Thursday, 15 August 2013

Tunstall Carnival

Well it was a few weeks ago now, but I've been that busy I'm only just writing about it now!  Saturday 27th July and myself, Helen, Tinker, Casper and (yet another new girl!) Carrie set off for Tunstall Carnival.  As we all know, it's been absolutely beautiful weather all summer, but just as we arrived on site the skies opened and it absolutely poured with rain!  Having set up as best we could (leaving as much as possible on the lorry), we settled down for the night.  

Unfortunately the stable tent has seen better days, and has pretty much lost all its waterproofness. So although the boys had a roof over their heads for the night, they were nonetheless pretty soggy come the morning.  In addition to this it sags all over and collects massive pools of water, meaning I had to get up in the night to empty it - not much fun!  A new marquee is top of my shopping list for next year!!

Thankfully by the morning the rain had eased off, and it actually came out quite nice for a while.  I had a really good morning practise on Casper, which I was especially pleased with as there was a fairground right next to us and he settled down very quickly.  Before too long it was time for the show, and unfortunately the rain started again just as we finished our warm up.  It then stopped again as we went into the arena and we thought our luck was in!  Casper was lovely, he did brilliant dancing and tricks, and was great to vault on. The arena was on a bit of a slope, which he normally uses as an excuse for naughtiness, but he held himself together beautifully so I was really pleased with him.  Towards the end of the show though our luck ran out.  Just as I started the explanation freestyle the rain came back - with a vengeance!  I haven't been rained on that heavily in a show (or at all in fact!) for years!  Casper took exception to it as well and kept trying to canter off.  I can hardly blame him, I'd have run away if I could.  However, it meant Helen had to lead him around so he stayed in walk, so not only were we all getting absolutely drenched, but I looked like I was on a lead rein too - not my best moment!  You can see from the little video below just how wet it was!

Unfortunately it really was too torrential to finish the show with the canter freestyle.  Especially with the arena slope it was just too dangerous.  We did canter round waving the fan to finish, and even though we'd lost most of the audience by that point, there were a remarkable number who stayed until the end clapping and cheering, albeit huddled together under umbrellas!  It had got to the point where we were all so wet it didn't really matter that it was raining any more.  By the time we'd got back to the tent, and the girls had packed the arena away we all looked like we'd been swimming.  We literally had to peel our costumes off, as well as everything else as we were all totally soaked to the skin.  Our make up didn't fair too well either and we all looked like very sad clowns!  Poor Carrie, it was her first day with us and not the best introduction.  Helen and I just kept apologising and telling her it usually is lots of fun, although I'm not sure she believed us!!

Not to worry, we're not made of sugar and we soon dried off.  We got into clean dry costume and I was just tacking Tinker up ready for a quick warm up before his display when we heard an announcement over the PA system that due to the weather they were cancelling the show, and thank you everyone for coming. Eeek! I raced up to see what was going on, and the organisers had in fact decided the ground conditions were too risky, and were already dismantling the arena.  It was such a shame, as of course the sun then came out and was blazing hot for the rest of the afternoon.  We were all very disappointed as we love doing the shows and it's always such a shame when events out of your control mean you are unable to.  I am very much hoping we will be able to return to Tunstall Carnival next year and be able to do two shows in glorious sunshine!  All the organisers were so lovely, so I hope for their sake as well next year is a scorcher.

We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to dry everything out as best we could whilst also packing away, although I'll still be spending the next week desperately trying to sort out and clean everything up. One hundred metres of soggy bunting is an absolute nightmare!

Next up is Garstang Show, where we will be performing our double act again.  It went really well at Byfleet Parish Day and it'll be the last time we're performing the double act this season, so I'm hoping it'll go out on a high. I'll let you know soon!

Love Rosie x

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Byfleet Parish Day and Hampsthwaite Feast

The team at Byfleet Parish Day

Friday afternoon found us heading out on the road again, this time southwards!  We were on our way to Byfleet Parish Day, where we were due to perform our double act show.  As well as Helen, Tinker, Casper and myself, we had a new girl join us for the weekend called Courtney.  Poor Courtney was being thrown in at the deep end, as she had never even seen one of our shows before, so to do the double act straight off was a big ask!  We were planning on talking through the show a few times once we were set up and settled, but that plan went out the window as soon as we arrived!

Having finally found the (very small!) gate onto the recreation ground, there was unfortunately nobody there to meet us.  We then found out that the gate was padlocked, so we couldn't get in.  As we'd been travelling for about six and a half hours we dropped the ramp and got the boys off, much to the dismay of some local residents - I doubt they'd seen horses unload in the middle of the road before!  Luckily there was a pedestrian entrance onto the field, so Helen and Courtney took the horses in whilst I waited with the lorry.  It was quite comical really, as although many of the committee members turned up, the one person with the key couldn't be found.  In the end they ended up cutting the padlock to open the gate, so after nearly an hour I managed to join the horses!

That was the only mishap for the weekend though.  We had a really good rehearsal in the morning, and we ran through with Courtney what she'd be doing in the show.  I had a little vault on Tinker, just to ensure he didn't anticipate any dismounts - I didn't want a repeat of Crosby Carnival!  I also vaulted on Casper, ran through both their dances and played all Casper's games with him as well as practising his rear.  Both of them were very very keen for the tricks, and I'm pretty sure it was down to the fact that I had a good selection of apples as opposed to the carrots I normally use - sometimes it helps to work part time in a Greengrocers!  My favourite part of the practise was the Roman riding - especially the jumping where I definitely got some height, as you can see in the photo below!

I was slightly nervous about the show given how naughty Casper had been the week before, but I needn't have worried.  Both the boys were absolutely superb, and it was definitely our best double act to date!  We had loads of fun, the only slightly difficult thing was that Helen and I only had one mic between the two of us.  Bit of a challenge, especially as it was a head mic, but Helen managed to race towards me every time it was my turn to talk, so other than a few pregnant pauses the show was almost perfect!

