After all of the recent competing and training it was back home again to sunny Cornwall (literally) to work on improving fitness for all three horses. Fantom had a couple of days off after his weekend away and then it was back to work.
At the squad assessment, tests had shown that Fantom’s fitness was going to be improved by interval training and some general hill work rather than work on the track. Actually I am rather glad about this as we both enjoy these sessions far more than cantering on the flat for several kilometres at a time.
To this end, I duly headed off to the sand dunes for a session on the ‘dunes from hell’ path. This is a long, long path which climbs up steeply from the beach in fairly deep, dry sand. Three of these is enough, followed by a long canter over undulating dunes back to the tracks home. This session was not totally straightforward, as we had many dog walkers, holiday makers and the local riding stables wobbling their way along the path, so strategic planning was called for to avoid all of these hazards.
The next session was back to the cross-country fields to make use of a couple of hills there and one longish slow hill. For the first 10km it was all routine training with Fantom smoothly changing legs around the corners and speeding up and slowing down as required but then he started to get faster and faster and in the end I cut the session short to avoid a pitched battle. I have plans to take him up to Dartmoor at the weekend to see what he makes of those hills!
Dilmun had been ticking over with regular but not too strenuous training sessions, including lunge work on the Pessoa and occasional sessions of the much-hated schooling. However, the time had come to up the fitness as part of his preparation for an inter-regional competition in a few week’s time. This is a hotly-contested competition between the endurance groups around the country with teams made up of riders and horses at all levels. Dilmun and I have been nominated to compete in the 80km race ride.
This year the inter-regionals will take place at Cirencester Park, a venue I’ve been to several times in the past. It is flat, generally quite fast, often rather warm and always with the accompaniment of flies of helicopter proportions.
To prepare for this, I entered Dilmun for the Boconnic estate ride, only a 45 minute drive from here. The plan was to do a 40km ride and the idea was to prepare for the race ride by going faster.
Well, the heat of the weekend was a game changer. Dilmun did his best and was quite enthusiastic but, being a slightly heavier and hairier type of Arab, the heat got to him a bit. However, he completed well within the veterinary parameters and recovered quickly. I really hope it isn’t so hot at the inter-regionals! Now for a few days off to recover from his exertions and already he is asserting his dominance of the ‘herd’.
The following day, it was Chiara’s turn. Another scorching day; in fact even warmer! The original plan was to go a little faster than normal in preparation for her first one-star competition in a couple of week’s time. However, as with Dilmun, plans had to change to accommodate the current heat wave (yes, a heat wave in Cornwall!).
Chiara had no problems with the heat at all, keeping up a cheerful rhythm all the way round. She was so good in picking up her effortless canter which she will need for future race rides, and then coming back almost to walk over areas of rough, stony ground. At the finish, her pulse was already down to 60bpm and when we presented her to the vets it had dropped to 40 — what a little star!
Chiara’s entry is in for her first international competition; a one-star at the wonderful King’s Forest in Norfolk in two week’s time — exciting.