Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: frozen poos and interrupted fitness plans

  • The past couple of weeks have been busy with the horses. All of them have made some progress or at least re-established their pre-Antarctic fitness levels, small training rides have been entered and plans have been made for each horse.

    Before the advent of the snow, I introduced some sessions in the school which had miraculously dried up providing a reasonable surface. Well, Chi had totally forgotten what to do in the school and all she remembered is that it can be a fun place to speed everywhere. Big sighs and back to walking, often in circles making use of poles on the ground — will we ever progress? Fantom should really improve his canter as this is the pace he will be using mostly in competition and it needs to be as economical as possible. However, the day I had planned the start of this mission, the dry spell ended; it got cold, very cold and some white flakes descended from the sky. The school assumed a concrete-like texture topped with a rather depressing white mantle.

    Training abruptly came to a halt. The ground was frozen and white and we had no water either in the house or in the yard. The Co-op, which we just managed to get to, provided us with water and the lake provided the horses with theirs so it wasn’t too bad and at least this time we had electricity.

    I had planned to take Fantom for his first beach run but of course we couldn’t get to the beach and anyway I heard that the sand (the parts still visible) had frozen hard. Although the horses had all experienced a little snow before, crew dog Kira hadn’t and found it an amazing and extremely exciting experience.

    Kira’s reaction to the snow

    When I came back from the Antarctic I had wondered what use my Antarctic boots would be in almost tropical Cornwall but I needn’t have given it a thought, they came in mighty handy — no cold wellies for me just warm, toasty toes! Another upside of the cold is that mucking out is so much easier as the frozen poo just flies out into the wheelbarrow, light as air.

    The snow fortunately for us was short-lived and we ventured out having only lost three days’ work. It was all in walk initially with extreme care but at least we were doing something. The school, however, has now resumed its lake-like appearance after all the heavy rain we have had since.

    Dilmun looking for food

    We have at last had a result — Chiara has learned to drink with a bit in her mouth. This has taken almost two years to perfect. Obviously her chosen source of water is, shall we say, rather different to my preference; brown muddy puddles are definitely the biz!

    The fitness levels of both Chiara and Fantom have been raised, although in Fantom’s case only slightly. Chiara has clearly been busy while I have been away and even now that I am back, she can be seen marching up and down the field with a couple of good uphill canters thrown in.

    Continued below…

    Today Fantom has had his first session on the beach. This was not designed to be a major cantering exercise so early in the season rather building on the base fitness work he has done so far; unfortunately he didn’t get the memo! After slugging along for most of the way to the beach, he instantly transformed into an electric grey pogo stick before settling down to do some steady work (pictured top).

    Fantom the pogo

    Next weekend I will hopefully be taking Fantom to Dartmoor to do some steady hill training although I’m not sure how good the going will be with the amount of rain that has fallen on top of the melted snow.


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