Sunday, 25 May 2014

Starquest Spectacular and Woodhall Spa Country Show

Photo by Aggie Moore

Well what a weekend we've just had!  It's Friday today and I only just about feel recovered!!  Last Friday afternoon, Tinker, Casper, Monty (the dog) and myself set off Northwards again, heading for Wetherby Racecourse ready to perform at Starquest Spectacular on Saturday.  As the show was in Yorkshire we would be meeting Helen on site, and it felt very peculiar to be washing horses, loading up and leaving without her - I had a strange feeling the whole journey that I'd forgotten something very important!

The journey was very slow and it took me five hours to make the 160 mile trip - good old M1 traffic.  On arrival we set everything up and marked out the arena, but didn't have time to practise as it was starting to get dark, we'd have to have an early morning rehearsal instead.  Sophie was due to come in the morning to help, so even with Helen and myself we still felt like we were a man down!

Morning came and as we were due on at 10am with Casper we were up early to have a practise with him.  He went really nicely and I had high hopes for him.  The event itself was the centenary celebrations for all the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides in the North East of England, and although it wasn't a public event they had sold 11,500 tickets - we were in for a busy day!  It was gloriously sunny and as we were setting up the arena became surrounded by girls - I don't think I've ever seen so many all at once!  Casper and I were walking around chatting to them, he was saying yes and no to their jokes, counting out his age for them and generally being lovely, when all of a sudden an ENORMOUS crane went up over the far side of the field.  I can't really describe it but it was for an aerial act, so had lots of silks draped from it which were floating in the breeze.  Something in Casper just clicked and he started jiggling about.  I knew then I'd be in for a difficult show but didn't realise quite how difficult!  On the music came and off we went - like a speeding bullet!  It's a good job I'm used to him, but I had to do the entire show hanging on as he whizzed about broncing - not ideal!  I still managed all the moves, but they definitely weren't that pretty.  He did his dance very nicely so I was proud of him for that, but he completely messed up all his dog agility - I don't think he's ever done it so badly, he just wasn't concentrating at all which is beyond frustrating.  He redeemed himself with the maths and walk freestyle, and was much nicer to vault on at the end, but I was very glad when the show was over!

We had our little shop set up and within minutes we were absolutely inundated!  I have never ever been so busy with selling posters, keyrings, horseshoes and DVDs, we literally didn't stop.  I left it until the very last minute before we had to go and get Tinker ready for his show, and it was a welcome relief to have a breather.  Not much of one though as we only had forty-five minutes to change costume, redo hair and make up, and tack and warm Tinker up - phew!  We were back in the arena and the audience this time was even bigger!  The girls were amazing, as I was cantering round to open the show they were waving the posters they'd just bought from us and clapping and cheering like I've never heard - and they didn't let up!  They were easily the most responsive audience I've ever had.  Helen and my favourite part of the whole day was just before Tinker's skipping.  Helen says 'Can we get a drum roll please!', meaning for the music to start, but as she said it all the girls starting banging their legs and feet on the ground and slapping their thighs - we had a mega drum roll!  Tinker was superb throughout his whole performance - I really don't know what I would do without him, he more than makes up for Casper!

Following the show we went back to the shop and were inundated once more!  We were there for ages and had to get a queueing system set up where the girls bought the posters from Helen then came to me to get them signed.  It's a good job I'd bought a new pen as I was writing constantly for hours!  First to go were the horse shoes, then we completely sold out of posters.  Before long all the DVDs had gone and soon after the keyrings ran out too.  I could barely believe it but we had totally sold out of everything!  I had thought we'd have enough stock to see us until about the end of June, but I hadn't reckoned on 11,500 brownies!  All stock gone in just one day!!

It was a beautiful sunny day, and so hot it really felt like summer.  Despite Casper being naughty we had a fantastic day, but it wasn't over yet!  We had to pack up and drive one hundred miles down to Lincolnshire, where we would be performing at Woodhall Spa Country Show on Sunday.  Helen went ahead in the car, whist Sophie came in the lorry with me and the boys.  Nearly four hours (!) later we arrived at Woodhall Spa.  The arena looked absolutely perfect size for us and was round which we always love.  We were also in our own little fenced off area, which meant we could have the horses and Monty loose as there was no means of escape for them.  The boys were loving the long grass; there's very little in their paddock at home so they were making the most of it and stuffing themselves!  Once we were all set up Helen and I set off to mark out the arena.  Where's the lungeline? (Vital for marking out the correct size circle).  It's still attached to the arena gateway at Wetherby of course.  Ooops.  Not to worry, we very quickly fashioned a new one out of string - very high tech we are!  Once we were done and fed it was a very tired and quite sun burnt team which eventually fell into bed.

It was another early start as I wanted to work Casper in the arena prior to the show opening at 9.30am.  Helen and Sophie dragged the trolley up to the arena when disaster struck!  The wheel fell off!!  This happened before at Garstang Show last year, but not until we were on our way home.  For it to happen in the morning with two performances to go was awful.  Luckily we were soon joined in the arena by Helen, the organiser and a couple of stewards.  One of them, John, looked like a very handy chap, and I asked him if he would be able to have a look at it.  Luckily, the wheel hadn't sheared off as before, just that it's bolts had jiggled out over time.  Off John went with it, and was back before we knew it with the trolley as good as new!  Hooray!!

Casper was lovely in rehearsal, even doing his fetch despite the long grass.  I could barely see his toys for the grass, which was really lush - and Casper was far more interested in the grass than his toys.  He behaved perfectly though and did everything just as I asked.  Before long it was show time and in we went.  Once again Casper was perfect!  I was so happy with him, he was lovely to vault on and did all his dancing and games spot on.  What a complete turnaround from the day before.  Just goes to show that whatever happens one day doesn't influence the next with horses!

Tinker was perfect for his show once again, especially for the bridleless work.  It doesn't seem to make any difference to him whether he wears his bridle or not, he still trundles around at his set pace regardless!  We had a brilliant crowd for both performances, they all clapped and cheered in all the right places, so thank you if you were there!  Even though we didn't have any stock to sell, we spent ages chatting to lots of different people which is always lovely.  Everybody was very complimentary, one elderly lady even told me we were the best act she'd ever seen 'in all her years'!

It was another gorgeous summer day, and we had a fantastic time.  We were beautifully looked after from start to finish throughout the day, and the show ran really well - hopefully we'll be invited back one year!  Once we'd packed up Helen and Sophie set off in the car back up North, whilst the boys and I headed down South in the lorry - it still feels very strange travelling with just horses and the dog, none of them are very good at passing me food or making conversation!

We've the bank holiday weekend off (which is unheard of!), but then on Tuesday we're off down to Somerset for the Royal Bath and West Show.  It's a four day show and we'll be on at 2pm and 5.30pm every day from Wednesday to Saturday.  I'm very excited but have got lots to do before then - mainly restocking the shop!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime have a look at some of this weekend's photos by clicking here.

Love Rosie x