This time of year is a time of reflection, a glance back over the previous year to see what worked and what didn’t and develop new initiatives and improvements necessary to have an even better 2018. On this basis, the beginnings of a plan; a work and competition schedule for each horse can be developed. As I said in my last blog, 2017 was quite a good year with one noticeable blip which created a large problem needing an effective solution.

With the conditioning work and schooling that Fantom and Chiara have been doing, we have been working to improve the horses’ way of going and doing the base work necessary to minimise the chances of injury.

However, on my return from my ‘great adventure’ to Antartica, Dilmun will have to be brought back into work with many weeks of walking while the other two will do progressive fitness training with a few fun things thrown in.

My new tack room clock

Yes, we decided to do a New Year party again and this time in the barn. To say this was a little adventurous was probably an accurate statement. The wind blew and the rain periodically lashed the gazebos lining the open side of the barn. We were a little cold despite a barbecue and a couple of fire pits, but dancing kept us warm leading up the turn of the year when the dancing became more vigorous!

It isn’t often that I am at the stable yard at midnight so it was fascinating to compare what the two stabled horses do at night to the two who are free to roam in the field or stay in the field shelter. It was quite an eye-opener. There were a few distant bangs and lights from fireworks but nothing close by and we did have music and dancing in the barn, but I have to say that the difference in attitude was quite marked.

Chiara and Fantom, the two free range ones, were completely chilled occasionally popping into the field shelter for a bit of haylage but spent most of the time just mooching around and grazing. Poor old Wizard and Dilmun by contrast were tense and staring into the distance with the occasional snatch of haylage. I think that I shall now endeavour to keep Dilmun and Wizard out in the field more, extreme weather and mud fever permitting.

Wiz and Dil restless at night

That being said, I wimped out the other night although the temperature was relatively high, the wind speed was forecast for over 70mph with heavy showers. It’s not an easy decision to make on a day to day basis but I reckon this generally works for me.

Cornwall has been battered by storms for the past few days with frequent power cuts. While power cuts are not generally a problem, it does mean that without electricity we have no water whatsoever and I can feel a little purchase of a generator coming on to at least man the water pumps.

We just took the dog for a walk on the beach (training ground) at Perranporth and were quite stunned at seeing what the high tides had done to the rather famous Watering Hole. I believe four years of sand build up had been washed away last night leaving this landmark vulnerable to the next high tide tonight. Thank goodness we are a couple of miles inland!

Watering Hole between the storms

On Saturday we are off on our great adventure for five weeks! The call of the wild has beckoned for a long time and you can’t get more remote than the Antarctic, especially sailing (and crewing) a three-masted tall ship. I have to say I am a little nervous of sailing the Southern Oceans around Cape Horn but am so excited at the prospect of seeing the wildlife on the Antarctic Peninsula. I feel this trip could be a different type of endurance!

Our ship in Antartica

The all important plans for 2018 are in the making although, knowing horses, these can be a little fluid. However, the general idea is to design a programme for Chiara to progress through the FEI star system and to contest her first two-star in April with, fingers crossed (and everything else) the all important 160km three-star in July.

Continued below…

With Fantom I must admit I keep changing my mind; perhaps an early three-star as a WEG (World Equestrian Games) qualification or maybe one mid-summer and a crack at the national championships later in the year.

With the basic conditioning work largely under our belts, I feel I can keep my options open at the moment. Whatever I decide, fitness work on three of them starts in absolute earnest in six weeks’ time.
Annie