Homer (the Auctioneer) has now had his first lesson as a jumper and been to his first two shows. First at Pyecombe where he jumped double clear in the British Novice and Discovery and then to Felbridge where he just rolled the same pole in both classes. He found it rather a short three strides from the spooky water tray to the very insignificant upright. He seems to love his new career and is so bold. I am sufficiently thrilled with him that he is now entered for Hickstead.
At Pyecombe I took Homer, Emma and Biscuit on the first day where they all jumped double clears, rather excitingly in Emma’s case, and then Emma, Biscuit and Ferro on the 2nd day. Emma was so much easier to ride on the 2nd day and was 2nd in the Newcomers, but Biscuit was very fussy in the mouth and had a fence down. I then rode Ferro in the Foxhunter and she rolled a pole on the last fence in the jump-off.
Last weekend it was off to Felbridge. All four horses squeezed into the lorry for Saturday: perhaps less space works better as they were very well behaved. Homer jumped first. Then Emma and Biscuit did the Newcomers. Unfortunately I thought Emma had knocked a fence in the first phase so I went quite slowly in the jump-off expecting the bell to ring at any moment, but Biscuit did a lovely round to come 5th. I also took Biscuit in the 1.10 Derby, to give her a chance to jump on grass and because I have entered her for the 1.15 Derby at Hickstead. She was very bold, going straight through the dyke and up and down the little bank, just having a couple of poles as she got tired. Ferro jumped two fantastic rounds in the Foxhunter to come 3rd.
On Sunday Felbridge hosted a Newcomers 2nd round. The competition was slightly marred by a timing dispute, but I think the final result will be a win for Peter Lear on the lovely Doonaveeragh Amanda, who belongs to Andrew Gardner and is by Creevagh Ferro, like Ferro and Emma. I then jumped Ferro in the 1.30. This was the first 1.30 we had jumped since Windsor and I was a bit tense, resulting in Ferro having the 3rd fence. I then settled down and she rolled one in the jump-off. The Second Round was meant to be held on grass, but heavy overnight rain resulted in a move to the all weather, with other classes being rearranged. It was a huge credit to Sean & Michelle’s stamina and organisation that they managed to fit in a busy Newcomers and a Foxhunter after the 1.30. Biscuit and Emma both jumped beautifully, sadly the pilot had a senior moment on Emma and although we jumped all of the fences clear, they were not in the right order. I pulled myself together for Biscuit who did a lovely round to come 5th again.
It was a pretty exhausting weekend, so it was lovely just to hack Homer out on Monday, before heading to Fletching for the Jubilee street party. I don’t think many villages can do it like Fletching. A fantastic street party, with tables all down the street, delicious hot dogs, a live band and two discos and then the most amazing red, white and blue fireworks to patriotic music including Rule Britannia – honestly better than Buckingham Palace. Even the BBC were there, although they didn’t stay for the fireworks. We watched the rest of the celebrations on and off on TV. What an amazing sight all the people in the Mall to watch the concert made, and what an amazing spectacle it was.
Tuesday was a bit more normal. I took Emma, Biscuit and Ferro for a jump with Shane. Every lesson is different, and with up to six of us jumping the same course at the same time we all had to keep our wits about us. All three horses jumped really well, probably with Biscuit being the star.
The last two days have been spent at the South of England Show at Ardingly. Yet again the weather has made life very difficult. We managed to slide onto the very wet ground at 7.00 am yesterday with Ferro on board for the Foxhunter and 1.25. Ferro jumped very well in the Foxhunter just having one pole down, but obviously not loving the going. By the time she did the 1.25 she was convinced that she really hated it and had three down. I then was towed out and took Ferro home and picked up Biscuit and Emma. Having been towed back on I watched the end of the Grade C HOYS qualifier. By this time it was really pouring with rain, but both Biscuit and Emma are very scopey so I felt fairly confident that they would be OK in the Newcomers. They both jumped really well, Emma didn’t really look at the first fence and had that down, and Biscuit had the last fence in the first round while she was staring at the food court. Neither of them had ever been to a show anything like the South of England, and they really tried hard.
I took them both back for the Newcomers on Friday, but sadly all the jumping was cancelled. However I worked them both with all the amazing sights of the show around them, and they will still have benefitted from the experience.
On the subject of new careers I seem to have expanded my own career. I have been appointed Equine Manager at Old Lodge which is very exciting for me. I will be working with a great team of people at Old Lodge, a really great team of riders and Malcolm Pyrah has been appointed as a consultant, so I will be learning lots as well. My job is liaising with the riders and the owner about the horses and their progress, and a lot of the horse admin. So far I have been busy meeting and talking with the riders and trying to see as many horses as possible. Luckily both Felbridge and the South of England were busy shows for Old Lodge so I was able to learn a lot quickly.
I am now hoping that the weather forecast for the next two weeks is wrong, and that the sun will come out for Hickstead. All this mud and rain makes everything much harder work for everybody. I feel especially sorry for the shows who work all year to make their shows run smoothly.