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It's Qualifying Tickets All Round for Billy Bank

January seems to have flown past with lots of fun on the way. The young master scooped up a few cups at the York & Ainsty South Pony Club Awards Evening at the beginning of the month. Naturally he couldn't have done it without me, but he is always quick to share the praise… and rightly so!

Our first competition was a Pony Club qualifier for the Winter Area Final. It felt good to be back amongst our friends, catching up on all the gossip. It was a very competitive class with only the top four getting a ticket to the final in March.

The well-designed course at Port Royal gave us three places where we could make tight turns in the jump off. Due to the pair of us being rather over enthusiastic we missed the second turn and had to gallop (and don't I just love that) rather wildly to make up time. Thankfully, we finished fourth and have a place at the Area Final. Two other YAS members finished first and third so there will be a few of us there trying to qualify for the National Finals at Addington in April. Bring it on!

The pair of us enjoyed a great training session run by BE at Bishop Burton under the watchful eye of Phil Brown. He built some excellent fences to test our accuracy over skinnies and holding lines. The Old Girl rather rudely suggested I might not fit through the flags of one skinny fences having enjoyed too many mince pies over the holiday! Wait until she comes to hack me out next time!
The practice paid off when we headed to Bishop Burton for the jumping and style competition the following week. A tidy double clear saw us take second place in the BE90 Open and a qualifying spot for the final at Hartpury in February.

The Old Girl, in a moment of madness, had also entered us in the Novice which meant we had rather a long time to wait for that class. Both of us had switched off a bit by the time we came into jump and I hit the first fence. The Young Master and I then had a bit of a miscommunication into a large white gate, he wanted to go on four strides and I said five… result four and half strides and another fence down. We then got our acts together and jumped much better over some very skinny jumps and a bounce. The Old Girl was happy enough although she announced I needed to be fitter and she would have to hack me out when the Young Master is at college. That will never happen I thought...

Imagine my surprise when The Old Girl tacked me up on Tuesday and we set off on what promised to be a long ride. We had only gone about two miles when we passed a friend's farm. "Here we go" I thought as we turned in, "time for a coffee and a chat" I heard the words, the hunt is in the next village and I perked up. No such luck. Our ride was re-routed to avoid the hounds...maybe next time!

There is plenty on the horizon and February looks like being a super busy month. Someone special has a significant birthday coming up... any guesses as to who that might be? Don't forget to catch up with us next month and find out...
In the meantime I’ll keep eating the Fibre-Beet to give me plenty of slow release energy whilst maintaining hydration.

Best wishes

Billy Bank