Thursday, 25 June 2015

Framlingham Country Show

11th and 12th April saw us performing at Framlingham Country Show - our first proper show of the 2015 season!  It was organised by Classic Festivals who were the team behind our last show of 2014, the East Anglian Equine Fair, so it was nice to know we'd be seeing familiar faces.  The show was being held at Framlingham College and Helen was meeting us there so it was myself, Imie, Monty, Tinker and Casper who piled into the lorry and headed off on Friday afternoon.  After a relatively easy journey we arrived on site only to be told we had to turn around (no easy feat on a tight show field in a 33 foot long lorry!) go back out of the site, wind our way back through the town and come in at the bottom of the field.  This we duly did, but not before missing the little lane we should have taken and having to do yet another many point turn around! We finally arrived where we should be, and after another little lorry wiggle to get through an awkwardly angles gate we were there!  It was a beautifully flat area of grass right next to the cricket nets, but we were assured they wouldn't mind us setting up there.  I was worried about making a mess, but we decided to turn the lorry around so it was facing the right way for the tent and for us to leave at the end of the weekend.  Round I went feeling pleased with my relatively tight turning circle, only to look in the mirror and realise we were leaving huge tracks in the immaculate grass!  Oops!  Never mind, just one more slight adjustment to bring the lorry parallel to the bank... back I went... and sunk.  Properly, deeply sunk.  The lorry was stuck fast, and we couldn't go forwards or backwards.  We couldn't drop the ramp to get the boys off because the lorry was backed up on an angle to the bank so we really were stuck in every way.  Poor boys, we offered them a drink and they were actually quite happy just munching on their haynets, although I'm sure they would have preferred to get off the lorry and eat some grass!

Imie and Helen had gone up to the main show site (a few minutes walk away) to try and get some help.  This was duly found in the form of a lovely chap called Simon Tinkler, who had a stand at the show promoting the local Ernest Doe Power, who as their name suggests had quite a few tractors!  Simon tried with his 4x4 first of all to pull us out, but we're about thirteen tonnes fully laden so no such luck unfortunately - just more holes in the grass.  Off Simon went to fetch a tractor from their premises, whilst we just waited.  We were also next to the colleges tennis courts, and Monty was overjoyed to find a ball!  Ball is God to Monty, and as we were all at a loose end it wasn't long before he was completely exhausted.  Simon soon returned with a lovely big tractor and before we knew it we were free!  Hooray!!  Thank you Simon!  So, after having been on site for just over an hour, we were finally ready to get on with setting up!

It took us a little while to remember where everything went and how the stables fitted together, so our set up was a little longer than usual - we'd got it down to a good fast technique by the end of last summer, but I have no doubt we'll get that back again!  Having settled in for the night we went to bed hoping for good weather - and that we'd all remember the shows the following day!

We had a lovely space for a turnout paddock for the boys and warm up area (although it did have some dirty great tyre tracks across it...), but we didn't get much chance to do a warm up as it poured with rain all morning.  We were all dressed, tacked up and ready to warm up, and just waiting for it to ease off a bit.  But it didn't.  I really didn't want to go out in it as it just makes everything soggy and bedraggled, and the horses hate working in the rain almost as much as I do.  Our warm up time gradually ticked by, and all the while the rain continued to pour down.  Eventually, just five minutes before we were due in the arena the rain stopped and the sun came out!  Hooray!!  We jumped on the boys and trotted up to the arena by way of a warm up with not a minute to spare.  Straight in and away we went - and they were perfect!  Having not been in a proper show for nearly five months they went in and were brilliant.  It was a tight arena on quite a slope, so down the hill and around the bend was a bit hairy in Roman riding - especially as Casper was his usual exuberant self!  He was very good really though, despite being absolutely fascinated by Cherry the miniature horse who was in a pen ringside.  He was trying to concentrate but just couldn't year his eyes from her!  

The only real problem we had was with the music system.  Ron, the music man, hadn't realised we needed two hand held mics and a CD player.  Luckily we had a CD player with us, but we had to muddle through with one hand held and one head mic.  Poor Ron also had to muddle through as the way the system was set up meant we could only have one of the three things (two mics and CD) playing at any one time - not ideal!  He looked like he was going to have a heart attack by the end of the show, but amazingly he managed to sort it all out for the second show so everything played at the same time - well done that Ron!

Next in the ring following both our performances were the Zulu dancers.  Casper and Tinker have never seen anything like them before, and were once again fascinated - I thought Casper's eyes were going to pop out of his head at one point!  The Zulus were great and we were all dancing away before long - Casper included who just couldn't stand still!!  As well as the Zulus there was lots to see and do at the show.  The girls went for a wander about in between our performances and met a lovely big tortoise called Boris.  You can see photos of him and other images from the weekend by clicking here.

By the time the evening came around we were all exhausted, but luckily the rain stayed away so the boys could get some well earned rest and grass  in their paddock.  I took Monty for a lovely walk along the Framlingham Castle Mere Trail, which he absolutely loved.  He's such a pleasure to have with us on the shows - although we do all have to wear earplugs overnight so we can sleep through his snoring!

The next day both the shows went through really well again, and once again we were lucky with the weather.  There was quite a bit of time in between our two performances, so we got everything packed down and ready to go.  It felt quite odd coming back to the lorry with just tack, costume and props to pack up, but it sped us up no end and we were back on the road in no time!  And that was our first show done and dusted just like that!  The following weekend we were off to Colchester Town and Country Show organised by Oakleigh Fairs - I'll tell you all about that next!

Love Rosie x