Just kids and ponies.
A day of rest. A day for getting up late; having a lazy lunch; relaxing in the garden on a warm afternoon, or in front of the TV when it’s raining.
Unless…you’re involved with a Riding Club.
If you’ve got horses, as I’ve said before on this blog, Sunday is a ‘work’ day. Horses don’t ‘lie-in’ – they expect to be fed, or let out, at the same time, day-in, day-out. Just because you might feel tired after a week’s work, well tough – that cuts no ice with our four-legged friends. And if, like me, you’re a Riding Club event organiser, the day starts that much earlier!
Sunday was our Riding Club’s first show of the year. Now, I’ve been helping at this club for…well, let’s just say more than 20 years. And being Chairman has certain advantages. I get to tell people what to do, for example, (except the ladies, whom you have to ask, nicely). I can skulk around, on the premise that I’m checking everyone else is okay, whilst actually avoiding any of the work myself. And I get to chat to other members, their parents and friends, which is all useful PR as well as helping me to avoid doing any work etc. etc.
But today, none of the ‘work avoidance’ schemes helped. I still ended up driving home a pony and trailer for a young lady who’d had a fall and hurt her shoulder, timekeeping in the jumping ring, and helping to load a horse who decided he didn’t really want to leave as he’d been enjoying himself too much. Then, of course, there was the clearing up afterwards. And litter-picking in the car park field. Another normal riding club show, really.
Except…I got to thinking that there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ club show. I’d better explain. Most of our members are junior riders – kids with ponies. They come from all sorts of backgrounds; their mounts are all different shapes and sizes. They ride to the show, or arrive in trailers and lorries that vary in standard from ‘I wouldn’t put my horse in that’ to something that would not look out of place in the box-park at Royal Windsor.
But if you were to stand in the collecting ring, and listen to kids shouting encouragement to their rivals in the jumping or gymkhana classes, many of whom they might only have met for the first time that day, you’d realise that a Riding Club show is actually something really rather special.
Just kids and ponies. But worth giving up Sunday for.