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

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