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November 2011 Blog


Fresh from his success at the pet plan finals his lordship continued to consider himself a celebrity, striding through the yard with attitude and developing diva like attributes such as - not working in the rain (his hair could get wet) or when he considered it too hot (well it didn’t do to have unsightly sweat marks).


We had one more goal before retiring for the winter to get some much needed training in, the regionals, having won one of his prelims we only had one more competition to attend to get the other win required.  I had booked a holiday so much of November would be a write-off, so the last weekend in October was the only chance we had.


We didn’t try anything new with his training sessions, as it had become a game of “check me oot” and “look what I can do now” mostly not when asked which Afrika put down to artistic license, especially considering he was now an artiste at this poncing-round-a-rectangle stuff.  


We entered the 29th and 30th one prelim and one novice each day.  The novice tests were just a trial to see what needed further work before having a serious go at the next level.  


Arriving on the Saturday of the show we noticed that it was busy. Some very nice horses were warming up, generally miles away from us as HRH had decided that no, he was not going to co-operate and became very very unmanageable.  He was a tad “tense” and had opted for the “Rodeo Bill” warming up stylie and I was very very grateful for the sit-tight gel that my trainer had suggested for the day.  Walk was full of “impulsion” and trot was “orbital” the canter – well there was not any, well there was the odd stride inbetween the bronchs even asking for canter encouraged airs above the ground.  There were plenty of admiring gazes which were quickly followed by ooooooooooooh and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah akin to watching a fireworks display!  Still unable to get a canter without add-ons we were called for the prelim class.


I was not a hopefully bunny, not even of staying on in the humour he was in, but enter the ring we did.


To say that there was more give in a house brick would have been an understatement.  Like a synchronised swimmer my smile was fixed, my mother took her place to read as the test had gone completely out of my head.  There was an audience (which did not help his attitude) who looked on and my boots had developed a squeak which was audible in the total hush of the gallery.

He had plenty power and plenty of presence, the trot work was very light on his feet and he had his mono ear on.  I could feel the energy building as we approached our Achilles Heel, the first canter strike off!!!!!


Oh my god he went skyward, at one point I could actually see all of his four hooves!!!!!  The audience gasped and some of the faces went a funny pale colour.  I kept smiling and gave himself a slap with the stick which shocked him long enough for me to gather him up and get on with it. If I had let the reins out a millimetre it would have been carnage, oh his canter was uphill alright.  Still smiling (or clenching of teeth, whichever) we came to a halt at the end of the test – grim was the only word I could think of for it.  


The judge was superb.  As we walked past him he asked if I would like to try the canter transition again to ensure that he learned he could not get away with that.  Of course now that the test was done he popped into canter like a lamb (^%%$$$%^****””!!!!)


I was very down-hearted and I didn’t have long to wait for my novice test, back into the arena for our very first attempt at the next level.  Oh me!!!!  Why do I do this!!!  Nobody held a gun to my head.


Well even with a reader I went wrong in the test.  He managed the novice requirements no bother but we need to work on the medium trot as he is still needing to show more but I was not willing to jeopardise the rest of the test just to try too hard for that movement.  Also bearing in mind the prelim debacle I didn’t want to end up covered in Equisand!!!


Giving him a pat and his herby treat – life is not worth living if he does not get the occasional herby treat – I put on his travel attire.  His smugness plain for all to see.


My other half had come to watch my test for the first time and was indeed impressed with HRH (he did not see the prelim!!!) which just does not help.  Like a small child playing one parent off against the other he sucked up to him with my other half saying that Afrika could not possibly be bad as he looked ok to him – cue evil glower and muttering from me.


As we loaded up my mate shouted over that we would not need to come on the Sunday ???? eh why not???  She said you only went and won the prelim - !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Even with the carry on he had achieved such good marks for the rest of the test that the very low couple of marks didn’t stop us from winning!  Loved the “calmly ridden” comments on the test sheet when I collected it. To add to this we were second in the novice too.  


I was pleased that we had done better than expected but not happy with his attitude. I decided to come back and do one of the tests on Sunday so when we arrived back at the yard his bunches did not come out – this brought on the snorty huffs.  He had never done TWO days before so he put this down to an oversight by mother before packing his face with his supper.


On Sunday morning himself was not turned out into the fields with his mates so a face like a wet weekend greeted me over the stable door, eyebrows in his forelock and mono brow firmly fixed in place.


We arrived at the show ground and he was aghast – what the heck is going on here!!!  Why am I back I did all this yesterday!!!!  Dragging his hooves out of the trailer he stood glowering at me (I am not kidding horses can glower).  The warm-up was a little less keen than it was the day before and his humour descended into a mix of disbelief and utter misery.  He hung his head and huffed and puffed his way through his test, lip protruding and tail clamped.  He was so tired when I finished that he stood whilst I change his bridle for his headcollar, sweat accentuating his shocked look as it settled into the creases of his frown!


“Let that be a lesson to you young man” I said to him much to the amusement of the lady next to me.  It was all he could do to lift his head to give me a disapproving look. We also managed to come second in the novice on the Sunday even with him moving like he had diver’s boots on.

Back in his stable at the yard he barely had enough energy to eat, however, when I turned him back out into the field he rocketed off like a mad thing.


I have a feeling, I may be wrong, that he was pretending to be tired????


by Sarah Cooper

Afrika 004a