I’ve never been very interested in horse shows. That probably comes from never winning anything at the ones I went to as a child - riding school ponies tend not to thrive in competitions they have never practised. That lack of interest shows in my writing: my horse books are all about enjoying ponies rather than competing on them.
But, ever since I bought my horse, I’ve been told that I should show him. “He looks so good,” everyone said. “His paces are perfect.” My granddaughter egged me on too. She was desperate to take him in for a class.
This year I finally ran out of excuses. There was a show coming up that was near enough to walk to. (We haven’t got a trailer). It also had several suitable classes where I could show him in hand. (He has a bad back so can’t be ridden.) So in early September, I set out from the yard with Kubus, suitably scrubbed and polished, and ambled along country lanes for an hour to the showground.
Having behaved impeccably en route, Kubus nearly fell apart when we stepped into the field. There was so much happening: strange horses, strange people and strange lorries, not to mention the football tournament happening next door. I say “nearly” because, after a couple of alarming minutes, he realised he was standing on succulent grass and started tucking in. From then on, his behaviour went back to being perfect. He didn’t bat an eye at the other horses provided he could eat and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy being out with the family for the day.
My granddaughter fulfilled her ambition by taking him into the prettiest mare/handsomest gelding class where he did everything she told him and even trotted perfectly in step with her. But when he was standing in the middle of the ring, he kept looking over to us at the ringside with an expression on his face that definitely said, “So what’s all this about? Why exactly am I standing here like a lemon trying to look pretty?”
He came third and, as the two placed above him were both mares, he really was the handsomest gelding. The beautiful yellow rosette was much appreciated by the humans, but it didn’t make much impression on Kubus. The high spot of his day was undoubtedly the picnic where every attempt to eat anything resulted in a large nose coming between us and the food. “Do horses eat hard-boiled eggs?” he asked. “How about mango? I’m sure we eat mango. And blueberries. And apples – definitely apples.”
I don’t know if we’ll ever go to another show, and I’m pretty sure I still won’t write about them. But we’ll definitely try another day out with the horse and, next time, we’ll take a packed lunch especially for him.