Next stop was Hampsthwaite Feast back up in Yorkshire, so having packed up and said our goodbyes to Byfleet it was back up the M1 for us.  It was quite a drive and we didn't get to Hampsthwaite until about 11pm.  Luckily the organiser, Geoff, was there to meet us, and showed us the (thankfully open!) gate into the field.  However, there were to be problems with this gate too, as the angle it was on was tight and there was only a very small space to try and manoeuvre the lorry through it.  The lorry is just over ten meters long and is quite wide as well, so getting through small gates in the dark at the end of a long day is no small feat!  We managed it relatively easily though, and our aim of being all set up and in bed by midnight was only missed by about five minutes.  Needless to say we all slept like logs, and it wasn't until everybody arrived on site in the morning and started putting up stalls and arenas and such like that we woke up!

We didn't have much space for warm up, so I was slightly concerned that Casper hadn't been able to have his bucks and farts.  I needn't have worried though, as he did his best show to date!  He was absolutely perfect, doing all his dancing, games and tricks beautifully, and was a pleasure to vault on - what a change from last weekend!  Tinker was also lovely, and even managed not to stop at any inappropriate times - no tumbles for me!  I was so happy with  how the displays went, they were possibly my favourite of the season so far.

It's funny how things happen in pairs though, not only had we had trouble with the gates at the entrance to both sites over the weekend but at Hampsthwaite, just as at Byfleet, once again Helen and I only had one mic between the two of us.  We managed again though, and even did a couple of microphone baton changes with me cantering past and handing the mic to Helen as I went!  It was a good job we'd had some practise the day before with just the one mic!

We didn't manage to get any photos from Hampsthwaite unfortunately, but you can see a few from Byfleet here.  Next weekend we're going to be at Tunstall Carnival on Sunday, so I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Friday, 26 July 2013

Kirkcudbright Country Fair and Crosby Carnival

Photo by Sam Kelly
Photo by Helen Gilbertson

Friday afternoon and Helen, Sophie, Tinker, Casper and myself headed back up to Scotland again, this time bound for Kirkcudbright Country Fair.  We had been booked to appear at Kirkcudbright last year, but unfortunately it was one of the shows which succumbed to the awful weather, so we were delighted to be asked back.  Although it was a two day show we had already been booked to appear at Crosby Carnival in Liverpool on the Sunday, so we would just be doing the one day at Kirkcudbright.  Luckily the Interesting and Unusual Team from Birds of Prey Displays were available on the Sunday, so Benji and I were going to be tag teaming!

We arrived and set up with no problems, and it was a really beautiful setting.  We were right next to the river overlooking an old railway bridge.  The field was large so we set up a good size paddock for the boys and let them wander about to stretch their legs.  However, it wasn't long before we realised the menace of Kirkcudbright - horse flies!  There were hundreds of them!  We soon learnt that the locals call the 'Cleggs'.  I doused the boys (and myself!) in fly spray, but it had little effect - Cleggs are savage!  Over the course of our twenty-four hour stay I must have killed about 150 of them, no exaggeration.  I even got a few double whammies, killing two with one swat!  

Come the morning we were ready to go, and the show had set up some beautiful stands and marquees.  The arena was the perfect size for us, and although it was on a slight slope I didn't think it would cause any problems.  Casper was a bit excitable at the start of his show, and struggled to concentrate throughout his dance - he was more focused on trying to get the flies away!  There's a little video up on YouTube of me vaulting on the excitable Casper, which you can see below.

Soon it was Tinker's turn, and things didn't go quite to plan at the very start!  I was introducing the show kneeling up in prince sit on his back, talking away down the mic and as we were cantering down the slope Tinker (very uncharacteristically I might add!) stumbled.  Eeek!  I went straight over his head, but somehow twisted in mid air and managed to land on my feet!  Tinker stopped dead and I think he was as surprised as I was to find myself standing up next to him rather than on his back!  'Well, that's not in the script Ladies and Gentlemen, we told you you'd see tricks you wouldn't believe, but that's not one of them!'  Back on I jumped and thankfully the rest of the show went really well!  There was so many lovely things at the show, and aside from our photos there is lots on flickr!

Before long we were packed up and trucking back down south, although only to Liverpool so not too far!  We arrived for Crosby Carnival not too late, and were soon in place with the horses off the lorry.  The site is a primary school field, and we were informed that as the field was totally enclosed we could just let the horses go - so we did!  Typically, the first thing they did was head off to the playground to clatter about, before climbing the mound surrounding the school to survey the area.  They had a bit of a charge about, but soon settled down to the serious task of eating.  Standard.

In the morning I took Casper into the arena for a practise, and he was foot perfect.  He was lovely to vault on, and did his full dance and all his games beautifully.  This always makes me slightly nervous, and unfortunately when the time came for his show he didn't behave quite so well!  He did a couple of unscheduled laps of the arena on his own, although he did come back and was very good to vault on afterwards - I just think he needed to let off a bit of steam!  Either that or he was determined to go and meet the donkeys that were there - he's always fascinated by them!

Tinker's show was once again lovely, although I took another tumble!  I haven't fallen off in a show for ages and ages, and then to do it twice in one weekend...  This time it was entirely Tinker's vault, no excuses!  I was at the end of my first freestyle and I usually do a big jump off from stand to finish.  Tinker is very good at stopping dead as soon as I dismount, and is usually stopped by the time I hit the ground.  However, the little monkey pre-empted my dismount by about two strides, so whilst I was happily standing up on his back, waving at the crowd and just about to jump off, he just stopped.  Dead.  Straight over his head I went again, this time with quite a bit of speed!  I'm not quite sure how I did it but I managed to turn the fall into a rolypoly before jumping to my feet and presenting.  I got a big round of applause, and having spoken to quite a few people afterwards it seems nobody even realised that wasn't what was supposed to happen!  I don't think I'll be putting it in the show as a permanent fixture though...

