Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: a close encounter

  • The horses’ training has been disrupted with the high winds and driving rain we have periodically experienced in the past couple of weeks. Luckily Cornwall is virtually snow-free and generally above freezing so some degree of work can continue.

    Unfortunately my school has developed a bit of a pond down one end which has hampered progress with Chiara’s schooling, but I have now just started to improve her canter transitions by using strategically placed poles in the corners of the part of the school I can use. This has been marginally successful as she does strike off when required but a lot of work needs to be done here.

    Interestingly, when I complain at home about being unable to ride, my family just laugh. They cannot understand that I HAVE TO RIDE EVERY DAY and if I have to miss a day or perhaps only ride one of the horses, I get really grumpy!

    In order to prepare the horses for their outing next weekend, a little cantering was in order. I took the ancient Wizard for a little jolly in the stubble fields close to the stables and, after having hacked him gently for 30 minutes or so to warm up the old joints and muscles, we duly arrived at the bottom of the first field.

    Wiz going for it

    I should explain that the planned outing, a Christmas ride of about 16km, involves a lovely gallop through the park and to this end, I was preparing Wiz for this bit of fun as he was to take one of my good friends around. Jo, if you are reading this just miss the next bit! Wizard had always had a few small bucks in him which, to do him credit, he has improved in size and dexterity with practice over the years and today he did his best yet! You’ve got to love the old chap, he might be a little stiff for circles in the school but he is feeling so good and full of joie de vivre and he still makes me smile every time I ride him.

    I have had a couple of attempts at taking Chiara, my mount for this outing, to the stubble fields for her canter. The first attempt was on a wild and windy day and I reluctantly decided that discretion was the better part of valour in this instance.

    Crew dog, Kira after three training sessions

    Next time, a lovely day, I schooled Chiara a little and couldn’t believe how good she was being, even on the straight line bits! Then off we went for a little hack before approaching the stubble fields on the way home. Or so we thought… However, with very little warning we managed to meet the local hunt. Now hunting is something I used to do occasionally and usually have a pretty good time, but INVOLUNTARY hunting is not really on my agenda! After some nail-biting moments and evasive action, we managed to canter sideways most of the way home.

    Today I was victorious; even though it was cold and windy I decided to build on the schooling (obedience lessons!) and take Chiara for the long overdue canter session in the stubble. She behaved perfectly and enjoyed a steady, bouncy canter with a semblance of balance and control. Maybe we’re winning…?

    Continued below…

    Fantom has yet to have his first canter session and is still building up his trot work with a little schooling. He is looking and feeling amazing, if a little hairy, so everything is on track with him. I am a bit restricted in the amount of faster work I can do with them as I really only wanted to give them a low clip (a drip strip) as they will have five weeks of inactivity soon and need their winter fluff.

    Right, I’m off to do some Christmas shopping, not for humans but for the horses of course. Pretty gold and silver glitter, tinsel and Santa hats; I’ve already got the turkey to put on my head. Yes, this is for the Christmas ride at the weekend!

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