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Royal Highland Show, June 2003

What a show we had!

Elisedene

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We arrived at the showfield on Wednesday afternoon and got ourselves and the ponies organised. Sally was looking after everything at Fourmerk and called that evening to tell us that Hazel, who was not due to foal until 25th June, had had a filly foal - at least she was about 99% certain it was a filly, as Hazel wouldn't let Sally anywhere near! Sally had a similar experience last year when Kelpie foaled early, on the day we were returning from the show.

Thursday 19th June was in hand showing day, with Robin Stewart from Aberdeenshire judging the males and Heather Gow, the females. Whilst Vicki, my daughter, and Shona, my former student and friend, showed Rosemaree and her filly foal, Rhanna, in the brood mare and foal class, Ronnie was busy showing Rannoch, the three year old stallion, in the junior stallion class, where he was placed second, much to our delight. Rosemaree was also second and Rhanna was fourth.

In the break between adult and young females, Ronnie and I headed to the ring to watch the judging. In the collecting ring was Duncan Bonnar from Islay with his non-ridden yeld mare, Ballinton Jura. Duncan had arranged with someone to show the mare for him, but had been let down at the last minute. He asked if Ronnie would show Jura and, as we thought we had time to spare, Ronnie agreed. (We broke Jura, now twelve years old, to ride for Duncan). Jura was pulled in fourteenth initially, but after being run out, was moved up to sixth. Duncan was very pleased with the result.

At this point, Ronnie realised that the male championship was about to be judged and mild panic ensued as we had to get Vicki to bring Rannoch up to the ring to stand by. He didn't get anything in the championship, but we are more than pleased with his award.

After that, everything happened at breakneck speed! Ronnie showed Elisedene, the two year old filly, and to our great delight, she was first. She just sparkled! The yearling filly class was next, with Vicki showing Harmony and the rest of us getting Rosemaree, Rhanna and Elise ready for the championship. At this point, I realised, as I was grooming Rosemaree at the pony lines, that we didn't have enough people to get her and the foal up to the ring. A couple who paused to chat were thrown in at the deep end and Claire (other name unknown) was roped in to lead Rhanna. My most sincere thanks to her! Up at the collecting ring, I discovered that Vicki was standing second with Harmony and so I needed yet another helper. George (also surname unknown) took Harmony from Vicki who then, with Shona, took over the mare and foal. Thank you, George! Elise sparkled again with Ronnie handling her. Heather Gow selected Susan Wardrop's attractive Fallon of Carlung, a three year old filly, as her female champion. By this time, there were only Fallon and Elise left in the ring, whilst the stewards called for the second placed three year old filly to come into the ring. We hoped we had a chance of reserve, but the competition from the Whitefield filly was strong. After some deliberation, Heather told Ronnie to bring Elise forward as Reserve Female Champion! We are thrilled!

Susan Wardrop had a great day on Friday as well as Thursday, when she won the St John's Wells competition for the best matching pair of ponies by the same stallion or out of the same mare.

On Friday, Ronnie and I had volunteered to take a school group on a guided tour of the showfield for a hour for the Royal Highland Education Trust. This charity tries to bring the countryside to the classroom, relies on volunteers and is well worth support. Our first difficulty was finding the West gate where we were to meet our group! (Confession: we had to ask an English tourist, as we don't know that part of the showfield very well!). Our group was from Cellardyke Primary, near Anstruther, and all the children were extremely well behaved. We had to visit nine points on the showground, where the children collected stickers to put in a "passport". We did a little detour to show them our ponies and to try to explain what we do. We were slightly disappointed that they didn't ask us many questions, but I suppose there is so much to absorb in a short time that they were overloaded with all the sights, sounds and smells! All one can do in a hour's guided tour is to give a snapshot of the show. Anyone who would like to volunteer for next year's tours, should look at the RHET website (click here to to see what they do).

Other news from from the show was the wonderful success of Scott McGregor's ten year old stallion, Fyfedene, who was a well deserved Male Champion and Overall Highland Pony Champion. Fyfe was also competing in the ridden class on Friday and scooped the pool by being Ridden Champion. This feat was last achieved by Glenrannoch in 1969. Since that time, more competitions have been added to the Royal Highland Show. Fyfe went on to be the Supreme Champion Native Pony In Hand, the National Pony Society Mountain and Moorland In Hand Kilmannan Champion, the Cuddy Breeders Champion In Hand and the Supreme Ridden Champion of the show. This is a wonderful accolade to an amazing pony and well deserved for all the work that Scott and Barbara McVean, his rider, have put in.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we had to parade all the ponies. We managed the first two days, but ran our of helpers on Sunday, when we paraded only Elise. It's a lot of work parading five ponies! The Highland Pony Society party on Friday night was a super sociable night and it was lovely to meet friends old and new.

On Monday 23rd, when we tried to start the lorry to take the ponies home, the battery was flat. Our Breakdown Service managed to get it going again and then Rannoch decided, for the first time ever, that he would not load! Our thanks to Jane and Jennifer McNaught for their help! On approaching Stirling, we were pulled over by the Vehicle Inspectorate! We've never had that before. The inspector said we had a "tidy little truck"! All was well at Fourmerk and we are a tired, but happy couple!

There is such great camaraderie at the Royal Highland Show and everyone helps each other. I am indebted to many people, old friends and complete strangers, for giving us a hand. Thanks to Shona, Kim, Alison, Claire, George, Jane, Jennifer, Sally, Carly, Sheila K, Sheila Mc, Robin, Kirsten, Vicki and Colin and, of course, our twin grandchildren, Alexander and Eilidh (aged four and a half!). If I've forgotten anyone, I apologise, but my brain is still buzzing!

With so much work, I had no time to take photos, but I hope to get some from other people and post them here soon.