Monday, 21 September 2015

British Horseback Archery Championships

So the long-awaited weekend finally arrived. Back in July I decided to bite the bullet and actually take my horses to a competition. Of course it just happened to be a five hour drive away in Cornwall, but that was the venue for this year's competition, so that was where we were going.

Having arranged to hire a lorry for the horses, I got an email on Monday saying it was at the garage with mechanical problems so wouldn't be available after all. Spent most of the rest of the day frantically calling round to get a replacement, and thankfully found one fairly locally.

Crisis averted, we went to fetch it on Friday and I carefully steered around some little lanes back to the yard ready to load up. Luckily there was a large storage compartment in the back since we had to fit in a lot of stuff: saddles, bows, fancy dress outfits, spare hay, the dog.....

The horses went straight in, they seem to prefer a rear-facing lorry and started attacking their hay. We got to watch them on a little monitor in the cab. When the lorry was in reverse gear the monitor changed to show the view out the back, which was just as well given my reversing skills ;-)

The trip down was pretty straightforward, mostly motorway and dual carriageway and we got there in 5 hours. Unloaded the horses, let them into a little paddock for a roll and some grass and went to check out the archery field. This just happened to be next door to the caravan park where we were staying so we checked in there too.

Then it was time to fetch the horses and show them around a bit. G of course too it all in his stride, but Sky was a lot more suspicious of the strange things dotted about.....

But there were no tantrums, so we wandered back up to the yard and turned them out for the night, whilst we retired to the pub.

Next morning we were up and organised bright and early (even got breakfast cooked by our mate Adam who chose to squat on the sofa in the caravan rather than sleep in his tent) getting G kitted out in his fancy dress for the kid's competition. There were only three of them, so we put the boys on G and made Éowyn ride Sky. Doing a few runs at the walk seemed to settle her (Sky) down a bit and she stopped worrying about the sound of the arrows hitting the target. And a fair few of Éowyn's arrows did hit, she even got a 5 on one of her runs, and she came first :-)

By the time they'd finished, some more horses had arrived and the Hungarian competition got underway. As soon as the speed increased, all Sky's calmness went out of the window and she seemed intent on trying to break the land speed record, doing some of her runs in less than 9 seconds, which meant poor Alex didn't get a chance to shoot many arrows. We persuaded Ali to give it a go on Gandalf too. I had no intention of even trying, since I can't hit a target on the ground, let alone one up in the air.......

Then it was back to the yard and Cornish pasties for lunch. In the afternoon was the Aussie Triple competition, which is reserved for those at student grades (more about the grading system here), and for those who haven't even got a student badge yet 'cos they can't hit a  barn door (me). And true to form, I didn't hit a thing. But it was fun though, as you can see I was hating every minute.....
So that was day 1. Rounded off with a trip to the pub, naturally.

Day 2 began much the same (eggs for breakfast again). The morning's competition was the Korean. Given my spectacular performance in the Aussie Triple, I elected to give this a miss and gave Alex the ride on Gandalf so she might stand a chance of scoring something as he doesn't feel the need to gallop full tilt down the track. So Ali got the hooligan pony, who was a bit better, some of the time......
My favourite of the horses there was Dolly, who Adam was riding.
My sort of horsie. Big, brassy, real leg-at-each-corner type. Very opinionated.  Reminded me of a mare I used to own......anyway, she made a real impression thundering down the track. And they came 3rd in the overall competition.

More pasties for lunch, to follow the tea and biscuits some locals had kindly provided for us that morning. Then all that remained was for Ali and Sky to do the Aussie Triple as they hadn't had time the day before. By this time, Missy was getting a tad fed up with running up and down so tried to go even faster, setting off like someone had set fire to her tail, resulting in some choice swearing from Ali (in French, of course!).

She did eventually manage to get a few shots off......
....but we still have a way to go. But generally I was really pleased with the horses this weekend, they took it all in their stride and didn't stress too much about the loooooong journey, loaded perfectly and travelled quietly. It was a lot to ask, really, and they delivered.

After Ali's runs were finished, we packed up and left as I wanted to get back before midnight and in the end, apart from a bit of a queue on the M4 near Bristol, the journey home was very smooth. Nice Renault Master lorry was easy to drive and probably had a better turning circle than my car. If only I could afford one!

We left before the main prize giving, although Éowyn had got her certificate earlier.

On the way back, got a text from Alex to say even I'd got a rosette, as there weren't that many of us doing the Aussie Triple. So it was all worth it then :-)

Now to find more time to practise for the next competition.........

1 comment:

English Rider said...

Who knew that the Cornish had such fun events. They have progressed far beyond the old "Wrecking" days. Nothing remotely exciting about riding in California, although we have a good pasty source. It's going to be demo'd once the new Apple HQ gets a bit further along, unfortunately. I'm stockpiling pasties in my freezer.

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