Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: an emergency operation has scuppered my plans

  • Well, plan A has gone out of the window! I was meant to have contested the CEI3* at King’s Forest at the weekend with the wonderful Chiara, but have had a partly unexpected setback.

    What has happened to Chiara, you might think. Nothing, she is training well and was ready for her first three-star.

    You may recall that I suffered an injury in Antarctica jumping off a rock. Yes, I knew I had done something to my back/leg but it seemed to be manageable and the training sessions appeared to be going OK but with some weakness down my left leg. Eventually I had a scan and the wonderful NHS is whisking me away to have an operation next week. So quick, I’m impressed, but I now have to zoom around readjusting my plans and doing the jobs that I should have done last week. I am told it is straightforward; an in and out job, so I will be back riding the next day, right? Realistically it may be a little longer. I wish I hadn’t jumped off that rock now, the alternative of stepping in penguin poo looks, in retrospect, positively alluring despite the smell that seems to cling forever.

    Luckily I have a plan B which is a bit complicated but would allow Chiara a go at a three-star this year and possibly the second two-star she needs for championship qualification and Fantom a go at the national championships.

    Grumpy Chi submitting to schooling

    I even have a plan C whereby Chiara achieves her second two-star qualifications this year and completes her three-star early next year, preferably at a UK ride. Plan D would be too bad to contemplate at this stage.

    Well those are the plans, now what to do about the rock hard ground hampering the best training efforts and forcing a decision of whether to run or not to run at the moment?

    I would have had no worries about running at King’s as the Norfolk going is sandy for the most part. Training is not so problematical for me although a little less varied; it is beach or sandy daffodil field with the possibility of interval training in the dunes.

    However, the local cross-country course is now out of the question, as are any of the farmers’ fields which haven’t got crops growing. Another issue with the hot, dry weather is the horseflies. Has anyone noticed that they seem much bigger and more prolific this year? We have horseflies the size of helicopters with the blood-sucking abilities of vampire bats on a feast day.

    Since my last blog, I have had a number of messages advising me of feeds for Fantom to try to attempt to combat his proclivity for tying up: thank you guys! My sponsors, Feedmark, spoke to me at length regarding feeding and supplementation and I now have a strategy.


    If plan B comes into effect, Fantom will do a longer graded ride before attempting the national championships in Wales at the beginning of October. This is a two-day 160km race over the mountains of mid-Wales and can be either magical or diabolical depending on the weather before and during.

    Fantom has now had two weeks recovering from his episode at Euston Park and appears to be feeling fit and well. I have just started him back in work, nice and gently and, hopefully by the end of the week he will have had a good training session just before my operation to check whether he will slot into plan B.

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    Chiara is doing quite a bit of much-needed schooling and to vary it a bit, some more polework, perhaps even a little jump. She really thrives on variety and keeping her interest while being productive is quite challenging.

    Finally we have had the brilliant news that the 2019 European Endurance Championships will be held at Euston Park in Suffolk. There was always a good chance that the Championships would be awarded to Britain but it is great to have it confirmed. The venue and the choice of courses available rivals anything you could find in Europe and the organisation is bound to be superb.


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