My voyage to Antarctica was, as expected, totalling amazing. Ice, whales, penguins, wild seas, albatrosses, icebergs, snow, Cape Horn (pictured above); just wow!
On my return to Cornwall I could not believe how wet and muddy it is. The Antarctic Summer (at least at the edge) has a lot going for it. Okay, it did rain and snow and the very sudden winds came from the South Pole and were bone-chilling, but we saw the sun most days. I didn’t feel cold or wet (yes I did wear three thermal layers, two fleeces, one ski jacket and a sailing coat). I have been reliably informed that it rained every day in Cornwall since I left six weeks ago!
Now to the stars of the blog — they are feral, filthy, fat and furry but they are also healthy and happy horses. You can worry so much about leaving your beloved horses while you go on holiday and six weeks is a long time, but THEY DID NOT DIE! It has, however, now left me with rather a lot of work to do to get them competition fit.
Firstly to tackle the mud and hair. Fantom has now been successfully, if not beautifully, scalped and after strategic washing, looks almost presentable. The same cannot be said of Chiara who determinedly resists any attempt to reduce her level of hair. For some reason known only to her, she cannot abide trimmers or even scissors under her jaw line although she is perfectly happy to accept brushing and stroking. Well, tomorrow is the day for the hair assault and I am thinking that just maybe if I use WARM SCISSORS I might be successful…
Today was a bit of a tidy up day, sweeping out the tack room, washing boots and towels which was quite a pleasant relaxing job until I saw my bridles… how did they get so dirty? No, they haven’t been used which means I must have left them like that! Joy oh joy, a tack cleaning session was a must and thank goodness they now look ready to rock and roll.
How can so much have happened in the endurance world in the six weeks I have been away? This is, after all, the ‘off’ season. I missed a fantastic seminar on international performance and welfare headlined by Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare. Endurance GB has announced a new scholarship scheme for young riders and juniors to encourage them to progress through the grades which will hopefully result in many more young riders being available for squad selection in the future. The EGB initiatives are coming in thick and fast with benefits for all of its members.
One slightly unfortunate thing though with being out of the loop is that I missed the deadline to express my interest in being considered for WEG (World Equestrian Games) this year. Another slight downside from my expedition is that I managed to pick up an injury when I jumped off a rock to avoid some penguin poo and aggravated an old injury. Physio starts this week and I am confident that I can recommence my own fitness training in a couple of week’s time. However, this has meant that I have had to put back competition schedules for all the horses by about a month with the first international competition now probably being at Royal Windsor in May.
There is another seminar on welfare to be held at the British Racing School in Newmarket coming up shortly with some really good guest speakers. Newmarket is, of course, the other side of the country to me so the logistics of attending this will mean three days away, something I’m not sure I can manage at this time.
Since my return, both Fantom and Chiara have done a week’s walking with a little trotting and both are extremely keen to do more. Next week will involve upping the trotting slightly and reinforcing some of the schooling they did at the beginning of the year. I had expected the ancient Wizard to be ridden a bit in my absence but sadly this was not the case and I will have to scout around for a jockey for him to keep him happy. Dilmun is like a polar bear; fat and hairy and extremely dirty. Tomorrow his shoes go back on and he will gradually make a return to work.
I have to confess that since returning from Antarctica, I have enjoyed keeping up with the Winter Olympics and in particular following Lizzy Yarnold’s fantastic success through the eyes of her mother, a dedicated endurance rider. Much respect, Lizzy!
I think being away for quite a long spell has helped concentrate my mind and reinforce the goals I have set for myself and my horses. There is nothing like stepping back a little to put things into perspective.
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