Monday, 27 January 2014

Stockton Summer Show

Photo Copyright Stockton Council

August bank holiday and once again I found myself at Preston Hall Park for Stockton Summer Show.  Back in 2012 I had performed at the show as part of the Devil's Horsemen, so it was great to bring Galloping Acrobatics instead.  On arrival we found a perfect fenced off enclosure specially for us, and having set everything up we went about the showground to see who else was about.  The first person we bumped into was Stuart from the Sheep Show which was lovely as we haven't seen him for a little while.  One of the things I most enjoy about the shows and the life we lead is meeting up with people and meeting new people every weekend - you never quite know who you're going to bump into!

The weekend was due to be hot and lovely, and Sunday certainly didn't disappoint.  We were joined in the morning by Ben with his Eagle and Vulture Team, although as the event is so close to home he hadn't had too much of an early start.  This also meant that there were a number of friends and relatives who came to see us all perform - no pressure then!  Thankfully there was lots of space for warming up, and I made sure Casper had a really good session given his performance last week at Ibstock County Fair!  It paid off as he went into the arena and after a slightly excitable entrance he was foot perfect for the vaulting.  He did have a couple of naughty moments during the chasing sections, namely chasing me then charging off on his own for an undeserved lap of honour - rude!

Tinker did a brilliant show in the afternoon, I think it was possibly his best one of the entire season - he actually seemed to put a lot of oomph into it!  It would be so helpful if I could somehow mix my two horses up together to combine their enthusiasm and confidence.  Tinker is so confident I would 100% take him absolutely anywhere, safe in the knowledge that he would perform without problem, but he is never very enthusiastic about it.  On the other hand, Casper absolutely loves his job, and is so enthusiastic for everything he is a joy to work with.  But (and this is a big but) he lacks confidence and can get upset quite easily, which can make for a difficult show on occasion.  So, if there was a way of combining the two it would be amazing!  I wouldn't swap either of them for the world though, despite their foibles!!

Sunday evening and there was a treat in store for us.  There was a concert in the park, and a particularly good Beatles tribute act called Beatlemania were playing.  Anyone who has ever seen our shows will realise my taste in music is quite vintage (it's what I grew up listening to thanks to my parents), so I was able to sing along to virtually every word!  We were having a run through with Casper in the arena, so as the crowd were filing in we had a bit of an audience and a live sound track - what more could you ask for?!  After we'd finished with Casper we had some supper (Helen makes beautiful 'nomelettes'), and joined Stu for drinks whilst watching the main act of the evening, a local band called the Wildcats of Kilkenny.  They were very good and we all had a little dance, it really was a very fun evening!

The next morning was lovely and sunny again, and today we were joined by Benji with the Interesting and Unusual Team.  At least the weather was better than Benji had had at his last show with us, when we were up in Scotland at Sanquhar and it had poured with rain.  Given Casper's practise the previous evening I had high hopes for his show and I wasn't wrong - he was brilliant from start to finish!  I was especially thankful for this as once again there were quite a few familiar faces in the audience.  Tinker was a fantastic thing as well, and we managed to film the whole thing too ready to put our showreel together (watch the finished showreel here!).  Following Tink's show we were doing the meet and greet when a giant giraffe came over to say hello - Tinker was most bemused by it!  It was obviously the mascot for somebody, but I'm afraid I've forgotten who!  Tinker's face was a picture though!!  We've a few images from the weekend, just click here to see them.

We're nearly at the end of our season, with only one more event left.  Saturday 7th September will see us down near Nottingham for Stapleford Carnival - I'll let you know how we get on! 

Love Rosie x

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Sanquhar Riding of the Marches and Ibstock Country Fair

Photos by Minty Price

Our last road trip of the season involved a trip up to Scotland on the Friday, for Sanquhar Riding of the Marches.  Luckily it wasn't too far into Scotland, and it didn't actually take us overly long to get there.  However, when we arrived it was a bit like Hampsthwaite Feast - the entrance gate was absolutely tiny!  We had to really squeeze our way in, but at least it was daylight, unlike when we arrived at Hampsthwaite!  The showfield itself was actually a football pitch, which I always love as they're always dead flat and beautifully kept.  There was absolutely nothing else on site though, so it felt a bit eerie setting up with nothing else around us!

None of us had ever heard of a Riding of the Marches before, but apparently it is quite a tradition in Scotland, especially in the border towns.  Historically each towns leader would ride their borders in order to protect their common lands from surrounding clans.  Today the rides are merely commemorative - but they get a very impressive turn out!  All morning there was a parade of horses going along the roads surrounding our site - which Tinker and Casper thought was brilliant!

Before long the show started to build up around us, and it wasn't long before we were joined by Benji with the Interesting and Unusual Team.  There was another bird of prey stand there too, who had mostly owls, including a very sweet baby great grey owl which spent a lot of time doing a very good fluffy pudding impression.  Unfortunately the weather was not so nice, the rain was horrible and we were dreading going out in it.

