Sunday, 29 July 2012

The after show report

I love agricultural shows. I'm not sure if it's about seeing animals looking wonderfully well cared for and at their best, or the rather bizarre things you can see, such as drystone dyke exhibitions and dancing sheep to name a couple. Whatever, when I was asked to help out a friend with her carriage driving classes at the Border Union Show, something I've never done before or had any experience in, I said yes. I was a bit sad that I was already committed on Friday and couldn't get out of it or I would have been in the world of showing Shetlands in-hand, which is my comfort zone.

Luckily the day started well as, unlike the very early start that's demanded for in-hand classes - you have to be there early as judging tends to start at 8 am - I didn't need to be there until 9.30. It also helped that the sky was blue and sunny, though the forecast was threatening heavy showers later on. Still, a good start.

The only problem with taking part in an event I haven't a clue about is that I can't help with the tack. I don't know what goes where or even what it's supposed to look like. What I do know is that usually people take their very best carriages to show, but Anne (the friend I was helping) had had an accident with her youngster, who's just 4, a few weeks ago, where the carriage had turned over. Luckily no-one was hurt, but what it meant was that Daisy, the pony in question, was wary of the carriage, but was totally happy in the dogcart, which is... well a bit battered and bruised and next to all the other carriages at the show looked very scrappy. But far better that Daisy was happy to be there than being wary, as it was her first ever carriage driving show.

Anyway, once we'd got the dogcart and pony together we realised we were being waited for. Not a good thing to keep the judge waiting. We rushed off and got in the ring. I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing, but watched the other grooms and just followed them.

The six competitors went round and then were brought in. As groom I had to stand in front of the pony, keeping her straight. The judge went over the tack before Anne and Daisy had to do their individual show for the judge and immediately we were told we'd missed the curb chain off the tack. Of course in the real world this would be the groom's fault, but I totally absolve myself of guilt. There were other minor tacking misdemeanors to go along with this and by this time we absolutely knew we were bound to come in last. And we were right. However, imagine our surprise when we got our sixth place rosette and then the judge produced a cup. Apparently the first Shetland always gets a cup. I think the judge was as surprised as we were!
Anne with Daisy, the dogcart and the cup
After this we were asked to stay in for the next class to make up the numbers. I rushed off to grab the missing curb chain, we addressed the tacking issues and went back in the ring. Three ponies in this one and we came... third!

In the afternoon Anne took her other pony, Fingle in. He's 18 and bombproof. He's also tiny and was a huge hit with all the children. Sadly, not so with the judge and we came fourth out of four. And just as we were in the ring it poured. That was it for me. I'd had enough and after we'd got the ponies and cart back in the trailer I decided it was time for home.

Still, it was a lovely day and for the most part had been sunny and relatively warm and I had some interesting conversations and a good look round the show. Sadly I didn't get a photo of me with Doddy Weir, the Borders contribution to the Scottish and Lions Rugby teams, who always stewards at the event, as by the time I was finished with my morning pony duties he'd taken himself off somewhere else. I really wanted a pic as this year he had a different pair of tartan trews than the previous 2 years. Oh well, just have to try again next year. But just in case you've forgotten what his previous trews were like I've rehashed my photo from 2010 (I didn't get one last year either).

Don't you just love them trews!

 I thought I'd just end with a bit about the Olympics. I realise one of the things I feel is that I can get to watch sport I'd never usually see. I don't know much about archery, for instance, but watching the Italian men win gold with it all coming down to the last arrow late yesterday afternoon, was truly exciting. And today there's archery, rowing, sailing, swimming and a whole lot more. The only thing I worry about is my fitness. I can watch sport from 9 in the morning onwards and this is not conducive for anything more than high emotion, high blood pressure and slackening muscles. Oh well, as they say, the Olympics only comes round once every four years... so in some ways that's rather a good thing from my point of view.


  1. Well done with the carraige driving Vee. It's great fun-takes me back to my youth although we drove Welsh cobs. I'd love to have a go with Shetlands.

  2. You'll just have to come and visit then Denise.