We had so much lovely feedback from people at both shows over the weekend, so we were really happy.  All the audiences were great, clapping and cheering in all the right places, and we met some lovely folk at both shows - so thank you if you were there.  We only got a couple of photos at Crosby unfortunately, but you can see them here.

We've another road trip next weekend, although this one's a longer haul.  We're off down to Byfleet on Friday which is just inside the M25, and will be performing our double act show at Byfleet Parish Day on Saturday.  Then we'll be packing up and trucking back up north, ready to perform at Hampsthwaite Feast on the Sunday.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Friday, 12 July 2013

Small Holders Show

Photo by Helen Gilbertson

Photo by Jenna Davies

Last weekend we were 375 miles North, and this weekend we were 285 miles South!  We set off for The Small Holders Show and trucked on and on down the motorway, making really good time - until we hit the M25!  I know it should always be avoided on Friday afternoons but unfortunately we couldn't help it.  Having sat virtually stationary for an hour, we finally arrived on site at about 8pm.  The show was on the South of England Showground, and although I didn't think I'd been there before, as soon as we drove on I recognised it, and remembered having performing there quite a while ago with the Devil's Horsemen!

It was a really beautifully set out show, and it had a lovely feel to it as soon as we arrived.  We parked up just behind a pond next to the main arena, and let the horses out in the arena.  They were very grateful to get their heads down for some grass after the long journey - they've covered some miles in the last week or so!  Having got everything set up and the arena marked out we settled down for the night.  We had another new girl with us for the weekend, Sophie, and as she'd never seen a show before I'm not sure she knew quite what to expect!

The weekend was set to be a scorcher and it certainly was!  I can't remember the last time it was so hot, so putting all my costume and make up on, and the doing a show was absolutely exhausting!  I'm not complaining, it's infinitely better than the July we had last year, when every single one of our shows were forced to cancel because of the bad weather.  What a difference a year makes!

Both the shows went through really well on Saturday, and in the afternoon (after a much needed shower - I do love my lorry!) Helen and I went for a wander about to see what we could see.  There was lots there and I especially loved the rescue Ginuea Pig stand, Pooh Piglet.  I have a real soft spot for Guinea Pigs!  There was all sorts of different animals there, everything from Llamas and Alpacas to Tortoises, Geese, Pigs and Chickens - something for everybody!  We had a lovely evening as well, as we borrowed a couple of benches from around the arena and using the shop table in a new guise had our supper al fresco!  

Sunday morning and it was time to do it all over again.  Casper's show was an interesting one, as I didn't really feel like he was concentrating, especially throughout his games section.  The reason for this soon became clear though.  It was just before the final canter freestyle, and Helen had just asked for 'some music please!  And please feel free to clap along!'  On came the music and to my horror, Casper started to stretch out for a wee!  'Cut the music!' said Helen, and Casper started weeing.  And continued.  For ages.  It was honestly the longest wee I have seen in a long time, the poor boy must have been absolutely bursting.  He must have been desperate as he is normally very shy when it comes to having a wee.  Whenever we stop on long journeys we have to take him off away from everybody and turn our backs on him before he'll go, so to do it in the middle of an arena in front of hundreds of people is really unusual.  Anyway, he obviously felt much better afterwards, as after what felt like an eternity he went straight off into canter and we finished the show with aplomb!

Tinker's show went really well as well.  He'd been quite lazy the day before so I'd got after him a bit during our warm up and he was perfect in the show.  I can't really blame him as it was very hot, but trying to trot during canter freestyles is absolutely not acceptable!  Him and Casper have it easy as they only have to do one show a day each - Helen and I have to do two!

The show organisers were lovely, and very kindly allowed us to leave site an hour early, so we managed to get away by 4pm.  The journey back was much better, and we arrived home after just six and a half hours - all very tired though!  Sophie must have enjoyed her debut as she's coming again next weekend.  It's going to be a bit of a monster though, as we're at Kirkcudbright Country Fair up in Scotland on Saturday, followed by driving straight down to Liverpool for Crosby Carnival on Sunday, before packing up again to come home - phew!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime, click here for some photos from the Small Holders Show.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Tain Gala

Photos by Helen Gilbertson

It was a long old journey up to Tain Gala, but a very beautiful one!  And although it took just over nine hours, we did stop three times to get the horses off for a wee (Tink can't hold it as long since his operation unfortunately!).  It was one of the easiest drives as well, just lots and lots and lots of motorway!  It was a journey I wasn't looking forward to, but actually I'd happily do it again!

We arrived on Friday evening and turned the boys out in the arena which they were very happy about.  They both had a good roll and got themselves as grass stained as possible, before settling down to the serious task of eating - standard! 

Steve Colley was also on site, as he was due to perform as well, and it was really good to see him as our paths haven't crossed for ages!  It was quite a big bunch of us he greeted, as not only were myself, Helen and Helen's sister Megan on board, but also Anne Marie, a friend of Helen's from America who had come to stay for the week.  I did feel a bit sorry for Anne Marie, as she'd had a hectic week already.  She'd flown into Southampton on Tuesday, before getting the train to Manchester and then a bus to Leeds.  Helen had collected her and taken her to Bedale (North Yorkshire), and then she had to spend all day in the lorry on Friday travelling up to the Highlands of Scotland.  Fair to say she managed to see quite a lot of the UK in a very short space of time!

On Saturday morning we were joined by Dingle Fingle, and it was great to see him as once again I've not seen him for quite a while.  One of my very favourite things about shows is meeting up with people on the circuit - you never quite know who you're going to bump into at which show!  We also met a lovely chap on a penny farthing, and of course it wasn't long before both Helen and I had managed to have a go ourselves.  Needless to say I think I'll stick to the horses!