Following the parade in town there was a good crowd for the first show, and luckily there was a patch of blue sky overhead as we took to the arena.  Unluckily however, the music system wasn't the best and we struggled to hear any of the tracks and ended up with one microphone between us!  Casper was very good though, despite the roundabout right next to the arena, so I was ever so pleased with him.

Benji wasn't as lucky with the weather as we were, and it absolutely poured with rain during his flying display which was a real shame - the birds don't really like getting wet!  We were not looking forward to our second show, as the weather was getting worse and worse, and we were convinced we were all going to get drenched.  The day was running quite behind schedule, and there were other events due to take place up in the town centre, so by the time we got into the arena with Tinker there was very little audience left.  However, the few who remained did a sterling job of clapping and cheering, so if that was you thank you!  We also got asked to cut the show short as the PA system was needed up in the town, so we raced through the rest of the performance as best we could - Tinker was flying by the end!

The whole show packed up as quickly as it had arrived, and by the time we were ready to go it was once again an empty football pitch - although admittedly it did look slightly worse for wear!  We managed to squeeze our way back out of the gate and bid farewell to Scotland for another year, before trucking down south for a return visit to Ibstock.  

The drive was a very long one, but ever so easy, I just trucked on down the motorway.  I was slightly dreading the entrance to Ibstock Country Fair, as both Helen and I remembered it as being very tight, we also have a much bigger lorry now, and I knew we'd be getting there in the dark.  However, we needn't have worried as it was actually incredibly spacious in comparison to some of the gaps I've got the lorry through this year!  On arrival we were greeted by Stuart the organiser, and others, who had stayed to meet us and had been sampling the delights of the bar whilst waiting for us - so we had a very jolly reception!  We shoved the horses out in the arena and went about setting everything up.  Helen, Sophie and myself have honed the set up into a fine process now, so within forty-five minutes we were done.  The horses were bedded down in their stables and we were bedded down in the lorry!

It wasn't a particularly early start the next day, so we all managed to get a good nights sleep - Helen and I aided by our anti-Sophie-snoring earplugs!  Ibstock is the closest show we do to Oxfordshire and where I used to live, so we were due a couple of visitors.  Before long both Mark and Richard had arrived and we were entertaining guests!  It's always lovely to see familiar faces, so they were both very welcome - especially as Richard bought donuts!  There were quite a few people there who we remembered from 2012, it really is always lovely to get repeat bookings from shows and see people from year to year.  One of our biggest fans, Alice, was there and it was great to see her again.  We'd be seeing her again before long too as she was planning on coming to see us in a few weeks at our final show of the year in Stapleford.

Before long it was time for Casper's show, and given how naughty he was at Ibstock last year I was desperate for him to behave.  My pleading and wishes fell on deaf ears though and once again he was sooooo naughty!  I spent the whole of the first freestyle hanging on for dear life as he did the wheel of death around the circle, although I did still manage to do all my moves and even went upside down (intentionally!) - but I'm not sure how pretty any of it looked!  He was very good for the dancing though, and then absolutely flew around the arena for his games.  It was too much though, and at the end of the chase section he got too close and stood on my heel - taking a massive chunk of it out with his hoof.  Oww.  It's a good job my shoes are red, as it was bleeding quite a bit.  I tried not to look at it (I find injuries only really start to hurt if you can see them?!) and carried on with the rest of the show.  Thankfully Casper pulled himself together and finished the show beautifully - however naughty he is he always seems to redeem himself pretty quickly, I can never stay angry with him for long!

Tinker did a lovely show as usual, so all in all we had a great day.  I really love Ibstock Country Fair, everybody is so friendly and we get looked after so well, I really hope we can go back again another year.  Next up is Stockton Summer Show on the bank holiday Sunday and Monday.  I rode there with the Devil's Horsemen last year so it'll be nice to be there under my own steam this year.  It's the closest show to home so I expect there'll be a different batch of familiar faces!  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can see a few photos from our final road trip by clicking here.

Love Rosie x

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Slaley Show

 Photo by Daniel Graham

 Photo by Daniel Graham

Saturday 10th August and we were up in Northumberland for Slaley Show.  We'd travelled up on Friday afternoon, and had yet another new girl with us!  Chloe had stepped in at the last minute, and although she knew my horses (she comes and helps us out at home with the birds on Saturday mornings throughout the winter) she didn't know the show and had never even really seen vaulting!

The arena was the perfect size for us, although the grass was LONG!  When we arrived and took the horses off the lorry, their eyes lit up and when we turned them out in the arena whilst we set up they just ate and ate and ate!!  Although the horses love the long grass I knew it would be problematic come show time, especially during their dances.  Keeping them from eating during shows is hard enough at the best of times, but I knew temptation would be too much for them here!  We spent the evening running through the show with Chloe, which we're very good at now as we have now taught seven different girls what to do!

