After a busy summer competing and teaching, Maddie and Rooney had a little down time this week before they return to university.
We were more than lucky with the weather and Rooney was on very good form. Interestingly, as the morning progressed, it was clear he really just wanted her to ride him rather than be alongside him on the ground. And on the basis that he'd been bathed, bandaged and plaited, I can see his point - usually this amount of pampering means only one thing - a trip out to a dressage party. No such thing, he stayed at home for a walk about his fields.
His character really shone through and the relationship the two have is lovely to watch. Rooney usually loves a treat (in fact sugar lumps are by far his most favourite), but playing to the camera for one didn't cut it at all. Even photographer props had little impact on his demeanour, he just looked at them a little sideways on and moved on, literally. If Maddie hadn't followed, he would have carried on walking anyway.
However, once Maddie decided that getting on board might get a better reaction, Rooney was almost relieved. He's become such a part of her life and while the back-up crew (Mum Nikki, Dad Ronan, sister Olivia and instructor Annie) all have vital roles to play in Rooney's day to day life, it is Maddie he looks to when it matters.
This summer, as well as teaching the Hampshire Hunt Pony Club, Maddie and Rooney competed at the Pony Club Area Qualifiers, South East Regionals, Pony Club Championships and the Midway Champs. Rosettes a plenty, but there was some tough competition out there, which Maddie took in her stride, such a mature attitude even on the occasion things didn't always go according to plan. We all know that Rooney's reaction to performing on grass can be mixed and our 'relaxed' session this week proved exactly that. Put him on a surface and he seems to grow an inch or two, but at nearly 20, he's allowed a quirk or two.
A second year at Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester is around the corner along with a placement in Ireland in 2018. Looking forward to more excitement to come from these two.