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23rd-25th July 2009

Report by Pat Guerin

Zhiwah - a really handy pony                        Zhiwah ready for the weather in his Prize rug

Zhiwah - a really handy pony ...                    ... and in his Prize rug        
Photo by        Photo by David Guerin               


I have always enjoyed the riding and the socialising at The Lindum Spirit and even though I am a good distance away I have managed to get there many times over the last few years. This summer we had arranged a two week holiday in Canada just prior to the Spirit and rather than attempt two or more days with a possibly less than fit horse I decided to enter one 40 km ride and then have a go at one of the many non Endurance classes on offer. As we do some dressage it seemed a good idea to go for the Pilgrim and see what fortune threw at Zhiwah in the Handy Pony. As for the 13 km NCR to be ridden at 10 kph I just hoped he might be a little tired and agree to go steadily. At least the dressage should run smoothly.

Oh just how wrong could I be!! The dressage arena was set up adjacent to the start of the Competitive Rides in the middle of the race course and naturally Zhiwah, failing to appreciate he was wearing different tack, thought he was off on another 40km romp round the gorgeous Lincolnshire countryside as he had done very successfully the day before. Calming him down seemed out of the question so we just had to go with the flow and hope we could stay in the arena. Janice Clare very kindly offered to call my test so leaving me free to concentrate on finding some air brakes. He was certainly “forward going” but perhaps not as “relaxed and working over his back” as is required to gain seriously good marks. Surprisingly we succeeded in passing each marker in the correct order and at the required pace and Zhiwah had almost begun to settle down and apply himself to the task in hand by the time we halted at X and saluted the judge. Perhaps not as competent a performance as I had hoped for but quite respectable.

Now a quick change of tack was needed before setting off on the very pleasant 13km ride. I had marked my map at 3km intervals so I could keep track of our progress and speed and all was going according to plan when I followed the wrong coloured arrows in the wood and had to do a rapid back track which necessitated a stretch of fast trot in the last kilometre. Then of course I had to hang around within sight of the finish until the time was right to cross the line. Typical!

I had no serious aspirations of success in the Handy Pony with my rather spooky arab. This was to be the real fun (and unknown) element of the competition for me so I went to wait in the queue and watch how it should be done. Unfortunately Zhiwah didn’t share my interest in proceedings and decided that standing in line just was not his scene. Not wanting to upset anyone I walked and trotted him round in circles out of the way during which he napped and fidgeted like a spoilt child. Naturally when our turn came I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. We rang the bell and trotted to the first marker where we were expected to stand for 10 seconds …… and amazingly he did. Not a shuffle or stomp to be seen! He then allowed me to pick up and move a bottle from one drum to another, he jumped the jump as if it wasn’t there and trotted on through the alley of orange plastic fencing and the bending poles before allowing me to dismount and mount on the white bench. Only at the gate (which was the one item I thought he would cope with) did we have a small hiccup as the wind caught it and blew it towards him in a threatening manner! How dare it! He cruised through the rest of the course like he’d been doing it for years and flounced through the finish with a triumphant gleam in his eye. I was amazed and delighted.

My amazement and delight increased later that evening when I discovered that we had won! That certainly was a very big…and extremely pleasant …surprise. Even more was to come as I was presented with prizes by Steve Berrisford of Performance Equestrian who had very generously sponsored the class. Included was an eye-catching Aerborn fluorescent waterproof rug which will be so useful in the not so distant winter weather.

I am extremely proud of my versatile little horse who even at seventeen never ceases to surprise me as to what he can accomplish. The Lindum Spirit is a fabulous venue and winning prizes is a great thrill. I would like to thank Thay, all her team of helpers and her many generous sponsors for putting on this prestigious competitive and social event for us all to enjoy.

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