A Horsey Break

My mother is doing well after her hip operation.  She’s been doing so well that, on Friday, we decided I could take the day off.  Mind you, her home help came in anyway, so she wasn’t entirely abandoned for the whole day!

I took myself off to Millstreet for the international horse show.  Millstreet has been running for more than thirty years – I remember going there with the LSH back when we were childless.  It always amazed me to be rubbing shoulders with the show-jumping greats – Harvey Smith was a regular visitor, as were the Whitakers and all of the top Irish riders of the day.  Millstreet was always the week after the Dublin Horse Show, so a lot of the Big Name Riders would stay on and travel down to County Cork.

Nowadays, it’s a second string international show.  It counts towards the FEI rankings all right, but the top riders all have bigger fish to fry – European Championships at Aachen next week, for example.

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The International Arena

Nonetheless, and despite a very public falling out with the governing body of show-jumping in Ireland, Millstreet has continued to grow and develop.  There have always been ‘ordinary’ jumping classes running in parallel with the international show, and it was a highlight of our yearly calendar back when the kids were jumping but it’s even bigger and better than before.

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Looking out over three of the National Arenas

The last time we were there (2006 probably), Tansy had the lovely (but slightly crazy) Bella in 148cm pony classes and our handsome Aero in Young Rider classes, both jumping on grass if I remember rightly.

Now, every single arena has an artificial surface.  There were seven outdoor arenas in action the day I was there, plus the indoor arena.  And, for each competition arena, there’s a warm-up, so that actually makes SIXTEEN artificial surfaces, all on the go.  That’s a big improvement on the olden days for sure!  There is also a new marquee which runs the full length of the main arena, so you can stay out of the rain while you spectate.  And believe me, it will rain at Millstreet.

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It was raining at the far end of the arena but hadn’t quite reached us yet

To be prepared for all weathers, I’ve reverted to wearing layers.  A t-shirt, sweater, gilet, raincoat, umbrella and sunglasses covers all eventualities.  I forgot about the wind though, and I ended up buying a baseball cap to stop my hair from blowing all over the place.  Which brings me rather nicely to shopping!  After a few quiet years, the equestrian merchants are back in force at Millstreet and there was a good range of shops to browse through.

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Some of the shopping area

I wasn’t tempted.  Jodhpurs for twenty euros and a baseball cap is more my style.

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Mrs Bargain Basement

I really enjoyed my day.  I watched some jumping for a while with Naomi, first one of the National competitions…

DSCF1088…then an international Grand Prix qualifier in the main arena for a while.

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The main arena used to be more interesting, with a Derby bank, a double of grassed banks and Duggan’s Dyke, which involved jumping over a ditch, going up a slope, jumping a fence on top of the slope, coming back down and jumping out over a second ditch.  Tansy’s first pony, Lady Ivy, was eliminated here every time she met this fence – with her previous owners as well as with us!  She just didn’t like it!  She’d love the main arena now that it’s gone!

These days, they have to contend with a giant screen instead of Duggan’s Dyke.  It looks to me like this horse is watching how well he refuses 😀

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I met loads of people I knew in the afternoon and caught up with several old friends.  I finally got to see Denise’s little girls in action (Denise is the friend who looked after our elderly pony Pepper when we left).

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Pony holding duty. It’s been a while.

Her older girl, Hazel, was jumping three ponies – lucky girl! – in the under-10 class.

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First pony – Max

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Second pony – Crystal

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Third pony – Rio

Max and Crystal were through to the jump-off.

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Max in the jump-off

Max jumped clear, fast enough for third place, but Hazel lost her concentration with Crystal and had a fence down although it looked like her time would be better until she ran into problems.

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Going for a tight turn with Crystal

Max receiving his prize.

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Ribbons! And a saddle cloth from the sponsor, Equestrian World of Maynooth.

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It’s a family affair. Daddy on the right, little sister, little brother, Mammy’s blond hair and Grandad holding the bay pony that’s hidden at the back.

The younger girl, Emma, was jumping in the Newcomers and started off well, but unfortunately Max decided that a) he’d had enough and b) he didn’t have to do what a six year old said and c) if he stopped just so she’d fall off.

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Max and Emma before Max decided he’d finished

Poor Emma was very sad but she’ll live to fight another day.

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The next day, Hazel went even better and jumped two clear rounds with all three ponies, finishing 3rd and 5th.  They have high hopes for the young pony, Rio.

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Maybe he’ll be the one to take Hazel and Emma to the Dublin Horse Show…

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