Stay up to date with the trials and tribulations of former British pony dressage team rider, Katy Willings, as she prepares to ride 1,000km across the Mongolian wilderness in the Mongol Derby.

To support Katy visit: www.justgiving.com/katywillings/

I survived, but I didn’t win [25 September 2009]

This missive brings to a close a summer spent in preparation for, and joyful participation in, the trip of a lifetime for me — The Mongol Derby…

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Outward bound [18 August 2009]

I have already succumbed to the most pedestrian, least pioneering, least lion-hearted food substance on offer in the gargantuan terminal at Seoul airport….

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D Day minus 4 and counting [13 August 2009 at 13:32]

So, I am nearly there. In a week I will be in Mongolia. Crumbs. My final weekend in the Shire was spent in one continuous kit-test. Here is a quick run-down of the contestants and their performance…

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Girl afraid [6 August 2009 at 18:54]

Apologies for the radio silence of late – it has taken until now for me to draw anything remotely amusing from my chaotic goings on, and life is hard enough without someone blogging about how miserable they are…

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Boxing clever [28 July 2009 at 18:21]

Going great guns this week. I had my first ever boxing lesson on Monday night at the gym and really enjoyed myself. I always suspected I would have a talent for it, and, apart from a few instances of failing to guard my face (tip: no point keeping your hands high if they are actually behind your head) I think Bruno was quite impressed.

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Man alive! [24 July 2009 at 14:46]

I am back in the land of the living, back on the horse, back in the gym, and already wondering if all that sleep was just a dream (does that make any sense?) as I am back to being on my knees.

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Knicker nirvana and swine flu [16 July 2009 at 16:20]

Bit of a setback this week; I have been struck down with swine flu. Or, if not swine flu, some other random virus which is making me sweaty of forehead, racing of pulse, intolerant of food, ulcerated of throat and generally a bit pathetic. I am writing from my bed in the middle of the day, which is unusual, both because I never get sick, and because the wireless internet doesn’t ever reach my bedroom.

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Left, then left, then left again [13 July 2009 at 19:28]

Here’s a conundrum. You can only approach your horse from the left. Wolves, evil spirits and the like approach from the right. The horses will, quite reasonably, object if you follow suit. But in order to travel 40kms at a zippy pace without tiring your horse unnecessarily, you need to load him as equally as is possible… so how do you put stuff in the saddle bags on the right hand side of the horse?

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A life in numbers [9 July 2009 at 15:40]

Training sessions with Bruno: 2. He has been a bit kinder this week; it has got to the stage where, as I pick up my kit bag and tramp across Trafalgar Square to the gym, I start getting phantom pains in my back and limbs as my body realizes what it’s in for. I told him this. He laughed.

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What’s Mongolian for “it hurts here”? [5 July 2009 at 19:49]

Had two sessions with Bruno the Personal Trainer this week, and I’d say he has finally broken me. He tried to console me today by saying that my forearms would return to their normal shape and size by about tea time. Well, Bruno, it’s tea time now, and I still have two very fat forearms, and I can’t lift my arms above shoulder height. This is not very becoming…

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“I’m gonna need some bigger pants” [29 June 2009 at 22:22]

Sunday saw my endurance riding debut at the Black Knight ride, organised by Endurance GB South East Group. Thanks to the combined efforts and unstinting generosity of Maggie at On the Hoof, Caroline Cowley and her dad Chris Baker I gradually put some of the dressage rider to bed and learned to consider aspects not required in the dressage arena.

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Kitten’s Got Talent [29 June 2009 at 08:45]

This is not me blowing my own trumpet. I am not referring to my skills on the ukulele, or in the karaoke bar. I am referring to the SuBo-style emotional breakdown I flirted with all weekend during a series of giddy highs and scream-inducing lows…

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Lather, rinse and repeat [25 June 2009 at 23:46]

I am just back from a decent run round Hyde Park. Googlemaps says 10kms, which feels about right. The sun was still out and strong so I worked up a good sweat and thoroughly enjoyed having no watch on, no train to catch, nowhere specific to be…

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Data monkey HQ [22 June 2009 at 19:23]

I am currently up to my eyeballs in Def14As (don’t ask!) but have managed to squeezing in four different rides since my last update. I also had my first personal training session with Bruno (ouch!) and found out that my belief that you don’t get a handover after drinking Jack Daniels was wildly inaccurate.

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The missing kilo [18 June 2009 at 18:29]

I have lost a kilo. It’s been gone for over a week now. If this were a household item, such as a sink plug, favourite sock, or something else I habitually lose, I would not be confident about ever seeing it again. Kilos are different. Nevertheless, Bruno the personal trainer will be delighted. Although possibly less so if I explain how I have lost it.

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Your ego’s writing cheques your body can’t cash! [15 June 2009 at 17:37]

It’s Monday morning and I have landed in a heap at my desk again, though the feeling of crash landing is happening earlier and earlier with each passing week. Over the course of the weekend I have laid waste to my parents’ house in my quest to squeeze every minute of Derby training from the time I had. Here’s a quick inventory, to add to my working week of Monday circuits, Tuesday x-train and weights and 9pm ride on Tucker, Wednesday 6am ride, Thursday running sprint intervals and weights. Zzzzz….

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The ministry of funny walks [10 June 2009 at 13:17]

People are starting to stare. As I thundered over Hungerford Bridge to Waterloo last night for another riding double whammy in the Shire, people seemed to be giving me a wide berth, and literally slowing to watch me stride past. No, it was not a good hair day.

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10 weeks to go [7 June 2009 at 22:37]

It’s been a decent first week’s Derby training. In a flurry of adrenaline i went to the gym TWO DAYS RUNNING in my lunch hour at work. This is another military-style operation which involves a series of calculations of the sort “how sweaty am i going to get/ how many more minutes can i keep this up/ when will colleagues notice i am awol/ what chance of seeing Carlos the fantasy spinning instructor if i just loiter by this here weights stack a little longer?”.

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Once more into the breeches [4 June 2009 at 23:01]

The weekend saw my competitive re-debut in the dressage arena on Tucker, after five years in the equestrian wilderness. Not exactly Derby training, but in a way it’s working out well as i am compelled to get out of bed at strange hours of the morning and ride. Getting into a good working routine which goes something like this….

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To support Katy visit: www.justgiving.com/katywillings/