There was a cunning plan – turf out the rabble at the end of October (done), purchase three race ponies for winter training (done), go on honeymoon to see if seven days alone with the Man was possible (done), send out invites since a spat a day seems a reasonable barometer of a marriage (done) and sit quietly surrounded by wedding finery and too many canapés till the end of December. Then Panic and get married in the first week in January.
Sit quietly in December? In the Fox household with The Mother planning a joint do – she is hitting a round one – not possible. The first idea that creeps into my head is Barroca. Why not; obviously nothing is going to run in March as it hasn’t stopped raining. That means getting the candidates in and if you are stabling three, you might as well bring in five because two extra hardly matters and someone might do a something. Then the liveries look sorry in the rain, so that is an extra top-up and we have twelve to look after while sorting the shoes, veil and table placings.
No time for the panic, just a cracking good party and an outstanding performance by the Chief Bridesmaid Bovril Fox and the two Flower girls Nala and Wellie Fox although the flowers on their collars were decimated before we even reached the Church. That was an experience in itself although I wasn’t too sure about the ‘or poorer’ bit and was surprised to hear the whole congregation cheer when the vicar said I was finally married. Past history catching up I suspect.
The rest of the mob came in two days later and then I had a flash of brilliance. Put everything up for sale on Facebook, yard, horses, lorry, tack and equipment and see what goes. I had an amazing response from the curious, the well-meaning and the genuinely interested. But this is the moment for a serious rant. If you have organised to try a horse, don’t worry about not turning up but do TEXT. We all go to a lot of trouble getting everything ready, not riding the possibles etc and time and again you let us down. If you have tried and make encouraging noises or plan a second visit with your Knowledge, then change your mind TEXT.
So back to The Sunshine Tour, to go or not to go. Positives – get the Yellow peril (Fleet Street) qualified for Badminton on the basis that two tests in the same arena gave us over 20 points improvement on the second go last time. Get the talented Watt (Bonero K) round a CCI2* having successfully completed an Advanced and a CIC3* last year. Now that I am a grade B rider, this will qualify us for greater things in 2017. Note to self, do not fall off, reverse qualification is the worst invention of the FEI and the reason so many of us retire after a stop.Take the Master (Islington) for a reward in the 1* and then, depending on his sense of humour try the CIC3*. Negatives – leaving the rest of the rabble at home and scrabbling to get Novice and Intermediate runs before looking at CI2* competitions. I will also need to employ a stand-in groom to cover and let us not forget the costs. I am still dithering.
It is thanking time now; first the unique Trev who repainted all the stables, the lovely people at Global Herbs whose supplements are a vital part of my horses’ health and the great support I have received from Red Mills whose feeding regime has resulted in eighteen glossy, fit horses. My thanks too to all the people round the yard liveries, grooms, vets, blacksmith and dentist and more especially to the Man who has survived the Good, the Bad and the Disastrous.