Enter autumn; stage left
Since joining The Devils Horsemen, I have had the opportunity to go out and do a lot of things I never expected or imagined I’d be able to do. Not least because previously I would never have thought I was capable. If nothing else, working for the Devils has given me an inordinate boost of confidence when it comes to being on horseback. There are moments I still can’t quite believe this is my job. And, as in all things, moments I wonder what I’m doing in this crazy crazy world.
Last weekend was our final show of the season. Originally I was not attending, having done a number of other things the previous couple of weeks. It was another groom’s turn to camp out and spend money and ride ponies in front of a crowd. All things change, however, and it was on Thursday afternoon during another show (also one I was not scheduled in to be on) that I received a message asking me to do the weekend show as well. It is a rare thing here for anyone to know much in advance. Our plans change every five minutes, and so I was not surprised at the last minute alterations. Nor was I disappointed to be heading to another show. I do love a good show!
Friday afternoon rolled around and we bandaged and loaded our show team, having piled all the tack and buckets and feed and rugs and costumes and flags and boots and various other paraphernalia into the lorry earlier in the day. Off we trundled, lorry groaning under the weight of so much stuff and so many horses, to the Midlands Game Fair which I then learned was to be our last show of the season. Unfortunately, due to traffic, we arrived quite late and only had about half an hour of daylight left before the sun disappeared over the horizon and we were forced to resort to car headlights and phone torches to complete the set up of the horse tent. Once finished, hay and water and supper divvied out to our eight ponies, and personal tents set up ready for a chilly night of camping, we retired to the back of the lorry where we sat down to eat cheese and drink wine in the somewhat nippy evening air.
Shows are a very sociable affair with the Devils. It’s a thing I used to struggle with, as you know, being around so many people. My personal issues have little chance to surface these days though, and I cannot say that I am disappointed at that. I still prefer my personal space when it comes to physical contact and such, but being in a large group is no longer such a distasteful prospect. In fact, I rather enjoy it. At this particular show, the second evening was positively delightful. Through the combined genius of Alex, Adam, Sam and I, a rather effective and cosy little campfire inside an old metal oil drum was created and the alcohol was flowing freely from bottles to glasses. And sometimes straight to mouths! We even crashed a rather lively party further down the showground. Without realising, of course! It wasn’t until a blonde lady started giving us the stink eye that we realised perhaps we ought not to be there. The band were on top form, however, so we stayed and clapped politely and sang along quietly at the back of the tent.
The evenings were sociable and fun, the nights were extremely cold in a tent and the daytime saw me spending far too much money on things I really didn’t need. But, it was the last show and I hadn’t bought anything at all from any of the others, so it didn’t seem so bad. Besides, you get some good deals at shows. And I bloody love my wool blanket!
Oh, and of course we performed our bits at the right times! Gallopy gallop, off we went. Flags raised, random made up words shouted from all angles, fluffy hats ruffling in the wind that rushed past us as we made our way around the arena completing the various manoeuvers. I may have crashed once and had to chuck my flag to the corner, but other than that it went well. And the little Colonel did a fair bit more flag training and gained more show experience. It was only his third one, and the first time he’d done a two day show, so all things considered he did very well indeed. The errors were my fault anyway, so I couldn’t be annoyed with him as he simply reacted to my bad judgement. Bless his heart.
The cold nights camping at the show were the first sign for me though, that autumn was on its way for real. It has been getting chillier by the day and my jumpers are starting to find themselves well used again! Despite the creeping cold, there are still beautiful days to enjoy. On location yesterday, doubling darling, I was told to canter down the most stunning avenue of Redwood trees. I wonder, dear reader, if you remember a previous post in which I expressed my sincere love of old Redwoods? If not, then I shall refresh your memory by simply saying that I find them the most awe-inspiring and beautiful pieces of nature. Something about a tree that big, one you can’t get your arms around, one that smells of history, something about those trees just resonates with me. I adore them. So cantering on a lovely stallion down this huge grassy avenue lined with Redwoods, sunlight glinting through. Oh my dear, it was simply wonderful. It is during moments like those that I truly appreciate being alive and that I am able to say with complete clarity and certainty that I love my job.
I later fell asleep in the cab of the lorry in a somewhat undignified manner but that’s a story I shall keep to myself!
Enjoy the rest of your day, lovely ones.