Chiara is now on a three-week break whereby she enjoys her time in the field with regular grooming and pampering in the form of massages and physio.

One serious issue came to light at Windsor which was that neither her numnah nor her girth was doing her any favours with rubs in strategic places. This is not as easily rectified as it might seem; everything will now have to be checked, the saddle refitted, new numnahs (pure orthopaedic wool, of course) and establishing why her very expensive girth rubs and what the solution would be. She is so fine skinned that perfection is really the only option and these issues only show up after she has covered a considerable distance.

Pretty Chi at Windsor

Last weekend I helped at the iconic Golden Horseshoe ride on Exmoor. This time last year, I was at the same place but the difference was immeasurable. The biggest factor to cause this difference was the weather (pictured top in the rain in 2015). Last year was typical ‘Horseshoe weather’; rain and wind and not very warm. But this year it was like being on another planet with warm sunshine and a light breeze, perfect conditions for endurance.

The largely dry weather leading up to the event meant that the going on Exmoor, often really difficult, wet and deep; was pretty much as good as you can get, resulting in several of the coveted ‘Golds’ being awarded in both the main 160km Horseshoe class and the 120km Exmoor Stag class.

For me this weekend was a chance to give a little back to our sport and do what many of us endurance riders do; volunteer to help the busy, overworked organisers. Actually it was fun! I got to do car parking (again), help with the very large pleasure ride class and actually judge for an award as well as covering the Facebook feed. It was almost a holiday with the aroma of sunscreen prevailing over the usual smell of eau de horse!

The tort-up at the Golden Horseshoe

With being away three weekends in a row, the washing builds up and the heap on the chair gets correspondingly deeper; you know when you have a pile of clothes which you’ve worn perhaps an hour and then needed to change for a different task. These clothes, while not really dirty enough to warrant a trip to the washing machine, are not clean enough to return to the depths of the wardrobe or over-stuffed chest of drawers. This is something I have always struggled with and, as I look at the heap of clothes on my chair, I am beginning to wish that I could just stick to one colour scheme because none of these items can be worn with another one: orange is the competition colour, grey is my sponsor’s colour, red and navy some of my favourite Team GBR kit and deep pink which is my best colour (yes, I have had my colours done, darling!): decisions…

A competitor at this year’s Golden Horseshoe in the sun

Today I was a little short of time and decided to take Dilmun and Fantom out together, riding Dilmun and leading Fantom. About a mile or so from home I had an incident with a horse lorry. These are very narrow, very quiet Cornish lanes and this lorry drove to within a metre of us, tailgating us down the very steep lane even though they could see I was going to pull into a driveway some 20 metres away. We shot in sideways while said lorry roared past hooting and this was a HORSE lorry. What is wrong with people?

Training has now focussed on Fantom in an effort to improve his strength and fitness which, despite his successful completion of a 40km ride, still leaves ongoing work if we are to contest a one-star towards the end of June. This competition in Norfolk is intended to be in part a test to see if he has overcome his ‘tying up’ problem and partly to just enjoy for its own sake and be competitive. I have now added an ulcer remedy to his diet as it is probably the only thing I haven’t done as a tying up prevention. He does, however, appear to be having a little ‘down’ patch at the moment and has reverted to his ‘super slug’ status and training sessions are a bit of an effort. However, it is extremely hot and humid here in the far west and I am hoping this is just due to the weather.

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The dry weather has transformed daily life at Watergate Endurance mainly because there is no mud! However, instead of the obligatory mucking out of stables and field shelters, poo picking is now one of the largest tasks. I had a pleasant surprise this evening when I found that the ‘poo fairy’ had been and miraculously transformed one of my paddock areas into an almost manicured lawn (well, perhaps not quite manicured, but certainly an improvement): thank you Emily (Wiz’s jockey).

Annie

For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

In this week’s edition, out on 24 May, don’t miss our “cob special”, including how to find the perfect cob, meet champion cob Our Cashel Blue and more.