let them see where we would be performing.  It was a lovely little paddock and just the right size for us, with a broken hedge down one side into another paddock which meant we had somewhere to warm up and enter from, and a fence half way down right across for the audience to stand on the other side of - perfect!  The owners of the land had been very worried that we wouldn't be able to use it as it had been so wet, but given the last few days of sunshine it had dried out brilliantly and was just about perfect for us!

Following a snug night in the lorry (it really is a bit too small for three of us!) Saturday morning was spent walking the horses the route they would have to take with the bride and groom, before I rushed off to have my hair done, leaving Helen and Jess to plait the boys' tails and put ribbon in them.  Once my hair was done I came back to the stables and plaited Tinker's mane, showing Helen how to do a running plait so she could do Casper's mane.  I then started Jess off threading ribbon through their manes before abandoning them all again to finish polishing the horses and tack up, as I had to go and get my dress on (never seen before yet alone tried on!) and do my make up.  Once that was done we were off to the church for the wedding!  It was a beautiful ceremony and as I was bridesmaid I had one of the best seats in the house!  Nikki and Chris both did really well not to cry, although I thought they were both going to go at one point.  I'm glad they didn't as I'm sure it would have set me off too!

As soon as we were out of the church and the bells were ringing Helen and Jess bought the horses down.  We did a lot of photographs without them and then bought them around the back of the church so they could have some photos taken with the bride and groom.  One shot in particular involved the horses standing grazing on one side of the church wall, with Nikki and Chris in the church door in the background.  However, the horses obviously still needed holding so Helen and Jess ended up crouching behind the wall with the boys' reins over the wall - it's always funny what the camera can't see!

Having got Nikki and Chris onto the horses (not so easy in Nikki's case!) they then walked down past the village green where the guests were waiting, and into 'the wilderness' for more photos.  Tinker and Casper were brilliant, and struck all kinds of poses for the photographer.  Whilst Casper is very photogenic I very often struggle to get Tinker to prick his ears for the camera - he prefers the laid back asleep look!  Luckily I had a very long pearl necklace on, and when I jangled it and jumped up and down in front of him he actually pricked his ears endlessly - turns out he can smile on demand after all! 

Once the photos were finished with it was back to the stables to untack (still in my dress!) and allow the boys a little bit of time to themselves.  We then went back down to the village green where there was a fantastic picnic spread for everybody.  The menu was amazing, Nikki and Chris had made all sorts of things including vegetarian scotch eggs (delicious!), pigeon pate with pickled grapes and ciabatta bread to name but a few things.  The girls and I had about thirty minutes where we didn't have anything to do, which was lovely, but then it was action stations again!

We left the picnic early and went back to do all our show preparation.  This meant warming up, tacking up, warming up both the horses, getting into costume and getting down to the paddock for last minute warm up.  We then had to go and call all the guests over ('ROLL UP, ROLL UP, PREPARE TO BE DAZZLED!') to the show.  The whole thing was a complete surprise for them and I have to say they did look surprised!  They followed us down the track to the paddock and then it was on with the show!

We'd put together a special two horse show which involved a bit of everything - vaulting, dances, chasing, rearing, Roman riding and skipping - so for the next thirty minutes we were flat out!  Casper and Tinker both went really well, although Tinker tried to charge off during the skipping, Casper missed his first catch (but again, as in Morpeth, this was entirely my own fault), and then right at the very end when I was in stand Tinker very uncharacteristically jumped sideways as the crown cheered and I half fell half jumped off!  I landed on my feet though, ran around and jumped back on - I don't think many people even noticed! 

Following the show we sorted the horses out, and then it was on with the clean smart clothes (back into the bridesmaid dress for me) and off to the village hall for the party!  We missed the cutting of the cake (yummy chocolate), but saw the first dance, and then spent most of the evening dancing ourselves.  There was a late night barbeque which was again delicious, and for the first time we could all actually spend plenty of time and eat as much as we liked!  One of the highlights of the evening was right at the end, when Nikki threw her bouquet.  We were all standing behind her and she threw it high into the air, only for it to hit the beam above her head and land in a dishevelled heap about a foot behind her.  The second attempt at the throw had me worried as it seemed to be heading straight for my head, but at the last minute Helen (who was standing right in front of me) made an almighty leap - and caught it!  Her's will be the next wedding then!!  

