I cannot believe that Christmas is almost upon us and this is my last blog of the year. Is the Joppe household ready for the festivities, the feasts, the guests and the insane panic when you receive a Christmas card just before Christmas from someone you haven’t sent one to? Not a chance! I do, however, have an advent calendar for the horses and, thanks to my amazing sponsors, some wonderful Herbalicious treats which I am afraid have already been started on.
Well, Wizard and Chiara have at last had their Christmas outing. I spent ages scrubbing and whitening Wizard the night before but Chiara, of course, spent her night in the field and presented herself at first light as a liberally-coated mud babe. Naturally I couldn’t allow her to keep this image and fortunately her natural colour is akin to some types of mud (unfortunately not mine), so the elbow grease required was not quite as much as I first thought.
We duly arrived at the Lanhyrock Estate near Bodmin and met up with Jo who was to ride Wiz (despite reading about his bucking practice in training). Decorations of some description are a must and I was hugely disappointed that I couldn’t get the turkey to stretch over my riding hat so had to wear a Father Christmas hat instead. Chiara was not too keen on having tinsel draped over her but Wiz made up for this with a brightly coloured garland tied to his breastplate.
Off we went and it soon became apparent that all my hard work scrubbing and cleaning would have no visible effect after about five minutes. It had rained and rained over the past few weeks and the going was in part deep mud which rapidly turned the snow white Wizard into a two tone horse; although Chiara looked exactly the same (the right coloured mud!).
We did have a lot of fun though as the going was still good enough for a whoopee through the park which both horses and both riders thoroughly enjoyed. There was just one thing, one little thing that marred the almost perfect behaviour of the horses throughout the whole ride. As this was a Christmas ride there were two chocolate pit stops en-route where tins of chocolate were passed to the rider to choose their favourite ones. Naturally I dipped straight into the tin to get a purple one, ignoring Jo who was kindly offering to eat mine for me. What I didn’t realise was that Wizard was eyeing them up too. At the second tin disaster struck! Wizard, who had obviously been plotting this, stuck his great grey nose into the tin upending it and scattering the chocolates in the mud (luckily they were wrapped); so embarrassing!
Conditioning work has now resumed with Fantom stepping up to canter transitions in the school. Chiara will continue to do a variety of exercises and training over the next couple of weeks (NOT on Christmas Day!) and I am hoping to have a jockey for Wizard for a little ‘escort the ponies’ duty.
I guess now is the time to look back over the 2017 endurance season and in particular how it was for Watergate Endurance. Apart from one occasion, the most important of the season, it has been a seamless year with one good performance flowing into another and my wonderful horses performing well and giving their best so generously.
My highlight, of course, must be Royal Windsor where Fantom came third in the one-star and we got to meet The Queen who generously spared the time to listen to my burbling and even replied occasionally! Dilmun successfully completed his final one-day race ride in fourth place and Chiara completed two one-stars with aplomb, gaining fifth in the best condition in a hotly-contested one-star at Euston Park.
Annie has been battling the elements to get her horses fit for an upcoming ride
Wizard, of course, was just Wizard happily cantering along (he wishes) through life and enjoying his moments in the sun.
Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone; endurance is a fantastic sport for everyone whatever your ambitions!