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Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: rats, tantrums and aliens

Operation ‘reduce Annie’s size’ is now well underway and the extra soft bits have started to come off. This has been helped by my son doing his usual regular shop in our fridge, and this time he has excelled himself and now has acquired a cool bag to ensure that the ‘goodies’ are nice and fresh for him to eat from for the next few days; Mondays for us are rather lean! Work has also commenced on the treadmill, at the moment in walk up and down the ‘hills’. It is so boring, but I have heard of an app that can transport you into a different and more stimulating environment — I just have to remember its name!

I think that I’m becoming a wimp. Last week there was a day of absolutely torrential hail and rain showers and I caught one as I was finishing mucking out. I whined pathetically to my husband that I was ‘trapped at the stables’. Obviously, if I had really wanted to, I could have given my tack a much-overdue clean!

The dilemma of cleaning tack or cleaning out the tack room has been resolved for me. While I was sunning myself in the Alps, Roland Rat moved into the tack room. This, he did in fine style, making himself a comfortable nest among the rugs and transporting the delicious Feedmark Herbalicious treats to his lair. A first sight of him left me shrieking (I’m such a wuss), but to my mortification, the crew dog, who was just around the corner, did not come to my aid. Calm has now been restored as the tack room is immaculate and Rowland’s access hole has been blocked up. How he stole the horses’ treats from another area and removed them to his lair is still a mystery, but I really hope he can find a new home somewhere else. I have subsequently learned that Rowland is a rare black rat; trust me to have a rare breed as a lodger!

Time for work!

Little Chiara has now started her pole work. The first attempt to get any serious work done was on the lunge. Now Chiara is well-versed in being lunged and really does know the ropes, but a Chiara tantrum set in when she decided that my new poles looked like an alien’s tentacles. It took me many minutes to persuade her that these new WHITE poles are just the same as the old wooden ones, but more Annie-friendly (they weigh about a tenth of the wooden ones).

The next step was ridden schooling over the poles. Chiara (pictured top) is now more amenable in walk and trot and the transitions are improving all the time, as is the leg-yielding and halting. Under saddle these alien monsters posed no problem at all and I think we had an epiphany moment trotting over both types of pole — I don’t think they are regarded as enemies anymore!

Meanwhile, the all-round conditioning work is continuing with a little cardiovascular work up the hills (still gently). I am a firm believer that conditioning and fitness work needs to be done so gradually, and I draw up schedules for each horse so that I can work backwards from each major landmark competition to ensure that I get the quality work in that is needed at the right time.

Fantom says my turn!

Getting on to the landmark competitions: I fear my major plans might have changed somewhat. I still intend this year to qualify Chiara for the Europeans in 2021, but my route to that desired outcome has been altered. My goal is to complete two 160km three-star races this season and the first one will now be at King’s Forest in June, so my training for Chiara will take this into account.

Continued below…



My training plans for Chiara this year will involve more little outings, not so much for fitness but to get her so used to travelling and quietly competing with other horses that excitement doesn’t take over as much. Next weekend we have another one of those quiet pleasure rides in the company of the ancient Wizard.

My dreaded job has now come to the fore: clipping. Fantom has had his shoes put on and the need to transform his disgustingly muddy, hairy body into something that is suitable to do some work has become a bit of a priority. Additionally, Wizard needs a trim for his planned outing next weekend and Chiara’s hair removal is an ongoing mission. Probably best to get all these things done in one go and thank my lucky stars that Dilmun isn’t in work at the moment!

Annie

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