This week, our much loved Brand Ambassador Katie Gray and her trusty steed BK took on the Australia Day Official HRCAV Combined Training Day hosted by Phoenix Riding Club. As usual, BK came home with a ribbon and Katie came home with some witty blog material....
Oh BK, you make my heart smile. While we can punch out a dressage test like nobody’s business some other equestrian sports have challenged us over the years.
There was the time we tried hunting, which we will not do again sober or before either of us turn 50, that is for sure! Showing... well I hope they all enjoyed the array of fungal infections we whipped up for our debut a few weeks ago...
Western is an option. We would no doubt make a ripper cutting pair. That horse can turn on a dime if faced with a wombat or almost anything else. But this is assuming we could provide our own cow (which would ideally remain still and very quiet). BK does take a while to get to know other animals and I can't see him happy to rope a cow we weren't well acquainted with. I am unsure that you can provide your own cutting cow... and we don't have any cows, nor am I handy with a rope so let's leave that one on ice for the time being.
Then there is show jumping. Plenty of advantages to showjumping: soft landings for the both of us, cool gear, impressive photos... so we occasionally moonlight. Today at a combined training day we jumped our first course in almost a year. BK handled it in his trademark style, staring incredulously at each of the 10 jumps before low and behold we would find ourselves on the other side to totter off in disbelief to the next! My long time SJ coach from my eventing days who was judging was no doubt weeping into his clip board, but hey. As my dad says, there are 100 ways to skin a rabbit.
A good dressage test had us in front by a few points though we copped 5 penalties as we jump below our dressage level. The winner got the cash but in second place with NO jump penalties we won our very own hoof black! I am hopeful that our next showjumping round will look marginally more professional, especially as my sponsors will be watching and if things go according to plan I may soon be jumping at about half of the height of their other Brand Ambassador... Thankfully I have some dressage days coming up to look vaguely proficient at soon.
This weekend, in the scorching 40 degree heat, our much loved Brand Ambassador and HRCAV stalwart Katie Gray competed at the HRCAV Top Team Trophy Show at Boneo Park. Katie's chosen disciplines are eventing and dressage, and her horse BK has a clear preference for dressage. So dressage has until recently been Katie's main focus. But in the spirit of many an intrepid HRCAV member, Katie is open to giving other disciplines a go.
So when her HRCAV Club Donvale asked if she would join their team at the TTT Showing, Katie wasn't about to let a complete lack of knowledge about what is involved in showing get in the way of supporting her Club! We were so excited for her we volunteered one of our own to be Katie's groom (probably because we felt guilty we didn't have any show gear in stock to offer her, other than some stunning white breeches.... but it turns out that beige or banana is actually the breech colour du jour in showing at the moment... oh well...). What ensued was a day that only needed the Benny Hill Show theme music to make it complete! Here is Katie's blog summing up the event....
The night before I had googled how to do a horse show, as I was unsure my gymkhana experience 25 years earlier would be enough to ensure success. I ended up on the EFA website and read that the horse must be well conformed, a good type and move well. I thought "we’ll be a shoe in". I can pin point a few factors which may have played a part in us not having a clean sweep of the board. One was when poor ol' BK came down with some kind of strange fungal infection a week or two before the show, leaving him with a smorgasboard of lumps and huge open sores on one side of his face. Not ideal for his first ever beauty contest. Still, a life time of winging it and an eternally positive attitude kept our spirits high.
When I went to plait BK up the night before the event, my husband refused to hand over his hair wax to aid the cause! And the soaring heat and incredible scabbiness meant I didn’t want to put a hood on the poor old boy. So by morning BK looked like a very sweet Rastafarian with bedraggled plaits. A complete absence of any showing gear was also not going to stand in my way (note to self, must find decent sponsors with show wear and not just super trendy casual riding gear) and I even managed to borrow a vest for a class! The total amount of bling we wore was in my pink hair tie I borrowed from my 4 year old daughter, hoof black we borrowed from a neighbor and some horse makeup that a friend had bought in 1993. My total lack of any showing apparel amongst a sea of sequins gave me flash backs to when I thought I would wear a coloured dress to Derby Day.
How was the show? As a dressage rider, accustomed to punching out a couple of well learned and rehearsed dressage tests and then chilling until the end of the day before moseying up to the scoreboard, all I can say is that it was relentless, flat chat and brutal! First up we joined 12 million other people in cantering around our arena, and were not awarded a ribbon despite my valiant success in preventing a bucking fit. I left the arena racking my brains trying to remember if I had in fact slept with the judge’s husband. Could there be any other explanation that my scabby un-blingy equine partner was not wearing blue satin?
Then before you could say "get the Aeroguard" there was another event, and another, and we only made it into about half of our classes. We totally missed ‘best educated’ (throwing a good few million dollars of dressage lessons down the drain) as my groom (and sponsor) and I were in the bar, trying to bring our facial colour down from puce to a steady maroon. We were fortunate that in the Level 2 rider class we worked on one rein and it was the rein which best hid BK's facial scabs that were sweating their way through the 1993 make up. As a result, we achieved our event highlight of 5th in a large class. After that we managed to miss 'pleasure mount', which is fortunate as anyone who had ever seen us on a trail ride would dispute that it was at all pleasureable. And had they had incorporated a tree stump or a runaway plastic bag in the routine we would have been in strife. We missed 'smartest-whatever-it-is-called' as I was trying to tame BK's Rastafarian locks.
Despite the fact that I could have cooked a BBQ on my head, my groom acquiring 3rd degree sunburn, my guzzling a lot of what I later found out to be bore water, and our complete lack of championship rug, I was pleased that BK worked well all day. Despite some early excitement, he settled well in what was a very challenging environment for him . And, as far as I can tell, no brain eating micro-orgaisms have invaded my head from the bore water.
Sh*ts and giggles they said it would be. More like speed dating meets the 3 legged race. Never again, I say, but I have said that before and if I come up with another cool team name, who knows? If I do go again I am going to pimp ol' BK up like there is no tomorrow, quatermarks, a coloured saddle blanket, a number breastplate thingy, the works (take note, sponsors)…. Meanwhile I yearn for AFBMCHEK and some written feedback on our performance, and I will make sure I get some hair gel of my own before our next outing, a Combined Training on Australia day.