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