Roleys claim to fame!

Roley really did meet royalty - Princess Anne even spoke to him! (she told him off for sharpening his teeth on the door).

I've had an amazing time at Hartpury National RDA Champs.I really didn't know how I would cope with my ACE but thankfully the facilities were fantastic with lots of space and even a shower in the same room.

When we arrived on Thursday 16th, they checked my pony and all his vaccinations/passport before they let us on site - that was truly nerve wracking as we'd driven nearly 5 hours and I know people have been turned away if the vacs aren't up to date (mum kept having nightmares about it!).

It was good to be there the day before my competition so we could plan doing my ACE and catheter. Mum always carries a rucksack with spare riding clothes etc in and we suss out where the nearest bathroom to the arena is for a quick change or to do my catheter. In the past I've gone through six changes of jodhpurs at a show so it's good to have a plan! (White jodhpurs are really not a great thing to wear with my problems and I normally wear a pull-up just to be safe).

I had plenty of time to enjoy the whole show and even tried some vaulting on a dummy horse.It was much harder than it looked.The lady explained how useful it was to teach children with autism as some don't like being too close and they are on a long lunge line so have to trust the horse.

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I managed my ACE on Thursday evening, though it did take about 2 hours in all. It was good not to have someone banging on the door asking what we were doing in there-that happened at our last show.

Friday morning was quite stressful as the tannoy asked us to go to our stable immediately. Roley was very unsettled and the vets wanted to sedate him as they didn't want him flattening Princess Anne! But it would mean he couldn't jump later in the day. Mum laughed and said he wasn't as bad at home so we took him for a walk and luckily he chilled out.

It was my turn to compete on Friday afternoon and as I am the first junior para show jumper it was decided to make a showcase of it. I still jumped in the competition for my grade(which is a level III due to lower leg weakness) but I couldn't be placed in the senior category. This worked well though and Roley jumped a brilliant double clear being quick against the clock.There was a great commentary explaining my problems and tremendous clapping and cheering which Roley loved!!

I really hope the publicity they give me will encourage other juniors to be classified. I didn't know anything about it last year so there must be many more struggling. I'm so much safer in the saddle because of my capped stirrups that stop my feet wedging-and I'm allowed to wear them in normal competitions as well.

https://www.facebook.com/caroline.toombes/videos/1091911667488403/?permPage=1

As we waved goodbye to Hartpury on Saturday morning I was hoping for a good rest, but I had to plan a talk on hidden disabilities, as I was going to my old primary school on Monday. After a couple of hours chatting with mum we hit on an idea. It was to tell a story of a puppy who was left out because he had to keep going to the vets or was in too much pain to play. All the other puppies thought he didn't want to play so stopped asking him.Once the puppies knew more they made the effort to play ball with him and give him snuggles.

I was so nervous giving the talk but once I started, it did get easier.When I did the second class it was even better. I also showed a picture of all the para riders lined up and there was one with crutches .I asked them to decide who had a disability-they were shocked when I said all of them.

The children really opened up when they asked questions.The best was a boy who wanted to know what was wrong with me and if I'd ever wet myself-when I said "yes lots", he wanted to know how it made me feel and was really concerned.There was no laughing, they all seemed to care.

I've been invited to go back and talk to more classes next term which is great but I need a seriously long rest first.