We'd been asked by the organisers if we would take part in the parade through the town, and although we didn't take a horse Helen and I got all dolled up in our costume and off we went.  We got a lift up from Dingle in his comedy car, which was definitely an experience in itself!  We all paraded through the town ahead of all the floats, doing plenty of cartwheels as we went.  I did feel a bit lost without a horse, as both Steve and Dingle were able to do loads of tricks, .  It was brilliant to watch Steve, he really is amazing at what he does.  He was bouncing his bike off walls and all sorts, whizzing around Helen and I, and hopping up on the back, front and side of Dingle's car - it was all great fun!

Once we were back on the show field the arena entertainment kicked off, and before we knew it it was our turn!  The organisers had decided to go for the double act after all, so we all went in together.  The show went through really well, despite Casper doing his now habitual lap of honour on his own.  He really is very naughty, but we've managed to write it into the script, and everybody loves it when he goes (everybody apart from me that is!).  The Roman riding went the best it ever has, I did all sorts on them so was really happy with that.  The only problem we had was that we couldn't hear the music at all.  The was a very loud fairground right next to the arena, and although the audience could hear our music I struggled to hear it at all - not the best when everything is very choreographed!  We managed though, and it was actually very fortuitous that we had Anne Marie, as an extra pair of hands is always useful during the double act show!

We managed to watch Dingle's act at the end of the day, which is always hilarious.  Helen and I both made the mistake of turning our backs at one point though - and we both got thoroughly soaked by Dingle and his fire hose as a result!

We'd arranged to stay on site on the Saturday as well, so that we could travel back home all day Sunday.  We got off to a good start and left at 8.30am, and I think we were back by 6pm despite Wow Cow taking us for an unplanned tour around Edinburgh!

Our next show is the Smallholders Show down in Ardingly.  It's a two day show and we'll be doing two shows a day so I'll let you know how we get on.  In the meantime, you can see some photos from Tain by clicking here.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Witton Castle

 Hey Casper!  Photo by Christine Percival

We spent Saturday at the very beautiful Witton Castle Country Park - and it was the easiest day we have had all season!  We arrived on Friday evening to a wide open field, that was flat and perfect.  Having been told we could set up wherever we liked we did just that, before having some yummy omelettes and settling down for the night.

In the morning we decided that we'd do the two separate shows rather than the one combined show, as it would fit in better with the day, and we went for 11.30am and 1pm display times.  There was no other arena acts, it was literally just us in the arena we had built the evening before!  It's a good job I packed extra fencing stakes, as it meant we had enough to build a perfect sized, round arena.

In the morning we turned the boys out into the arena, and after filling themselves up with as much grass as they could manage they both lay down and went to sleep!  This is becoming a bit of a habit for them as they spent most of the morning the previous week fast asleep at Otley Carnival!  Helen and I managed to set the whole arena up around them, all the posts and bunting, as well as Casper's cones, hoop, fetch toy and catching towel - neither of them batted an eyelid or moved a muscle the whole time we were busying around them, lazy boys!  You can see the photos here.

Before long it was time for Casper's show, and luckily he had managed to rouse himself!  He did a lovely show, and was really calm and steady, an absolute pleasure to vault on - I even managed to throw in a couple of new moves!  It was a welcome change from the last couple of weeks that's for sure!  We were really lucky with the weather as well, as even though it kept threatening to pour with rain it never actually did (until we were packing away that is!), and it was actually quite sunny for a lot of the time.  Tinker's show went really well as well, and I did my new moves yet again.  I was especially please with him at the very end of the show, as he came out of the arena and did a whole lap before stopping of his own accord by the arena gate - very good as when he's bridleless I have no way of making him do this if he doesn't want to!

Helen had driven up separately in her car, as she had to make a quick getaway in the afternoon.  It was probably the quickest exit ever, as even having packed all the stables and the tent she managed to get away for 2pm!  Lily and I finished up and we left at 3pm, meaning we were home by 4.30pm which is very unusual but extremely welcome!

It's going to be a different story this weekend as we're at Tain Gala, up in the Highlands of Scotland.  It's 384 miles one way, so is going to be a long drive!  I'll let you know how we get on next week.

Love Rosie x

Friday, 21 June 2013

Otley Carnival

Last Friday we set off once again for Otley, this time to perform at Otley Carnival.  We knew the way, as the carnival takes place on the same field as Otley Show, which we performed at back in May.  We didn't even need the sat nav to get us there!  Having pulled on to the field the space we were allocated meant the only sensible way to park the lorry was to parallel park it - which I did!  It was really funny, but I got it in the space straight away luckily, and somebody even said they couldn't have done the manoeuvre in their car!

The boys were once again in their element munching on the lush grass, and having settled them down for the night we got an early night ourselves - all in bed by 9.30pm!  We had a bit of a lie in as well, as we weren't due to perform until 3.15pm.  We spent the morning getting everything ready slowly, and I spent quite a bit of time running Casper through all his tricks, as I really didn't want a repeat performance from him as at Rawdon Fun Day.  The carnival was being built up around us, and very soon there were lots of stalls and marquees.  It didn't affect the boys one bit though, and they both lay down for ages for a good long morning snooze!  See the photos of the lazy beasts here.

Before long the sun went in and the heavens opened, which unfortunately coincided with the parade setting off from the town.  Luckily though it seemed to only be a heavy shower, and the sun soon came back out.  We were hoping the weather would stay nice for our performance, as we had had enough of Otley rain at the show in May!

Before long the parade started to arrive on the show field - and kept on coming!  There were many different floats, all of which had had lots of effort put into them and looked amazing.  The new carnival queen was crowned in a coronation ceremony, and the field was soon packed.  Then it was our turn!  The was a large crowd all around the arena, and Tinker was brilliant.  He didn't put a foot wrong throughout the whole display, which is more than can be said for Casper!  I don't know what's got into him recently, but he decided to play his charging off on his own accord game a couple of times - thankfully not as badly as at Rawdon Fun Day, but not far off!  He did eventually settle and I did manage to do nearly all of my freestyle on him, even going upside down a couple of times!!  The Roman riding went well despite a few bucks from that naughty Casper, luckily Tinker was the ultimate professional and just ignored him!

