Once we'd exhausted our fill of heavy horses, we went in search of lunch, a seat and more ponies...
We made our way to the Thistle ring, where one of the Working Hunter Pony classes had just drawn to a close. The class is split into size divisions and judging by the appearance of a Shetland (which I'd have loved to see jump!) this was the smallest.
A very happy winner led the lap of honour.
While some of us stocked up on food and drink, the rest of us kept a keen eye out for a seat. It's always nearly impossible to get one by the Thistle ring as there's usually a dearth of benches and a huge number of people vying for the best view. Luckily this year the organisers had added a lot more benches, and some ladies were just in the process of getting up from theirs as we came to stand behind them, so we were able to slide into their spot without anyone else getting the chance! The only downside was that they were very low, so you had the unfortunate situation where you'd be very comfortable, but couldn't actually see anything because of all the advertisement banners!
I ended up having a seat for a few minutes then abandoning it completely so I could get pictures. XD
As usual there were a few ponies doing their best Arabian impression with big flowing strides and tail action.
It was quite a tricky course in places - there were two jumps in particular which caught several ponies out, and there were a number of refusals and falls.
This pair had a really good run to begin with...
...popping over the spookiest combination by far without trouble...
...and as they barrelled past me to the next I looked away to prepare my angle for the next fence, heard a gasp and suddenly the rider was on the floor. I missed the fall but the pony seems to have just gone 'nope!' at the last minute.
It was just a pity as they'd been doing so well, but alas, a fall automatically means elimination.
The fence that caught out the most was this combination, which looks pretty simple to start with until you realise that only a small portion of each fence is actually jumpable, and they have to change direction for the second part, or come in at an angle - something which seemed to put off a lot of ponies.
As a result, many of the jumps over it weren't the most polished as I think the riders were just determined to get over them one way or another!
This combination reeeeally didn't get on well at that double...
They were ok, and walked off to the crowd's applause.
These two made a very flashy pair - just look at that length of stride!
They jumped well...
...but that second part was to be their undoing! They refused it the first time, then after being taken round again, refused the first part!
These two had speed and confidence on their side.
They practically flew round the course...
...and put the spooky combination behind them easily!
I didn't miss the fall this time, though my camera did.
On the approach to the fence with all the sacks, the pony turned so suddenly that the girl went flying, taking the entire bridle off in the process! She stayed down for a minute, clearly winded, but got up and seemed to be in one piece. To the pony's credit, she stayed exactly where she was while stewards caught her and tended to her rider.
It was a real shame, as I was sure they'd have gone clear!
It wasn't all doom and gloom however, as plenty of others made their way round the course without any trouble, like this gorgeous Sec C.
Where we were standing allowed for some nice approach shots...
...not so much on the takeoff though!
I thought this grey was absolutely stunning.
While not quite as fluffy as the Fell from last year, this Dales/Fell pony was very striking!
Following on from that was a gloriously hairy Highland.
This one reminds me of this Maggie Bennet mini!
Damn you foliage! 😩
Ponies in the warmup ring are next!