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