After a super early morning and long journey, I could barely contain my excitement when Olympia finally came into view. After hearing tales of Olympia from mum since I was young, it was like a dream come true to finally be there! Upon entering the building, I was astounded at seeing the size of the shopping village, I had saved up my money for today and I was dying to spend it.
We were running slightly late because the tube to Olympia apparently wasn't operating so we were forced to get a bus. Quickly finding our seats I was so pleased at the seats Sarah had manged to book for us. Bang in the middle, fourth row up, with a huge oxer directly in front of us, we had a perfect view of the arena. Oh my goodness those fences looked big!
Suddenly, girls in leotards and a man came out. The crowd was silent. We watched as a set of drums was set alight, and as the man began to play. It was amazing!!! The girls danced and twirled flaming batons, the act getting more and more dangerous as time went on! Soon they were hoola hooping, WHILE THE HOOP WAS ON FIRE!!!! Then they got out what looked like massive sparklers, and began twirling them to the beat of the drums! It was amazing, you could almost feel the heat of the flames!
The first class was a speed class, one round against the clock. Watching the riders was amazing, the way some seemed to be almost a part of the horse, and it made my toes curl in anticipation, some of the corners the did were absolutely terrifying. The whole crowd got behind the riders, if someone knocked down a pole the entire crowd would go "aw" or if someone clipped a pole, we would all gasp, or when it got to that final jump and they were so close, and everyone would lean forward saying "Go, go, go!" breaking into cheers if they cleared it. The atmosphere was amazing, electric!!! Pius Schwizer on Leonard completed an amazing fast round to just beat Sian O’Connor by a tiny margin, it was so tense watching the timing.
Next was the Kennel Club Medium Dog Jumping Grand Prix! The amount of control, yet speed that was used during the competition was astounding, and even when they went wrong they completed the course with a smile, and patted their dogs. I did wonder what Boss would make of it and decided we’d make a good comedy act!
The Ridden Mountain and Moorland Championship was actually surprisingly enjoyable for me, I'm not a big showing person but I definitely fell for some very nice ponies! One in particular was grey, and its long silver mane reminded me of moonlight! Then Jean-François Pignon gave a beautiful display of the bond a man and horse are capable of. The way they seemed to have complete trust in him was mesmerizing. I loved how the little Shetland pony seemed to have a mind of its own, and would often just wander off before Jean would find him and next thing you know the Shetland would just do what Jean wanted. On his own terms though!
The Shetland Pony Grand National was probably the sweetest thing you'll ever see! Their little legs were blurs underneath them, they were so cute! The commentator made it feel just like a day at the races and the Shetlands certainly believed that they were proper racehorses, how fabulous!
The Household Cavalry was amazing! The drummer really cool, I didn't know that the drum horse was actually steered by reins on the drummer’s feet! It was also quite funny, because it became clear pretty quickly that our Pony Club Musical Ride last year at camp was actually based of the moves that were used in this performance, just everything was in time, and no one had to canter to catch up. It really was a good display of riding.
The Six Bar was absolutely terrifying, I was scared, and I wasn't even competing! The atmosphere almost felt thick with suspense as the poles got higher and higher. It no longer mattered what country the riders were from, if they went clear the crowd went wild, if they didn't the crowd would be disappointed along with them. The anticipation palpable when it got to the 4th jump off, whoever cleared it would now be the winner, they would not put the fences up any higher as the horse would have been asked enough. Three were through, the crowd was behind Michael Whittaker, Victoria Gulliksen, a Norwegian rider, had managed to clip virtually every single pole in the entire competition, except the very last (and highest) jump, which she would clear with style each time! The audience couldn't believe it, we were all certain she was going to knock it down, and each time she would prove us wrong! Eduardo Alvarez Aznar a Spanish rider, had showed us all how to do it seemingly effortlessly. Before beginning, each time he would give the horse a pat on the neck once the bell had rung just taking a moment to calm them both before asking the question. His hands were beautiful over every jump, never catching the horse in the mouth. In fact, he jumped each jump so flawlessly, it was almost clinical. Michael’s horse retired and Eduardo jumped another flawless clear to go into the lead, leaving Victoria the only person between him and the prize. Victoria stormed down the line, once again clipping every one, the crowd held their breath as she approached the last, would she finally have one down? NO!! Her horse made a heroic leap for her and cleared 1.95m beautifully. What a finish! Victoria and Eduardo both won, but unfortunately, due to a genuine mistake, Victoria was not eligible to compete in that particular class, and was sadly disqualified. Still, fantastic rides from all the competitors, no matter who won.
The Finale was spectacular. This year they had a King Arthur theme, and Merlin appeared on the big screen! All the Knights came streaming in, wearing weird costumes that reminded me of the Knights in "Monty Python: The Holy Grail" and girls in red leotards danced alongside them. Queen Genevieve entered on a beautiful carriage, closely followed by Merlin on his own elaborate carriage accompanied by a unicorn! Finally, King Arthur himself came charging in, adorned in reds and gold, and was challenged by a set of "Evil Knights" dressed in black, then Sir Lancelot came galloping in, sporting silver and white, to help his King. Once both the Evil Knights had been beaten in Jousting, things deteriorated into a good old fashioned sword fight when finally, the Evil Knights were defeated when both were knocked off their horses! Yay! After a huge dance to celebrate the victory, Queen Genevieve, Arthur, Lancelot, and Merlin, all rode out to the cheers of the crowd.
But it was not over yet! It WAS Christmas! We had one last person to see! Father Christmas came riding in on a simple white carriage driven by two white horses, one with its hooves painted a sparkly green, the other horse sporting sparkly red, I recognised Equidivine’s sparkles!. Coming to a stop, with all the Knights and dancers lining the arena, Father Christmas led us in some Christmas Carols, before the lights dimmed for the final time in our afternoon.
After an amazing afternoon watching some truly fantastic horsemanship, I had money to burn, and things to buy. Squeal! The very first thing I bought was of course chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, and they were amazing. I bought bags and bags of lovely treats for Katrina and she’s going to look super smart this season in her new bling. We stopped by to say hello to Tottie Clothing, but they were so busy we didn’t disturb them, and we visited Jess Hill Art, from Twitter who was just lovely and has the most gorgeous paintings. I was so excited to find Equiclass who make those gorgeous blue riding boots that were in my Style Reins blog and even happier when the lady offered to let me try them on! Oh they are every bit as beautiful in real life as they look in the pics. We ended the day with Sarah and Nick our friends for nachos, it was lovely to sit and chat because we don’t see Sarah very often. After an amazing day, I just want to thank Sarah for making my dream of actually going to Olympia possible, I had the best time ever, and for being so amazing all year round, and for being such a truly awesome person to me. Thank you Sarah xoxoxo