So, show day rolled around for Bob, and the weather had been very nice to us – it was dry and not windy! Bob behaved well on seeing the horsebox come out and, after a few hesitations, was on board in no time. He was a bit vocal when I left him to jump in the driver’s seat but settled down when he heard me chattering to him. A quick drive up the road and we were there.

As we unloaded, I think Bob was in heaven – a field full of long grass. Safe to say that took the majority of his attention once he realised there were other horses round him and no immediate danger. We even stood chatting to a lovely lady and her kids next to us whilst waiting for the classes to start, which was nice and helped us to relax. We went in for the In Hand Veteran and Bob was perfectly behaved, scooping a third place.

Man with horse

We then came out and were deciding what we wanted to do next. I got the brave idea of saddling him up, as he seemed calm; next thing I was aboard, and we were calmly wandering round the show ground. It seems such a minimal thing, but we haven’t ridden on grass all year and it was a big open field, and also my first time aboard at a show since my bad fall. I was beaming just walking him round the ground and it boosted my confidence loads. We asked if it was okay before a jump class to just walk him round the arena to look at the fences – we were allowed whilst they put the jumps up and he behaved so well, having a look but no naughtiness. I just wanted him to walk round a course with no pressure, to get him back used to it, and it did him the world of good.

We then untacked, as I had decided to put him in Handsomest Gelding, just for ring experience. I joked my partner could take him in if he wanted as there was no handler dress code and it was a novelty class. Shockingly, he took me up on the offer, took the reins and off they went! Bob won Handsomest Gelding and came fourth in Horse the Judge Would Most Like to Take Home. It was funny during the classes, as ringside we were all shouting across and reminding my partner that it was Bob who won, not him; my partner, however, is claiming the first-place rosette as his own as he did the class!

Woman running with horse

It made for such a happy and fun atmosphere with everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. I was so glad we had managed to take Bob out for the experience as it was such a positive and relaxed outing, with no pressure and just lots of fun. Local riding clubs are a great way to help horses get used to the show environment before taking them out to the more competitive venues, and everyone is always so helpful and friendly.

I know Autumn was relieved it wasn’t another outing for her this time, although we are still schooling her with the odd jump at home. Aria is getting stronger by the day; it is lovely to see her keeping up with the others – I saw her cantering across the field the other day for the first time in ages and was delighted to see her so happy.

Bob’s had another few lessons. We are improving the canter work and still managing to do jumps calmly, which is huge progress. We are keeping the jumps low at the moment to get him back into it, but I cannot wait until they start getting higher again.

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