Well, I went for it: Fantom now has shoes and walking work has commenced. This means that I have three horses to ride each day which is, of course, a pleasure especially on the lovely sunny autumn days. However, running your own business from home, although potentially giving me freedom to ride in the day, does have its downsides. The chief one of these is that I have to be always contactable and this means that I have to answer my mobile phone wherever and whenever it might ring. Chiara, who lives life in the fast lane, is beginning to learn that the joyful ring of Captain Pugwash is a signal to stop dead and, if she is really lucky and I have to write something, she may, just might be able to snatch at something particularly juicy in the hedge. It is, of course, really important that I hear Captain Pugwash before she does to avoid risking being ejected unceremoniously out of the front door!
In my wisdom I decided that in order to cut down the amount of time involved in day after day of walking work with the horses, as Wizard and Chiara had started at the same time, riding and leading would be an excellent solution. However, I think I had under-estimated the horses’ enthusiasm and what was supposed to be a steady walk around the lanes and tracks fast deteriorated into a walking race, each horse trying to outdo the other with much bickering and face-pulling along the way. A major rethink was clearly required and reluctantly I had to give up on that idea with those two and ride each one individually.
After three days of manic ‘crash’ dieting (yeah I know it’s bad for you and won’t stay off), I have managed to shed 3kg mostly from my middle area in spectacular fashion: an average of 1kg a day. Although in a weakened state, I managed to carry on as usual and will now reap the benefits in the shape of a sleek, slinky dress for the Endurance GB AGM: the things we women do for vanity! There is another upside of this though, I was a good 4kg above my racing snake weight and have now gone a good way to preparing myself for next season which, starting in March, isn’t so very far off.
Rider weight is a hot topic with new weight rules proposed by the FEI to be voted on in their general assembly on 21 November. There is much heated debate about this with many national federations fearing that imposing a minimum weight of 75kg on distances of 120km and above, will result in many lighter riders carrying too much dead weight. While this doesn’t really affect me personally, I do feel for some of the lighter people on the circuit and wonder whether imposing a relatively high minimum weight for the 120km distance would really have the desired effect of reducing speeds.
Chiara and Wizard have now moved up a gear and spells of trotting have been introduced which has the spin off benefit in that schooling has become a little more interesting. While Chiara is still working mainly in walk, at least Wizard can now practice some walk, trot, walk transitions to try to improve the old chap’s balance and remind him that I am still on board, something he tends to forget at times. I have introduced some work in walk with poles on the ground for both of them to practice moving in straight lines and, in Chiara’s case, take her mind off the possibility to do her straight lines as fast as possible.
I have just been to our local endurance group’s annual awards dinner and discovered that I have been voted onto the local committee. Obviously this will mean more work of the horsey kind but at least most of this can be done in the evenings. Dilmun, to my surprise and pleasure, scooped the runner up prize in the best veteran horse award (pictured top with his rosette) so it was an evening of smiles all round!