Following the show we had a very busy little shop, selling lots of posters and keyrings - I think most of Otley must have pictures of us somewhere on their walls by now (at least the eight year old girls anyway!).  Following our display the whole field was taken down in record time.  I have literally never seen a field emptied of absolutely everything so quickly - one of the organisers told me it was thirty years of practise.  Either way I was very impressed!

Casper has another chance to redeem himself tomorrow, as we're off to Witton Castle near Bishop Aukland to perform the double act again.  I've been working him all week so he really has no excuses this time!  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Rawdon Fun Day

Photos by John Davies

 Photo by Helen Gilbertson

I can hardly believe that a whole year has gone past since we were last at Rawdon Fun Day, but it must have done because last Saturday we were back there!  Thankfully the weather was far kinder than in 2012, and as a result we managed to drive the lorry onto the field and straight into position without being towed.  It was just Helen and myself, and Tinker and Casper, who arrived on Friday evening and set up camp for the night, as we were due to have yet another new girl join us in the morning.  We spent the evening cleaning tack (Helen) and cooking (me) and had a very peaceful time.  The boys were out in the arena busying themselves with eating as much as possible once again - this seems to be their default setting at shows now!

In the morning we were joined by Emma, who had come to help us out for the day.  Emma works at Hope Pastures in Leeds, a rescue and rehabilitation centre for horses, ponies and donkeys.  Helen knows Hope Pastures through the work she does at Hannah Dawson Equine, and it's lucky she does as we were stuck for someone to help until Emma came along!

Having given Emma a crash course in what she needed to do throughout the shows, it was soon time for our first display.  In Casper and I went, and off we went!  I don't know what was up with him, but we were flying!  The arena was on quite a slope, and he was definitely using that as an excuse.  I managed everything fine though thank goodness!  All went well again until the dance, when Casper did something he has never done before (and hopefully will never do again!).  In the middle of the dance he just charged off!  He was doing laps of the circle and showing no interest in stopping whatsoever.  Poor Helen, she didn't know what to say, and I just kept saying to her 'keep talking!'.  I finally got the beast back under control, but I have no idea why he did it, just attention seeking I think!  Then it was time for the games section, and once we were out of the circle Casper would do one of the toys/games with me and then charge off again.  He kept running to different points in the arena and sticking his head over as if he was saying hello to people.  It got quite embarrassing after a while!  The saying 'Never work with children or animals' sprang to mind - and it seems as if I have a perpetually childish animal!  To be fair to him, he did do everything I asked of him, he just did a few laps of honour in between!  Once we got back in the circle he did the rest of the show very well, so I can't grumble too much.  I was struggling to vault on him a bit on the slope, but looking back over the video you can hardly tell.  What was really funny afterwards was how many people asked me if Casper was actually being naughty through the show or if he was supposed to run around on his own.  The little monkey was definitely being naughty!!

When Casper behaves like that, it makes me eternally grateful to Tinker.  He did a wonderful show, and made it all feel easy again!  Even the slope didn't matter on Tink, he really is lovely to vault on.  I know him so well I can just concentrate on the vaulting and not worry about him in the slightest - even when he isn't wearing his bridle and side-reins.  I cannot wait until Casper is at the same stage!  I think it may be a good few years though...

We had a lovely day, and I'm so pleased the weather was so good.  There was hundreds of people there, all through the day, and lots for them to see and do.  Benji was there with the Interesting and Unusual Team, and did two really good shows.  There was demonstrations by the fire brigade about cutting cars at accidents, which sounds a bit morbid but was fascinating.  There was also a visit from the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who are one of the charities the fun day supports, although this year they didn't come right in the middle of Tinker's dance like last  year!  Unfortunately they couldn't stay very long, as they had a call to help a biker who had been injured in an accident.  This just highlighted what a fantastic service they offer, and how vital it is that they are well supported.  The fun day did a brilliant job in this respect, as the day raised made over £15,000 in profit to divide between their charities - their best result yet and long may it continue!  You can see some photos from the day here, and I'll be adding some more soon hopefully!

We're off back to Otley this weekend, where we will be performing at Otley Carnival on Saturday.  We'll be doing our two horse show as we did at Ilkley Carnival, and I'm hoping Tinker behaves better than he did there!  Entry to the carnival is free, so we'll see you there!  I'll let you know how we get on.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Castle Howard

 Photo credit: Helen Gilbertson

  Photo credit: Sally Anne

What a beautiful long weekend we had at Castle Howard!  Everything from the setting to the weather was perfect.  I've never been to Castle Howard before, despite sharing a name with it, so it was lovely to spend three days there.

We set off on Friday afternoon with yet another new girl in tow, Lily this time.  Luckily everybody we've had so far has fitted into the clothing and costumes, and Lily was no exception.  After a much longer than necessary journey (navigation is not one of Helen's strong points!) we arrived and got set up.  There was nobody else on site whatsoever, so it was a very peaceful evening.  Tinker and Casper once again enjoyed being turned out on proper grass, and spent the majority of the evening stuffing their faces!

Everything went really well on Saturday, with both the boys doing lovely shows.  Benji was there with the Interesting and Unusual Team so it was good to see his displays.  It was absolutely baking hot and all three of us looked quite pink by the end of the day!  Once again we were all alone in the evening, and the boys (and me!) enjoyed snoozing in the evening sun in the arena.  

