It has now been two weeks since I sat on a horse. Talk about withdrawal symptoms, I am almost twitching. This is because it’s rest time for the horses. My winter plans include a five week break (expedition to Antarctica) during January and some of February which means that the rest breaks for the horses in some cases, of necessity is rather long and in the case of Chiara she will have two shorter ones.
Chiara is now on a two months’ break with six weeks to go before coming back into work for general conditioning and in particular schooling. There are several aspects of her work that need improving. One particular target will be working on her stiff side; her right side, especially right canter which she is always reluctant to strike off on her own accord. It is important that when competing she changes lead regularly and particularly useful if it becomes automatic for her without me having to nag her all the time.
Poor Fantom has now had four weeks off and is still charging around (pictured top) desperate to do more. Unfortunately, as there will be no more endurance for him to do this season, he will be let down too, probably not being brought back into work until February.
Dilmun has now been roughed off and boy does he look rough! He already has a well-developed winter coat and the state of his once-beautiful mane has me in despair; full of mud, twigs and burrs. It is quite a job to keep it tangle-free but the worst bit is that he has rubbed some of it so even when clean it looks a mess. Plans are still a little uncertain regarding Dilmun’s work starting as I have to balance exercising four horses with work, home and family, so a staggered start will be necessary.
The mighty Wizard’s time is coming. This chap is now 22 and is taking life more easily. He used to do endurance of up to 100km and, although he had the speed and conformation for it, he was never really prepared to dig deep and would call it quits when he felt tired. He is, however, a lovely chap, very kind, very easy and a really pleasant, well balanced ride. During the summer he has his shoes off and just chills but in the autumn and early winter he comes back into work for light hacking and a little dressage with the occasional pleasure ride thrown in.
It is only September and the leaves are falling, falling, falling and there is a feel of winter in the air. This has triggered a ‘nesting’ response in me; a need to make sure I have everything necessary for the cold weather. To this end I have been buying tools, a grim looking new wheelbarrow, a broom and a pair of wellies! All boring, mundane stuff you might say, but where do you get size six wellies in Cornwall? I have tried all the usual places and there is a huge variety of stock with wellies in all shapes and sizes except for SIZE SIX! The only conclusion I can draw from this is that, everyone who works with horses in Cornwall has size six feet! My new wellies then are pink and blue and look totally impractical. I just hope this is a ‘fake’ autumn and summer will return next week with the return of size sixes too!
Back to the current endurance season which is not over yet. Our young rider, Kate Atkinson, has now left for her long journey to Verona in Italy for the World Young Rider Endurance Championships. Unlike the seniors, the course is run over 120km but the competition is just as fierce. This year unfortunately we were unable to field a team and Kate will ride as an individual in what, I believe, will be her last year of young riders. I wish you all the luck in the world, Kate!
The Endurance GB national championships is looming. This is to be held in Wales in just under two weeks’ time, and for the first time offers championships at all levels for which riders have qualified throughout the year. It looks like a pretty good entry and I am sad to have to miss this but there’s always next year.