Like many little girls, I was pony mad as a kid. I adored reading books about ponies, from Black Beauty–probably the first book I cried over–to the Pullein-Thompson books, and finally my absolute favourites: the Jill books by Ruby Ferguson. Not only did Ms Ferguson have such an exotic first name to my young eyes, she wrote wonderfully and even made mucking out sound like the best chore in the world! I used to smuggle a torch up to my bedroom so that I could keep reading Jill’s adventures with Black Boy and Rapide long after I was supposed to be asleep. My dreams were always filled with Saturday morning hacks, riding in gymkhanas and pinning rosettes to my pony’s bridle. The reality of being dumped on my head several times during a wet pony trekking holiday was a lot less glamorous!!
So when Derby House invited me and my boys to spend a day out at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials I positively jumped at it! (Pun unintentional, but I like it and therefore it shall stay.)
We chose to go on Sunday for the cross-country as I thought the sheer speed of horses thundering past would appeal to my family of speed-freaks who are more used to horses prancing around under the bonnet of a F1 car.
After arriving to a very misty Blenheim Palace we were greeted by a rather astonishing piece of sand art. Carefully carved from sand over the previous three days, this horse looked like it was ready to stumble to its feet and canter away.
We stopped by the stables to meet some horses. Lucas and I thought this was really nice as big horses can be a little scary until you spend a little time with them. A few of the stalls had information boards propped up outside and it was lovely to learn a little more about the horses and of course, admire their hard-won rosettes. It was at this point, as I was explaining to Lucas why a man had a horse on a very long rope (lunging) that Dave decided I clearly knew more about horses than I’d let on, and appointed me tour guide. Eeek! If you’d like to know more about eventing and horse trials, Derby House have a brilliant article here.
Our first proper stop was the dog agility demonstration. I had a hunch Lucas would enjoy this and yeah…he was totally enthralled by it. We cheered on as dogs of all shapes and sizes jumped and wiggled their way round the course. He particularly liked a little Papillion who zoomed so fast around the course that he almost flew. Inevitably he now wants a dog…