Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: be careful what you wish for

“Thank god it’s raining, my poor mud was getting dehydrated…” — this was one quote from an endurance rider after a recent cold, dry spell. Be careful what you wish for.

I am really lucky, I know; I have four wonderful horses, three of which are not in the first flush of youth, but they are all sound, happy and raring to go. I can do so much with them and next year they will each have their moment in the sun. I have decided to do as much as I possibly can endurance-wise and otherwise, while I can and while I want to. I have been doing endurance for 20 years now and I still love the thrill and challenge of competition as well as the dark mornings mucking out, plodding around doing the walking work in the rain and generally spending time with my beloved equines.

My husband and I went to the Horse & Hound Awards evening at Cheltenham Racecourse. It was another glamourous occasion and another dress for me! The evening was a whirlwind of fun and excitement, filled with the great and the good of the horse world. We enjoyed the champagne, the celebrity spotting, the great company over dinner with the wonderful food and dancing the night away to The Chip Shop Boys. Thank you Horse & Hound for inviting me.

My husband and I at the Horse & Hound awards

Back to the ‘real horse life’ with the accompanying mud, rain and wind that seem to endlessly revolve around Cornwall. The ‘empty’ Cornwall, which comes with winter, is in many ways preferable to the summer Cornwall with all the Emmets (holidaymakers). This is now my kingdom and I can train in peace on the beach and through the sand dunes and the lanes are quiet with very few cars, no caravans and only the odd surfboard.

Last weekend was the annual Christmas fun ride put on by the south west group of EGB. We were lucky enough to get our entry accepted for this always over-subscribed ride and made sure that the ‘chosen ones’ were free from mud with clean tack and sufficient Christmas adornment. It was the ancient Wizard and Chiara’s lucky day. Wizard had Katherine (a good friend of his) and Chi (pictured top) had to put up with me riding.

This year the ramp of the trailer opened readily, and Wizard pulled Robert up the ramp in his desperate bid not to be left behind!

Wizard was so happy to be out and about and looked as though he enjoyed every second of it. We rode slowly around the 16km course, mainly in walk, but had the odd fun canter through the park where Wizard could be seen with a look of utter determination on his face that he wouldn’t let Chiara get too far ahead.

For the next couple of months, Chiara will concentrate on schooling and a little fun jumping. Nothing competitive here, you understand, just playing around in the school and building a little base fitness with a little hill work. Wizard has been promised another outing in February before he signs off again for his summer season in the field.

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I was, and still am, concerned by my own lack of fitness and the willpower simply isn’t there, but I am so lucky to have a solution: I have a new sponsor in the form of RiderCise (Clare), who promises that she will turn my slightly overweight, lazy body into an athletic specimen of humanity in a programme designed to enable me to “feel no stiffness after completing a 160km race” and failure is not an option! I start on the programme in February so will keep you posted on my progression from zero to hero.

Plans for next year and learning lessons from the failures of this year, of which there were too many, are beginning to take shape but first, very importantly, I have a little skiing holiday in the New Year and this is before the RiderCise programme kicks in!

Annie

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