  Photo credit: Helen Gilbertson

Sunday was another beautiful day, and this time we had Ben with the Eagle and Vulture Team as company.  He arrived quite early and we were all still in bed!  I was awake though, and realised it was Ben as Tinker whinnied good morning at him.  Tinker is very particular with who he whinnies at (he has to know them very well), so I knew it had to be Ben!  Casper did his best show yet that morning, which was great as there were lots of people we knew watching us.  I can't say the same for Tinker, who was quite naughty in one section of his show!  It was during the choreography vaulting, and he is supposed to just be walking.  Every time I got into a new move he charged off into canter!  It took me about three attempts to get him to stay in walk - normally it's the other way around!  Sunday evening was beautiful again, with a really large full moon seemingly hanging in the sky.  Helen and I made the most of the lorry and had a lovely hot shower each, there was even enough hot water to wash our hair - what a novelty!  In all my nine years of performing at shows I have never once had a shower in a lorry.  It seems like such a small thing but it felt like a real luxury. 

We had been told it was going to rain on the Monday, and although it was slightly cooler and a bit windier there wasn't a drop of rain all day.  I had a slight costume malfunction during Casper's show, although nothing too embarrassing thankfully.  It was about three quarters of the way through the show when the zip of my lovely spotty dress burst open!  Helen and I had only been saying that morning that the zip felt quite weak (no rude jokes about my weight here please - the dress isn't at all tight!) and that it would probably pop one day - little did we know that one day would be that day!  I do wear a leotard underneath, so it wasn't too revealing, but still far from ideal.  Luckily my red cardigan was close to hand as I'd just taken it off for the catch during Casper's dance, so I was able to tie that round my waist and keep everything together - phew!  I finished the rest of the show in this fashion, and thankfully everything stayed together.  Definitely one of the more worrying moments I've had in a show for a while though!

Tinker's afternoon show was one of the best he's done in a long time.  His dance was foot perfect and he really did enjoy himself all the way through.  It was an absolute pleasure to work with him, and rounded the weekend off brilliantly.  We all had such a lovely time and it flew by - we couldn't believe it when it was time to pack up and go home already!  There's quite a few photos from the weekend, which you can see by clicking here.  We're off to Rawdon Fun Day next, and hoping for better weather there than we had last year!  I'll let you know how we get on.

Love Rosie x

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Otley Show

 Photo credit: Carol Stevens at Raycrosse Photography

 Photos by Helen Gilbertson

We had a different team for Otley Show, as Jess was busy working and couldn't make it, so Helen's sister Megan came along to help out - a brace of Gilbertson's!  Having made it safely to the show ground we put the horses out in the arena and started setting up.  It took us a ridiculous amount of time to put the stables together, and we just couldn't work out why.  Helen finally realised that we'd put the doors on the wrong way round - that'll do it!  The ground was also anything but flat, we used all our chocks and could have done with a few more!

We finally managed it and bought the boys in from the arena.  As per last week at Ilkley Carnival they were so glad to see some grass (we hardly have any at home at the moment) that they just stuffed themselves as much as they could!  They weren't the only ones who enjoyed their food, as Helen made some delicious thick half moon omelettes for supper - helped by the fact that the lorry was on a slight slant!

There was no chance for a lie in in the morning, as our first show with Casper was at 10.30am and it takes about two hours to get ready for each show.  This may seem a long time but it soon goes!  We have to clean the horse, do our hair and make up, warm up, tack up, warm the horse up and get into costume, as well as making sure the music has been tested, the props are ready and the shop is set up - two hours goes in a flash!

The showing classes started at 8am, so even though I was up at 7.30am there were lots of horses knocking about.  Casper found the whole thing very exciting, and had been whinnying his head off since about 6am - and lots of horses and ponies had been answering him!  One of the earliest classes was for Shetland Ponies, and I've never heard such high pitched whinnies.  They were all squeaking away and Casper was doing his best to imitate them!  He was absolutely wired and I knew he'd take a lot of settling down before his show, and I wasn't wrong.  After twenty minutes of flat out lunging he was still charging around shouting his head off - great.  There was nothing more I could do though so just had to hope he'd pull himself together.

It was pouring with rain and the last thing I wanted to do was take my coat off (playsuits are not very warm or waterproof!), but the music came on so off it came and in we went!  Casper surprised me because as soon as we went in he was absolutely perfect.  Shame I can't say the same for my microphone, which refused to work right from the word go.  Poor Helen ended up having to do all the commentary, apart from a couple of sections where I grabbed the head mic from her (and probably a chunk or two of her hair at the same time - oops!) and talked myself.  There is a reason why we ask for two hand held radio mics, and although we managed with one head mic between us it was far from ideal!  Despite the pouring rain we had a decent audience, and everybody clapped and cheered.  Casper's games seemed to go down particularly well, and the ever popular hoop jump definitely got the biggest applause of the show.  The only slight mistake Casper made wasn't really his fault.  I was doing the explanation freestyle in walk and Helen was commentating away.  Part of one of her lines is '...and in the canter...', Casper heard the word 'canter' and off he went!  He's very very good on his voice commands, and he was obviously listening a bit too closely!  Other than that I really couldn't fault him.  By the end of the show all of us were completely drenched, and more than happy to head back to the lorry to try and dry out.

Luckily the rain stopped in time for Tinker's show - I didn't even get wet warming him up!  He was as good as gold all through his show, and we had two working mics, so it couldn't have gone better.  Following the shows we had a walk about all the marquees, and there was lots to see.  In the produce tent there were all kinds of competitive classes on display, my particular favourites being 'Layered jelly in a pint glass', 'A pizza face' and 'A vegetable animal'.  Helen took lots of photos, which you can see alongside ones of the show by clicking here.  We also went to see the countryside area, where Ben had his Eagle and Vulture team on display.  They'd had a good day too, and as their display had been in the afternoon had managed to escape the rain.  Les Dixon was there with his Mountgrace Gundogs, as well as the Sheep Road Show.  Unfortunately we didn't have much time for stopping and chatting as we had to get packed down before it started raining again.  The tent had dried out during the afternoon and I wanted it to stay that way!

