Sunday 12th May - Cones Day (more photos can be seen on the gallery page)

Up at 6am, weather not great and quite chilly. The ponies had a walk out and some grass and then it we all cracked on with plaiting and grooming. Pip was really not amused, for those of you that don't know him he is not a great fan of being plaited! He says its not very manly!

Sara at this point had not made a decision as to which ponies to put in the wheel for the cones. Shuffle and Pip are usually the cones wheelers but not much practice has been done with Shuffle as we have been focusing a little more on bringing Josh on. After much deliberation we decide on Pip and Josh, with Fig and Jack up the front.

7.30am ponies were harnessed up. 8.10am Sara and grooms got dressed. Sara went off to walk the course as the only time you can walk the cones course at Royal Windsor is between 8.30am and 9.30am. The rest of us put the ponies too and drove them to the cones arena and walked them around until Sara had finished course walking.

A vets check on the move is done prior to the cones and all ponies passed with flying hooves!

Now the nerves really start kicking in, under 3 points between us in 4th place and 3rd place. The warm up was the usual chaos, it's a small space for 10 teams to be working in and all drivers seem to be so focused so forget their manners! I had to close my eyes on a few occasions!

Watching the first few go we could see the time was extremely difficult to do and in fact after the first 2 they extended the time allowed. However Sara knew she needed to go for it as the gingers little legs often struggle to make the time.  Sara drove a brilliant course, had 2 down and only just over the time. The driver lying in 3rd did not have such a good round and accumulated several penalty points which moved us up to 3rd place overall!  Last year we were 6th so a massive improvement.

All on a great high we then get told we had been randomly selected for blood testing. Pip started quaking in his shoes  as for the last 2 years we have also been 'randomly' selected and each time they have picked Pip who has a MASSIVE dislike to vets! Luckily this time they picked Jack who wee'd for them on command and had no problem with them removing half of his blood!

After the drama of that all over and done with and ponies all tucked up in their stables with plenty of hay we all had a lovely cup of tea and some lunch.

Finishing 3rd meant we were invited into the main arena at 4.30pm for the prize giving. So we packed up what we could and then went over to the show ground to spend some money and watch some showing.

It's cold and raining and we are all not particularly amused at having to hang around til gone 4pm. But it was so worth it. We also had to make a decision in which ponies to take in to the main arena. Jack and Fig would have to go in up the front as none of the others do. As for the wheelers Pip is not a fan of the crowds and noises, Shuff would be fine and we had no idea what Josh would do ! In the end we decided to leave Pip out, we found him a nice empty stable and left him munching away on the grass in there with not a care in the world. Shuff and Josh are both used to going in the left wheel but as we were putting them in together Josh had to go on the right. Poor boy I think be was probably in total shock with what happened next.

8 horse teams, 5 horse pairs and 5 pony teams all then drove into the main arena. I have to say it was the most amazing feeling ever. The crowd were clapping everyone but each time we went passed the seating stands the claps and cheering got so loud, people were whistling & shouting. We were the only Brits in the prize giving after all!!!  After a couple of times around the arena we were them all pulled into line for the prize giving. The Queen was there and presented the prizes to 1st place in each class. Unfortunately the Queen did not present ours but we did receive a rosette and an amazing trophy. I have told Sara that next year she needs to win so we can receive our rosette from the Queen! The ponies stood in line fantastically,  I think they were in awe of being so close to the Queen. Then in was lap of honour time and again the crowds went crazy every time we went past. The ponies were loving the attention and bouncing up and down in canter showing off. As we drove past the Queen Jack have her a little buck and Sara saluted her. I looked across and the Queen was clapping and had a huge smile on her face. It truly was amazing, it made me feel so great just sitting on the back of the carriage so I am sure it made Sara feel on top of the world.

Prize giving over it was all systems go to get the last bits packed up, the stabling down, ponies loaded and hit the road. On the road by 6pm and back to Bradbourne by just after 7.15pm. All cold and shattered but feeling great after an amazing two weeks.

Gingers will have a day off tomorrow and will be walked out in the morning just to double check everyone is ok. On Tuesday they are off to Sandy & John's for a few days for a very well deserved  holiday :)

Life at Bradbourne will carry on as normal for a while. Fitness work and training will be done with the Gingers over the next few weeks once they are back from holiday. Our next party is Sandringham in June.