When I was running a riding school a woman wanted to put on a musical ride in the winter, which she did. Several of the riders were 'my' kids.
It was fun.
Come spring she wanted to do another for the Pony Club Show. As the practises were on a Saturday I could t transport anyone to where they were practising so that was out for them.
They did the ride at the show and it was good.
A friend of mine and on the board of the County Show Committee called and asked if they put on a MR competition would I enter. I said we would and so we entered. There were just three teams and we came second to the PC who had been practising for months (we only had four weeks notice) They deserved to win.
The following year, 1977, the silver anniversary of Queen Elizabeth becoming queen, I was determined to beat the Pony Club. Again they put their ride on at the PC show and they were celebrating the Siver Jubilee. It was good. They had a rider, dressed as Queen Victoria, riding side saddle but being led by her mother and several unmounted children dancing around.
That gave me an idea. I had sixteen riders, I managed to beg and borrow eight sidesaddles.
I had a horse and trap with my two youngest pupils, four and five, dressed as a king and Queen in the phaeton, other of my pupils were on foot and eight riders sidesaddle and eight astride.
What I had learned from the previous rides was it was easier to set the ride to the music rather than music to the ride. We practised hard. The girls had black aprons (the sidesaddle skirts) made from old blackout material stolen from a high security prison by one of the rider's parents who worked there. The girls all had black bowler hats. Their parents bought them new white school shirts which I decorated with ruffles made from net curtain material. They had more net tied around their hats with long ribbons down their backs.
The boys all had top hats and long black tails (borrowed from several undertakers). Sheer fluke it worked out that we had all chestnuts and greys in the ride.
The music was catchy, people at the side of the ring were moving in time with it. They performed beautifully. The cheers and applause when they finished was surprising. It was all done at the trot as horse size varied from 13 - 16.1 hands. The movements were complex, lots of inter weaving and coming into line one behind the other almost nose to tail.
They had four judges. Two were ex ball room dance champions, the other was an elderly lady and the forth a younger woman.
When it was announced that the Pony Club had won there's was silence apart from the PC riders cheering. Hardly any applause from the onlookers.
We came second (there were five teams.) The PC went first and we went third.
I was so disappointed at first and then enraged. I have never been a bad looser in my life but I was furious at the children had been robbed.
They went in for the presentation and the Pny Club riders and foot troupe all got a rosette each. We were given just one ribbons, albeit a nice commemorative one but only the one. The odd thing was that they had exactly the right amount of ribbons for the PC.
I went straight to the commentator (my friend who had organised the MRs and asked him what the heck was going on. He was as shocked as me. I then went to find the judges, all having tea and cake in the judges tent. Without preamble I demanded to know how itmwas judges. Straight away one woman shoved an envelope in front of me with marks written on it. Top was 89, second was 56, third was 94 and the other two in lower figures.
I pointed out that we had ridden third and was told she has written the PC score to low on the paper and ours was written on the top.
I stared her straight in the eye and if looks could kill she would have died on the spot. I just stated (in my teaching voice (not shouting) so all could hear both inside and outside he tent,) that I knew my children had been robbed.
I refused to do another ride at the County Show so it was stopped.
The two ball room judges came over and told me that three of them had all thought our ride was way above the others but the other woman who was the only one who knew about horses, pulled us apart on technicalities.
We,were,still ahead on the scoring but she changed it around writing it out for the commentator. Turns out she was the sister in law of the PC trainer.
I was so proud of those children, they performed to perfection. The little queen, Claudia, asked if they had done something wrong, that nearly broke my heart.
A couple of weeks later the show committee offered to reverse the results but I said it was way to late for that.
I hated the bitter taste in my mouth.