Perfectly poised on her impeccably polished pony, the child looks down her nose at Poppy.
“Shouldn’t you be in the home-produced class?” she sneers at Lucinda.
“We’re doing that one as well,” replies Lucinda, trying not to show how hurt she is — not for herself, but for Poppy, whom she loves more than anything. “We were coming anyway so we thought we might as well have a go.”
The child rolls her eyes. “Well, if you want to waste your money…”
Lucinda runs her hand down Poppy’s neat little plaits and manages not to say something rude. Her mother always told her that if she couldn’t think of anything nice to say, she shouldn’t say anything. She loves her showing — she sees all her friends, they can gossip in the line-up, she loves the show atmosphere, the burger van, the trade stands, but more than anything else she loves showing off Poppy, whom she believes is beautiful.
Unfortunately, there are a few children on the circuit like this unlovely creature. Her friends talk of bribes and back-scratching, altered marks and “facey” judging and Lucinda seen some of those things herself. But she mostly thinks that the judges judge what they see on the day and not everyone can win all the time.
In her class, the unpleasant child’s impeccably polished pony unleashes a volley of vicious bucks in canter down the long side, right in front of the judges, and is asked to leave the ring. Lucinda and Poppy are pulled in fifth and move up to fourth, which she thinks is perfectly fair. The top three are beautiful ponies and the winner headed the line at HOYS last year. Poppy behaves like a dream in their home-produced class and finishes second.
Lucinda is thrilled with her two rosettes but at the end of the day, she doesn’t much care. She knows she’s taking the best pony home.