Post by Toaster on Jan 15, 2019 14:40:10 GMT
This story missed the summer season to be printed in a magazine so I thought Id put it up as it may as well entertain someone (hopefully!)
some background: I own the ponies, Isla is the girl who rides them and Mary is her mother, we try our best to appear credible at shows.....
As milestones came and went we hit the big one - our first stay away show. It was nearly ten years since I had a holiday and this was going to be the closest I would get for some time. Four days of sunshine, rosettes and cheap cider were on the cards, that and someone else's child. Even at over forty years old I was still barely an adult so we agreed that Isla's mother would look after the mum stuff such as cooking, shopping and child wrangling and I would deal with the pony
It took a whole day to pack the horsebox. In need of a bed I raided my ancient 'tea room' caravan at the field and relieved it of its seat cushions which looked like they would cushion a sleeping human quite sufficiently and piled them in to the horsebox along with two crates of cider and enough sweets to sink a battleship.
I loaded Ruby who looked surprised to be surrounded by the contents of my house as she leaned over the rear wall of the box and sniffed the haphazard pile of towels, plastic plates and haynets, she knew that whatever was afoot wasn't going to be good, she looked around for an escape but her way was blocked with caravan cushions, she sighed heavily and tucking in to her haynet she closed her eyes no doubt dreaming of posh lorries with cream partitions and luggage compartments.
On arrival at the showground Mary drove her car and caravan up to the side of the horsebox and we cluelessly produced fistfuls of paperwork for the officials in return for a stable number. Despite being first timers I was pleased to note that we had successfully bagged a spot that was equidistant from the stable and the toilet block.
Wheelbarrow piled with lavender scented woodshavings 'for the discerning equine' I weaved my way through a sea of paddling pools, go karts and dogs on leads to the stable where I covered the green grass in thick shavings and went back to repeat the journey with a goggle eyed Ruby. Once in the stable Ruby neighed for five minutes calling senselessly for Milo who was fifty miles away presumably on his back in the field at home toasting himself on being such a successful failure and dodging trips like this
Later that evening we squinted through the warm sunshine at Isla and Ruby trotting neat circles in the practice ring before returning to the caravan for cider and some witty exchanges. Happy with a tummy full of good food and drink I retired to the horsebox which had been cleaned out and whose rubber mats had been covered with my caravan cushions and the duvet from my bed at home, it looked warm and cosy, the ramp could not be shut from inside but i left it open and pulled a partition over as I sank into my temporary bed smugly thinking of the rosettes and happy days ahead.
I awoke freezing cold to the sound of torrential rain, my spine had apparently tried to make an escape through my chest in the night and pulling myself up on my elbows I felt them hit the rubber mats through the cushions which were in the cold light of day found wanting. The cosy quilt was now cold and clammy and condensation ran down the partition next to me. I lay still for some time wondering how the temperature had seemingly dropped thirty degrees inside ten hours and tried to psyche myself up to move. Being a large and ungainly lady I hadn't really thought through the process of standing up from my low position, my arms were too short to lift the rest of me, I pondered my predicament as Isla bounded up the ramp wearing an anorak and proceeded to wait patiently while I crashed around trying to get purchase on the wet partition before appearing upright, grumpy and dishevelled
After a shower I discovered that there was an optimum level of clothing required to ensure that you stay decent while not dragging everything you own across a wet floor and looking at the bottom of my skirt that sported a neat line of wetness I made a mental note to get it right tomorrow. A hot chocolate improved my mood immensely as the three of us examined the timetable for the day, two training classes and one inhand class, a nice relaxing day.
Some six hours later I was ready to pack up and go home, I had zig zagged the showground many times, walked countless miles and listened to Isla endlessly whine about her boots which were suddenly too tight, the three of us sat irritably eating beans on toast and no doubt thinking that we could have spent our hundreds of pounds on something more enjoyable. It was a very sombre group that reported to the evening performance training class later in the day with Isla on a last warning about mentioning her boots.