Come the morning Ben and Becca arrived with the Eagle and Vulture Team, and it's always nice having them at the same show.  There was plenty going on, and it was soon time for our shows.  Casper was up first as usual, and we'd done a lovely warm up but for some reason he was really excitable and went steaming in at a hundred miles an hour!  The first freestyle was quite interesting as he was still going fast, but I managed every move and he settled eventually.  And then it was time for his dancing.  And my earlier concerns turned out to be well founded as all he wanted to do was eat!  Every time I even took myself slightly away from his head (which is pretty frequently during the dance) he was straight down and stuffing his face.  All the audience seemed to think it was very funny, so we just had to go along with it and try not to get too annoyed with him!  I had the same problem during his games - especially when I threw his catch toy, it literally just vanished in the grass!  Aside from the mid show snacking, the show went through really well, and I was really pleased with Casper.

In between our shows there was lots going on in the arena.  My favourite was the fancy dress class, where there was loads of different costume combinations.  My particular favourite was the Tesco burger pony, who was being ridden by a chef and had an 'every little helps' sign on it's bottom!  Tinker really liked them as well, and he stood by the fence watching them all go by - he looked like one of the judges!

Before long it was Tink's turn.  As ususal he was really good - although even he attempted some mid show snacking as well, and he definitely knows better!  It was all going really well until the very end.  Tink had been quite lazy throughout the final freestyle and I was working really hard to keep him going at a decent pace.  I was standing up on him waving my fan and felt him slowing down so I gave him a good shout.  He normally ignores me but I must have sounded particularly convincing as he shot forwards causing me to go straight out the back door!  Whoops!!  I feel very silly, but I got back on and finished as I should - with no more shouting at Tinker!

We have got LOADS of photos from Slaley Show, as two different photographers both took lots.  I've put them all together into one album, so just click here to see them.

Next up is a bit of a road trip.  We're up in Scotland at Sanquhar Riding of the Marches on Saturday, before trucking down to Leicestershire for Ibstock Country Fair.  I'll let you know how we get on!

Love Rosie x

Garstang Show

Photo copyright Garstang Show

Back at the start of the month we all set off for Garstang Show.  It was the usual four of us, but we had Helen's sister Megan along to help this time.  We were due to perform our double act show - for the last time this year!  Last time we did it, back at Byfleet Parish Day, it went really well, so I was hoping for a repeat performance.  

On arrival we were met by a lady called Sally, and her two dogs Guess and What.  Sally took me up to see the arena, and it was an absolute monster!  Easily the biggest arena Casper would ever have seen, and probably one of the biggest for Tinker too.  Luckily it was divided up for the various showing sections, so I managed to arrange for some of the barriers to remain in place, meaning we would work at one end of the arena - right in front of the grandstand!

In the morning we had a really good warm up. I'm very lucky that Helen is able to warm the Tink up for me, as it means I can concentrate my efforts on Casper.  Megan lunged him for me and he was lovely to vault on, although this always makes me nervous for the show!  It was soon time to go up for the show, the only slight problem we encountered was the incredibly efficient stewards, who wouldn't let us go up to the arena as we didn't have our wristbands on.  Cue a quick sprint back to the lorry for Helen!  

As often happens where there's lots of showing classes the arena was running slightly behind schedule.  However, as we were only using half the arena it meant the next showing class could go on at the same time as our display.  I knew my two would be fine with it, but I was very impressed with the showing horses, as they had to contend with us whilst trying to put on their best showing effort.  At one point I was charging around doing Roman riding, with somebody doing their individual display - obviously not ideal for them, I hope they got extra marks for not being fazed by us!  It looked nice though, as the class was for coloured ridden horses, so they all fitted in nicely with my two!!

The show all went through really well, and I was especially pleased with the Roman riding as I'd put Casper back on the outside.  It makes sense as he has a longer stride than Tinker, but Tinker had taken exception to it back in May at Ilkley Carnival and I didn't want a repeat of that episode!  Now that Casper has more confidence he's more than capable of going on the outside and it worked well, so hopefully we can stay like this from now on.  

The crowd were brilliant all the way through, and clapped and cheered in all the right places which was lovely! Following the show we went for the meet and greet and were absolutely mobbed.  We must have been there for a good hour chattering to everybody, and we sold lots of horseshoes, posters and key rings.  We met a couple of local dignitaries, and had our photos taken with them, which I think have now made their way onto the Garstang Show website!  Everybody was so welcoming and friendly, I really hope it's a show we go back to another year.

It was quite a long way between the lorry and the arena, and unfortunately the trolley decided it just couldn't cope with the return journey - one of its wheels sheared clean off!  Luckily there was lots of young farmers to hand, and Helen soon press ganged a couple of them in to carrying all our props and kit back down to the lorry.  No mean feat when you have eight bases each weighing fifteen kilos, as well as all the other kit!

Next week we're up in Northumberland for Slaley Show.  Ben is going to be there with the Eagle and Vulture Team as well, and I always enjoy having him at shows with us so I'm looking forward to it.  I'll let you know how we get on, but in the meantime you can see some photos from Garstang by clicking here.

Love Rosie x