We'd been building up to this for quite a while, training Dexter to walk and trot nicely and to stand like a good boy while the judge judges. We had bathed him three times, brushed through his mane and tail, oiled his feet and trimmed his face. We had manically run around Kent and Sussex as well as trawling eBay to collect the outfit necessary to take him to the competition. A strange tradition of tweeds and Victorian looking collars, culottes and navy tights - all to show Dexter off as a pony capable of teaching a small child to ride.
We had never done anything quite like this before, let alone at county level. P was silent as we dressed her in her finery, her quietness betraying her nerves. Dexter dozed in the hot sun as we waited to enter the ring, the woollen scratchiness of the tweed irritated my head and the heat of the day made our outfits hot and heavy. Fourteen ponies, their riders and leaders all entered the ring hoping for a rosette.
I have no idea what the judge was looking for but I know that Dexter behaved himself impeccably, P rode beuatifully and we all had a brilliant time.
We were 11th out of the fourteen, nowhere near the top but the judge gave us a consolation rosette anyway.
"I came 'special' " P exclaimed excitedly - yes my lovely, you came 'special' and a very proud mama I am too.