Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: the job from hell

  • Yes, I spotted a golden eagle; not in Cornwall though but in the Highlands of Scotland. The husband and I, together with the crew dog Kira, decided to have a week’s holiday hiking in Scotland. It was a holiday in that we were away from home, but the hiking bit was a little like a boot camp but with benefits. I have to say that I’ve seen snow already in the British Isles this year; okay just a smattering, but definitely white and slippery. Obviously, with my ultra competitive attitude, I felt we had to go up Ben Nevis and we (Kira and I) did this at a good speed, but the feeling afterwards resembled the aftermath of a 160km endurance race.

    Kira and I in Scotland

    This does bring home to me the realisation of how a horse must feel after completing such an endurance test, and the importance of not only general all-round conditioning at the beginning of the year, but specific conditioning for each individual event, bearing in mind the likely going and terrain.

    Shock, horror: on my return from our glorious week in Scotland, I have found my poor school under leaf. Before I went I harrowed it ready for my projected schooling sessions with Wizard and Dilmun, but now I can see no original surface. Who would build a school under the trees? Not me, but in fairness to the former owners, there are trees everywhere and the school is unfortunate enough to be under some mighty oaks. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to clear the leaves quickly and painlessly without taking up the surface, please, please let me and my back know!

    My poor school

    Before our break, Fantom and Chiara started their annual holidays and all four horses were moved to a neighbour’s fields which hadn’t ever been grazed by horses. They were sooooo excited and celebrated madly at the freedom from work and the yummy new grazing (pictured top). Little did Dilmun and Wizard know that I would be back soon and they would be my target.

    I have done as much investigating as possible on Chiara’s suspect lameness and it appears it comes down to her changing shape and her saddle no longer fitting. Reluctantly I have decided that she needs a new saddle when she comes back to work in December. There is certainly no sign of any lameness now. Not only has she changed shape, but she has become a rather lovely dark brown colour resembling my favourite chocolate.

    Dilmun before the hair assault

    Chiara is a rug ripper and I’ve tried to mend the same, quite expensive rug several times and the longest my mend lasted has been 10 days! Robert, in his infinite wisdom, has offered to buy me one of my most-hated household appliances: a sewing machine. Obviously his motive is not to simply mend my rugs but to do other hideous tasks such as taking up curtains (my curtains have turn-ups) and mending sails. Thankfully Lidl (the husband’s favourite shop) has sold out of them!

    There are so many jobs connected to keeping and riding horses, and some are nicer than others. While mucking out, tack cleaning and poo picking can usually rank highly among the least favourite but essential jobs; clipping, in my book, is akin to toilet cleaning. It is a job from hell and has to be endured here at Watergate Endurance, not just once a year, not just in the autumn and winter, but THROUGHOUT the year!

    Continued below…

    Dilmun after his trim

    This time of year is, of course, the worst and the clipping I did today of the mighty Dilmun has to be right up there with one of the worst horse jobs ever. Dilmun HATES being clipped (in fact he hates being touched anywhere except below the knee and hock and his mane and tail). Coupled with his attempts to bite and kick when the clippers touch him, he has the thickest coat an Arab horse has ever grown, resembling the coat of a Shetland pony. But I did it! When I say that, I mean I managed to get some kind of a cross between a bib clip and a chaser clip. Feeling fairly pleased with myself, I took him out afterwards for a gentle hack and a little quiet schooling and realised to my horror that he managed to sweat almost everywhere I hadn’t clipped: oh no, not another session!


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