Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: back to reality

  • Well it’s back to reality for me. I am I sitting here writing this blog with a howling gale and driving rain lashing the windows of my office. I have heard though that it has been mild and mostly dry while I have been away playing in the snow, and the prolific show of crocuses and the odd daffodil give testament to this.

    Before leaving for my holiday, Chiara and Fantom had completed their endless walking work and had started short spells of trotting, mostly on the road. Dilmun and Wizard were fit enough to do a steady 16km ride with hills, so everything was pretty much on track.

    I am very excited to say that my stables have a new roof! Yes, I know a roof isn’t necessarily something most people get excited about, but it had sprung so many leaks and now my stables area is transformed into a light and airy space. To my amazement, the husband had prioritised the stables roof over a new window we need in the house.

    My new stable roof

    In the meantime, while on holiday, I begun work on my own fitness which has been sadly neglected since November. Being somewhat anxious as to how skiing would work with reduced feeling in one leg, I embarked on a series of squats, lunges and leg stretches every morning before heading to the piste. Skiing definitely shows up any one-sidedness in a person; a horse can be forgiving of any imbalance but skis are definitely not!

    Skiing is a really good preparation for endurance riding; in fact any sort of riding where the weight needs to be taken out of the saddle periodically. Many muscles used in the legs are the same in both activities and altitude training can give a wonderful cardio vascular workout. The ridiculously low temperatures we experienced (down to -19 degrees on the peaks), make sure to test out the thermals and burn up the calories in shivering. However, the downside of the holiday was that I tended to live on chips and chocolate on the piste and my husband, in an effort to be healthy, devised a special treat by dipping a low calorie cereal bar into the cream on top of the chocolate. I now have work to do to shed those extra pounds!

    My ski speed run

    Skiing is a motivator; an inspiration that you can do anything you want, that’s before the face plant brings you slap bang back to reality, but it was lucky I wasn’t carrying a hip flask (a patriotic one of course) as the blackberry liqueur would not look so good on my snowy white ski ensemble. Another downside is that writing orders while skiing takes multi-tasking to a whole new level.

    On my return, three out of four horses have transformed into raving lunatics (Dilmun is the goody goody!). It is quite difficult for me to work on the fitness of all four horses so everything has to be scheduled in with care making the most of ride and lead, lunge and school sessions; all essential to be time-efficient.

    Chi leaving the scene

    Chiara is proving to be extremely difficult to manage with the non-riding fitness campaign. She is difficult when being led as she is determined to be in the lead, which is exacerbated by trotting. Her lungeing work in the school was coming on nicely before I went away but now she has turned into a feet-flying lunatic with only rare glimpses of proper work. I really cannot wait for her new saddle to be fitted and I can continue her training under saddle.

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    Fantom is equally challenging with his pogo-ing and butterfly-like leaps but at least I can ride him and have begun some schooling at last.

    We are planning to go to a local pleasure ride in a couple of weeks’ time. I will ride Fantom and a friend will take the ancient Wizard who simply can’t wait to get out and about after having pulled my arms out now for weeks! I have plans for polework clinics, more low distance pleasure rides and sessions a bit later on the gallops — bring it on!


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