Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Ackworth Gala

Last Saturday we were at Ackworth Gala - and it was a show with a difference for us! Helen was due to meet us on site, and Imie was away on holiday, so it was Tinker, Casper, Monty, myself and new girl Charlie who set off up the motorway.  This Friday it was the turn of the M1, and I was hoping it would treat us better than the M6 had the previous week.  It didn't unfortunately, and it took us five hours to do the 130 mile journey.  Not to worry, we arrived to a gloriously flat and empty field (I love doing shows on cricket pitches!) and were set up in no time.

We spent the morning talking through the shows, as they were to be slightly different.  Casper had unfortunately come in from the field with a slight knock to his leg, which had since filled up with fluid.  Although he wasn't at all lame, he did have what resembled a small water balloon attached to his leg, so we decided to give him the day off from vaulting.  This meant Tinker would have to step in and do the vaulting work, allowing Casper to have an easy day!  Poor Charlie not only had to learn the show, but also a confusing version involving lots of swapping horses around.

I'd also decided during the week that it was high time Helen tried some vaulting during the show.  She's been having lessons on and off for the past year or so now, and can do both freestyles through in walk on both Casper and Peroni (Adam's lovely big Irish Draft).  We'd been saying since last summer that she could do the explanation walk freestyle in Casper's show and that was what we had planned.  Unfortunately though, Helen has only vaulted on Tinker a couple of times, and whilst he and Casper may look fairly similar they feel completely different to work on!

Show time was rapidly approaching, and having given Tinker a brief warm up we ran Helen through  the freestyle.  Again and again.  And again.  It's the dreaded shoulderstands that she struggles with.  You have to be so strong in your core to be able to hold them on a moving horse, and I was expecting her to do two!  Plus a lie out onto the back following one of them.  I knew she could do it as I've seen it happen, but Tinker is different to both Casper and Peroni, and she kept collapsing or sliding off.  Practise was over far too quickly and then we were into the show!

We opened with Tinker before swapping him for Casper, who did his maths, dance and games really well.  He was full of beans once again though, and let it out by doing the most impressive rear he's done all season - go Casper!  Following the games we got Tinker back in and it was time for Helen's debut vaulting performance.  Having never before vaulted in front of an audience, and having spent most of the rehearsal time falling off, Helen was pretty nervous.  As was I!  Up she went and with the music playing we were away!  I was commentating through the freestyle and really enjoying myself, as I don't get to do much commentary these days.  Before long it was time for shoulderstand on the neck, and although Helen couldn't hold it for more than a couple of strides she didn't fall off - hooray!  She did really well with the whole thing, but then it was time for the second shoulderstand, this time on the back followed by the full lie out.  I turned around for a moment to move one of the posts to stop the bunting sagging, when I heard a groan from the audience and looked around to find Helen standing on the floor!  That wasn't in the script!!  Not to worry, we had a contingency plan.  It's called the leg up.  Up she went again to try for a second time, and plopped off for a second time!  Oh no!!  Up she went again and, moving swiftly on (!), on to the neck to continue with the routine.  The rest of it went through beautifully and then it was over - Helen had vaulted in front of an audience!  They were brilliant and gave her a well earned huge round of applause.  I know she enjoyed it but I also think she was very glad to take the microphone back from me and hand me back the horse!  Tinker and I finished the show, with lots of commentary from Helen along the lines of 'Doesn't she make it look easy Ladies and Gentlemen?  I can assure you it is NOT!'

After the show we had a bit of a breather and changed costumes before taking Tinker back into the arena for his full show.  He was brilliant as usual, apart from repeatedly falling out of his pirouette.  I couldn't work this out as this is one of his best tricks, until I remembered he had studs in his shoes!  The ground was quite soft and the poor boy was quite literally stuck to the spot - despite his best efforts there was no way he could spin around himself.  Oops!

Following the shows we packed up as quickly as we could ready for the journey home.  However, we weren't nearly as quick as the Ackworth Lions - about forty minutes before we were done the entire field had been packed away.  Everybody had vanished and the field was once again completely empty - although not quite as flat anymore!

Thankfully the drive home went much better, within three and a half hours I was home, having dropped Charlie off on the way back.  She did really well for her first show, so hopefully will come with us again if needed!  Casper had his leg drained this morning (Wednesday) so will be back in action this weekend.  I was planning on giving him another weekend off from the vaulting, but it turns out we have the double act booked in for Saturday so no such luck!  It's a bit of a monster this weekend; we're heading up the M6 again on Friday ready to perform at Croft Carnival on Saturday, then packing up and driving North some more up to South Shields for their Summer Fun Day on Sunday.  Then it'll be a very long drive home on Sunday night.  Luckily Adam is coming with us and I've put him on the lorry insurance now so he can share the driving with me!

I didn't manage to get a single photo from Ackworth Gala, but I've got the camcorder on charge so will be able to get video evidence of Helen performing this weekend!  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x