It was a very tired team that eventually made it to bed on Saturday night, but luckily we didn't have anything to do in the morning other than load the horses up and truck on back to Yorkshire.  The journey home was quite long but unbelievably easy, basically just the A1.  For miles.  And miles.  It was worth it though as we all had a brilliant weekend, the sun shone, and everything went to plan.  Nikki and Chris are now on their honeymoon, which sounds amazing (travelling around Argentine for three weeks visiting polo yards amongst other things), and of which I am very jealous!  Although we didn't manage to get any photos of the weekend (too busy to take any!), we have managed to collect a few - just click here to see them.  As soon as we get some more from the photographer I'll add them to the album and let you know!

We've got a weekend off this weekend but then on Friday 26th we're off to Stockheld Park in Wetherby for the two day Yorkshire Game Fair.  I'm really looking forward to this one, so keep all your fingers crossed for sunshine and I'll let you know how we get on!

Rosie xx

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Spring Demo Tour with Hannah Dawson Equine

Casper and I have recently done three little shows as part of Hannah Dawson Equine's Spring Demo Tour.  We visited three venues in Yorkshire and Northumberland, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  Hannah did an informative display using her two horses, Toby and India, all about clicker training and the benefits of positive reinforcement techniques.  Galloping Acrobatics were then the 'Special Guests', and Casper and I took to the floor to perform one of our shows.  Here's what happened!

Richmond Equestrian Centre - Tuesday 27th March
The first demo was the most local one to me, so there were quite a few people in the audience that I knew - no pressure then!  Having arrived and given Casper a run through we waited backstage for our turn.  Finally the music came on and we were in!  Despite a slightly iffy first circle or so where Casper was busy looking at himself in the mirror, he settled brilliantly and did a fantastic show.  He chased me like a superstar and did the biggest rear yet!  The show ran exactly to plan and I was so pleased with Casper - he's never gone better!

Pegasus Equestrian Center, Morpeth - Monday 2nd April
The second demo was quite a way away, and unfortunately the weather was miserable.  I was warming up (if you can call it that!) in the freezing rain for what seemed like hours, and couldn't wait to get started.  Thankfully once we got in and got going Casper and I soon both thawed out and dried off, and the show went perfectly!  The only thing we messed up on was Casper's catch, and it was entirely my fault - I threw my cardigan right past his face so even though he tried to catch it he couldn't help but miss it!  I do throw like a proper girl... 

Ledston Equine Centre - Thursday 5th April
Our third and final venue was at Ledson Equine Centre, and we had the biggest audience yet.  Once again I was warming up outside but this time with no lights!  Luckily it was a very bright full moon and riding Casper was just beautiful - I was feeling really privileged and confident.  However, just as we were about to go in Casper saw something (I have no idea what - a horse savaging rabbit perhaps?) which really frightened himHe then proceeded to stamp about snorting and being ridiculous, to the point where I didn't think I'd even get him in the arena!  Hey ho, on came the music and on with the show.  He did two circles being a bit silly but then settled down as if nothing had happened!  Unfortunately the music also went wrong, being either non-existent or horribly jumpy.  That makes life quite difficult when your entire performance is strictly choreographed!  Thankfully the last track played through so we were able to finish on a high - PHEW!

Doing the demos was lots of fun, I met many lovely enthusiastic people and Casper was an absolute pleasure the entire time (bar about ten minutes at Ledston!).  Big thank you's to Hannah, Rachel and Willie - and of course the lovely Helen, who not only helped Hannah throughout but was a brilliant commentator and helper to me.  Hannah has put together a little video of the demos, it's mostly of the clicker work but there's a bit of Casper and me at the very start and the very end - enjoy!

The shows were brilliant to get Casper out and about again, and for him to perform in front of an audience which he hasn't done since last summer.  I now can't wait for the show season to start!  Our first show is a bit of a special one, it's at a friend's wedding and we've put together a special two horse show.  It'll have skipping horses, dances, roman riding, vaulting and all sorts thrown in!  I'll let you know how it all goes!