Monday, March 8, 2010

Mundulla Show

All week I’d planned to drive up on Friday night and spend an extra-long long weekend at Mundulla for their 100th annual show. Come Friday, however, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make it, so it was a 5.30am start on Saturday for the 200km drive to the show. I arrived still conscious, which is a bonus, and then checked the programme only to find that my class would be the final event of the day.

This wasn’t really something to complain about – it gave me a chance to actually see the show, which was very impressive - Mundulla has about 350 residents, but Saturday saw almost 4,000 people enter the showground. This little country show was thriving – trade sites, sideshows, livestock, all manner of horse events, ute muster, vintage cars, pet show, vintage tractors, motorbikes and of course the indoor exhibits. They even had a Grand Parade, just like the Royal Shows, which included all the champion livestock and machinery. Well done, Mundulla!

I’ve been a fierce competitor in the “Watch the Clock” speed class for the last 7 or so years, but I’d only managed to win it for the first time last year, and I was eager for a repeat performance on Saturday afternoon. A $200 sports watch as first prize is great incentive to try your best! And it was a good start – up until fence number 5, I was making good time. But then I made a tight turn up to number 6, and everything wasn’t perfect, so little Jangles decided not to attempt that one. Precious time lost circling around for a second attempt meant that I wasn’t even good enough for a minor prize. My little sister, on the other hand, decided just that afternoon that she would enter the competition, did a lovely round, and won first prize. Some people.

Sunday was Championship day. We started the day off with a ritual that is unique to Mundulla – the “Blessing of the Horses”. The local pastor looks for anything with a reference to horses or animals and gives a brief service, and sometimes some of the dear old ladies of Mundulla will tell us some horsey tales from their youth. We used to sing, until the locals realised that us uncouth horse people don’t know any of the words. And then we take some time to remember fellow competitors and dear old horses who we’ve lost over the last year. It’s always well-attended, partly for the novelty factor of bringing your horse to “church”, but most of us wouldn’t dare miss it.

Jangles is B Grade, and not quite brave enough (or big enough) for the A&B Championship, so he had the day off. Which left me with little to do but help out in the arena, which means “pick up rails and move jumps” (or “yearly exercise”). It’s a great judge of character. You will see the spoilt young riders and rich owners watch a rail fall in front of them and not think to pick it up. Or the “ordinary people” of showjumping, who have worked so hard just to make it to the show and will still always run in to help re-set a jump. We certainly have an interesting mix of characters in our sport, and whilst not everybody wants to work, it's hard to be intimidated by the high-fliers when everybody is sunburnt, covered in dirt and has horse shit on their boots.

We had a terrific change of weather on Sunday night. All day it had been hot and sunny, but just on dark we began to hear the rumble of thunder in the distance, and soon we had a magnificent storm passing over the showground. The lightning was soon accompanied by a downpour of rain, which left the horse yards all muddy, but on the plus side, it washed the dust off everyone’s windscreens.

The storm was over by morning, and Jangles finally had his day on this, the fourth and final day of the show. Some people had left to make the trip home, but there were still plenty of competitors left to take part in this morning’s classes. Jangles was in the mood to go showjumping today, and he cantered around in his best textbook style (yes, they have showjumping textbooks, and they are very interesting). He won both of his classes – next stop, State Championships at the end of March!

Little Sprite, ready to face the day ... unfortunately, I'm not ready to wake up yet

Truck park during Sunday night's storm

Grand parade Saturday

"Blessing of the Horses" - Sunday morning

"Blessing of the Horses" - Sunday morning

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