When it was time to go we had to be towed off, luckily there was lots of very helpful tractor men about and we were gone in no time.  Despite the weather we had a really lovely day, and the crowds were brilliant.  I'm amazed so many braved the weather in the morning, but by the afternoon they really were out in force.  We're back at the same site in a few weeks for Otley Carnival - hopefully the weather will be glorious and the crowds even bigger!

We've a busy weekend coming up as we're at Castle Howard for a three day show over the Bank Holiday.  We're doing our two shows a day and as it's one of our most local events there's quite a few people coming to see us.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Ilkley Carnival

All three photos by Karen Mitchell at The Peppermint Gallery

Sunday afternoon and having given both the horses a deep clean with the hot shower and LOTS of shampoo and conditioner Helen, myself, Tinker and Casper set off for Ilkley, where we were due to perform at their carnival on the Bank Holiday Monday.  Jess was working so would be joining us there in the morning.  On arrival we squeezed the lorry through the gateway, and promptly put our new lorry chocks to use - no mountaineering at this show (unlike last week)!  The arena was once again a perfect size for us, and dead flat so just ideal.  There was to be a five-a-side football tournament in the morning, and there were two pitches marked out in the arena which we soon decorated with our own arena markings - eight little yellow crosses, hopefully not too confusing!

The horses spent most of Sunday evening in the arena munching their way through the grass.  We've very little grass at home at the moment, so they really went to town!  Andrew, the organiser, even asked if they ever did anything else, and would they actually be doing anything in the show or just eating!

We were going to be performing our two horse show, and although we did this a couple of times last year (at a private wedding and Abinger Medieval Fair) I've changed everything around so it was all new to us.  I'd also put in a totally new section; games with Casper. We've been practising everything lots, so I was really hoping it would all go to plan.  We had a forty-five minute slot in the arena, which is quite a long time to fill! Jess's boyfriend Dan had agreed to film the show, so any mistakes would be caught forever.  No pressure then!!

The day itself was absolutely beautiful - easily the hottest day of the year so far.  Andrew was hoping for a good turn out, and they certainly got it.  As the parade started to arrive we were astounded by the number of people involved.  And they just kept on coming.  The field was soon absolutely rammed, with people everywhere.  Even warming up we had a big audience!  The horses felt quite lethargic though, and I was concerned they would take quite a lot of encouragement to get going in the arena.  However, that turned out to be something I definitely needn't have worried about!

I opened the show with Tinker, and he was brilliant for his first section.  Having finished the skipping it was time to introduce Casper to the show, ready for Roman riding.  I've been practising this lots and had a really nice little routine worked out on them.  Unfortunately however, Tinker decided it was time to justify our name and galloped around for the entire duration, dragging poor Casper along with him!  Needless to say it was as much as I could do to stay on, stand up and stick one arm out occassionally.  I was really annoyed with Tinker, as it was totally unnecessary and I thought the Roman riding had looked rubbish as a result.  But having looked back at the filming it actually looks quite impressive because we're going so fast!

The downside of our speedy Roman riding was that Casper was then far too wound up to concentrate properly on his games, and although he did manage most of them he could definitely have done better!  He was then also fast again for the vaulting which meant my freestyle had some pretty scary moments, so maybe my optimism last week that he was finally settling down was a bit premature.  I do blame Tink for winding him up though, so hopefully that won't happen again!  

Following Casper's part we had Tinker back again, and it was as if butter wouldn't melt - he was absolutely perfect! It was as if he'd just wanted to sabotage Casper to make himself seem like the golden boy!  We finished the show with the bridleless vaulting, which always goes down really well, especially when we do a lap of the arena at the end.  I have no control over Tink at this point though, so we tend to go wherever he wants!  Luckily he always stops when I jump off and run alongside him - maybe I should have tried this approach during the Roman riding...

After the show we slowly packed up and mooched home.  We had a really lovely day and the organisers seemed over the moon with how the day had gone; apparently it was the biggest carnival parade and largest attendance ever!  I hope we can go back another year!  There's lots of photos of the carnival all over the internet, and it's had fantastic publicity.  For a few photos of our day please click here.

We've had a weekend off (Helen and I took Casper and Gertrude, Helen's horse, on the Rievaulx Ride on Sunday which was lovely), but we're back at it this weekend with Otley Show on Saturday.  We're back to doing the two shows, so hopefully both the boys will behave themselves - I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Oakedge Park Game and Country Fair

 Photo Credit: Roy Westwood
Our 2013 season has started!  I can barely believe it, it's come around so quickly.  Friday afternoon we set off for Staffordshire, and Oakedge Park Game and Country Fair.  Unfortunately our sat nav (affectionately known as Wow Cow) decided that she couldn't find any signal whatsoever throughout the journey.  Luckily I had printed off a route planner as well, so along with the atlas we found our way pretty easily and arrived on site after about four hours.  The best part about the journey was that with the lorry's new cctv we were able to watch the horses - Casper Cam!

Having arrived we were directed to an area which was 'slightly sloping' - by about forty degrees!  We set everything up and spent a pleasant evening mountaineering around the lorry.  During the night the slope meant Jess kept nearly ending up in the cab, Helen kept nearly ending up on Jess, and I spent most of the night squashed up against the wall!

I the morning we took Casper down for a rehearsal in the arena (he's always better for a bit of practice), and he was foot perfect.  This makes me very nervous!  I needn't have been though, as he was absolutely brilliant in his show.  He got ever so slightly distracted by the pony ride ponies during his dance, but other than that I couldn't fault him.  He didn't seem too bothered about where Tinker was either, which was a far cry from our first show of the season last year!  After the dance came the bit I had been looking forward to - the hoop jump!  Those of you who follow us on facebook and/or twitter may have seen some of the videos of Casper learning this particular trick, and it was finally time to see if he'd do it in front of an audience.  He did - brilliantly!  He flew through it twice, so I really was very happy with him.