All of a sudden and I don't know how it happened we all suddenly kicked in to stay away show mode, it was as if a switch had been flicked and we suddenly turned super happy and super efficient, even to this day I don't know how I wasn't already at home sitting on my sofa with Ruby still standing in six inches of lavender shavings at the show wondering what on earth had happened as Mary stared puzzled at the path of grass where the horsebox had stood.
Isla had forgotten about her tight boots and beamed happily as her and Ruby somehow expertly weaved through the beam of the spotlight practicing her figures of eight, this would be her only chance to ride in the main arena, at least this year and we hoped that this practice class would stand her in good stead for the future.
Later on Ruby put away in her nice dry stable I stood on the ramp of the horsebox and surveyed my own damp bed, Mary appeared next to on her way to the recycling bins with a dozen empty bottles and reminded me that there was room in the caravan for me but terrified of shocking people with my dreadful snoring I stubbornly pulled the partition across and sank down into the clammy bedding.
The following morning inexplicably seemed colder and wetter than the previous one as I awoke and shifting uncomfortably considered the wisdom of sleeping on the floor of a horsebox. Some ten minutes later I was upright and emerged to wind and rain. The paddling pools from day one were piled up forgotten in hedges and I counted six collapsed gazebos. Ruby was thrilled to see me and seemed to be taking her first stay-away show in her stride a she happily accepted the delivery of a fresh haynet totally unconcerned about my sleeping arrangements.
Back at the caravan we went in to team huddle over some scrambled egg for this was the day of our big championship class, the one we had desperately wanted to qualify for. Isla had laid out her clothes for this day some three months ago she was that excited.
The rain was relentless as we journeyed from ring to ring picking up a small collection of pastel rosettes, Isla's boots started to peel from the wet and the rain dropped off the peak of her hat yet she remained cheery. Eventually we were ready for the last class , the Big One.
It wasn't surprising that the rain had driven some people to have an early finish and I carefully counted as the competitors entered the ring, there were eleven little neat and tidy first ridden show ponies in the ring. Eleven. Only ten went through to the evening performance and watching Isla and Ruby immaculate but hopelessly outclassed among the more established combinations in the ring I wasn't sure how I would deal with the fallout of this situation but then cheerfully remembered that I wasn't the parent and I only had to worry about Ruby who no doubt could not give a stuff about evening performances.
I was however very proud as I watched our little novice pair calmly execute a tidy show and stand patiently in line dripping wet but still looking very positive.
I was idly dreaming of an early finish and a good steak dinner when the loudspeaker jolted me in to life with a squawk as it announced that all eleven first ridden show ponies were invited in to the evening performance.
This announcement sent Mary and I in to instant meltdown as we realised that we were quite unprepared for such an occasion and rushing back to the stables we put Ruby away and frantically made calls to our saintly instructor Rachel who was elsewhere on the showground. Rachel appeared in time for a meal of beans on toast and efficiently started to calm the panic as she went through a checklist of everything we needed, I think we ticked off about twenty percent of the requirements as Rachel made calls and produced stocks and stock pins from nowhere like Mary Poppins before vanishing to deal with her own child.
I sent an immaculate Isla and Ruby ahead to the main arena and had a quick nervous breakdown in the caravan before mopping my brow and hobbling the half a mile to see the carnage.
To my surprise Ruby took everything in her stride and happily followed the other ponies albeit poking her nose and looking very novicey in comparison, she declined to stand still in line robbing me of a nice shiny mantelpiece-worthy evening performance photo. As predicted they propped up the end of the line but Mary and I were cheering regardless. Isla emerged from the ring in tears that her name had not been read out over the loudspeaker and the indignation from these two forty-something ladies that we would have given up pocket money for life in exchange for such an experience as children made her sob even more.
That night I sat on my bed in the caravan clutching a celebratory cider and looking out the horsebox and my abandoned damp duvet, Isla was fast asleep across the room clutching her gold and black rosette and Mary was pottering about tidying things away, she picked up the jod boots and suddenly exclaimed "oh! These are a size one I'm sure Isla is a two and a half!"
The giggling woke up Isla and everyone within a hundred yards