In the afternoon it was Tinker's turn, and he was brilliant as usual.  The bit I was most worried about with him was the bridleless vaulting, and where he would go when Helen opened the circle at the very end.  During practice the previous week at home he ran round the circle once as planned, then made a beeline for the open field gate and was headed straight towards the bird field.  Luckily he always stops whenever I get off, so I jumped off (and grabbed his head just to make sure!) and he did stop.  Helen was left in the field and apparently all she could hear was me saying 'No, No, NOOO!!'  Thankfully in the show he was very good and just went around the edge of the arena.  As he approached the rope I jumped off and he stopped straight away - what a perfect boy!

During the final section of the show I spotted Richard from The Sheep Show, who I've not seen since last year.  One of my favourite parts about doing the shows is meeting up with old friends and making new ones.  It was lovely too see Richard, and even better as he whisked us all out for an Indian meal that evening!  We'd fed him at Brocklesby Country Fair last summer, but this repayment was definitely in our favour!  Working with Richard was Jason, who was doing The Dog and Duck Show, and we all had a lovely evening with some very funny moments! 

Sunday soon came round and it was time to do it all over again.  Both the shows went through really well again, with the horses behaving brilliantly.  I don't want to speak too soon and say it seems like Casper has finally got the idea, but.....!  Tinker was very good as usual, although for some reason the sponge slipped out from under his roller during the final freestyle, which made the last couple of moves a bit dicey.  Good job it was right at the end of the show!

After the shows we wandered around to see what was about, and took ice creams down for Richard and Jason.  It was a lovely little show, with quite a bit there for its first year, and I'm sure it will grow and grow over the next few years - hopefully we'll be back as well!

Having packed up it was time to truck on home.  Wow Cow was still being temperamental, so we were trying to read the route planner in reverse - we only went around a couple of roundabouts a few times...

We've got something different for next weekend.  We'll be at Ilkley Carnival on Bank Holiday Monday, and will be performing our  forty-five minute two horse show.  We last did this at Abinger Medieval Fair back in June last year, but I've changed everything around quite a bit, so once again Helen and I have new scripts to learn!  If you're anywhere nearby do come and see us - we always love to see as many people as possible!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can see some photos from Oakedge Park here (courtesy of the lovely Roy Westwood who has sent them through - thank you!).

Love Rosie x

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Training, Fun Ride, and 'A Night at the Movies'

Sorry not to have written for so long, but it's been a bit steady so far this year!  I've got loads of new ideas for shows for this year, which is a good job as the bookings are coming thick and fast.  We've currently only got two empty weekends between the last weekend in April and the second weekend in September, with shows up in Scotland, down in Surrey, and lots of places in between, so we really are going to be everywhere!

As such, I've been quite busy training the horses, and we've got a number of things to work on.  Casper has a new section in the show devoted to 'games', so he's learning to jump through a giant hoop, fetch a toy when I throw it, and push up a row of cones before weaving back through them.  He absolutely loves doing these things, especially the hoop!  He got so keen with the jumping that I had to devote quite a while working on his patience and 'wait' cue - which is no bad thing as it's a great behaviour to have on demand!  This little series of videos shows how his training progressed - he learnt very quickly!  I'm eventually hoping he'll go through a full paper burst, but this is something for the future.  I'm going to get him totally confident with the hoop at shows before introducing the paper burst in the arena, but we'll get there eventually - he's already going through a smaller and smaller gap with sheets of newspaper either side and across the bottom!

 By day four he's really getting the idea.

Day six and we're having to work on his patience.

Day fourteen and he's starting to go through paper!

With Tinker I've decided to do some bridleless vaulting to finish his show off.  I didn't think this would take much training, and I was right!  I basically decided one day to just take his bridle and side reins off and have a little vault to see what he'd do.  He was exactly the same as he is with them on!  I was half expecting him to put his head right down when I went into shoulderstand on his neck (which would probably make me topple off!), but he was perfect.  He only stopped once, and that was when I DID topple off from stand right at the end.  Trust me to spoil it!  I managed to video this as well, which is below.
 First time bridleless vaulting on Tinker.

Helen and I took both the boys on a fun ride at the start of March, which unfortunately turned out to be more of a cold, muddy ride.  The going was awful, literally through knee and hock deep mud in places and marsh land in others, but there were a few jumps which we all loved!  Casper really has got a good jump in him, despite never having done any, and Tinker just goes over everything in his own unique style!  I've always meant to do more with them jumping wise, but have never really got around to it as it's something I've never done.  Maybe one day!  Here's a couple of photos of us. (Photo credit to Chris Lax, sorry for copying!).

On the Wednesday before Easter I loaded Tinker and Casper up and drove down to the Devil's Horsemen in Buckinghamshire.  We were going to be doing their 'Night at the Movies' show over the Easter weekend - five shows in three days.  We spent all day rehearsing on Thursday and again Friday morning, but the first show on Friday night did come around quickly!  We sort of knew what we were doing, although I think there were a few pregnant pauses in between some acts! 

Unfortunately Karina (who does every show and is brilliant) was ill and couldn't be with us, so I ended up doing a few extra things during the show which I wouldn't normally do!  I was really busy all through the show, but my main parts were vaulting (for Slumdog Millionaire) and dancing (as Marilyn Monroe) with Tinker, comedy vaulting (as Fame, complete with neon pink hot pants!), dancing with Dan and Dante (as Baby from Dirty Dancing) and playing Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz - phew!  It was a great fun few days, and it's always brilliant seeing everybody again! I didn't get any photos but I have found a few, which are just below.


 So that's it for the time being!  Our first show is on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th April at Oakedge Park Game and Country Fair - I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x