Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: in the midst of a storm

  • As I write, ex-hurricane Ophelia is nearly here. Just another few hours and the full force will be felt. We are in an area totally surrounded by trees and the sound of the wind moaning is quite scary. Luckily at least 50% of the leaves have already fallen making it harder for the wind to actually knock any of the trees down. The poor horses, however, are not terribly happy with everything blowing about; I decided it was safer for them to stay out rather than risk the creaking and banging noises in the old stabling freaking them out.

    The horses are very much in a state of ‘au naturel’; their manes are wild and muddy, their tails keep gathering twigs and leaves and they are liberally coated in mud. Dilmun, especially, has made it his mission to cover every available body part in thick, dark mud (pictured top), but even this doesn’t hide his ever-growing grass belly. I think I will have some work to do before training recommences and the winter routine begins.

    My beach training ground

    I am looking forward to next week when Wizard and Chiara have their shoes put back on and work recommences. The ancient Wizard will start his winter regime of light hacking and maybe a little dressage again (if he behaves!). I feel it is important for him to do light work over the colder, damper months now that he is getting on a bit, just to keep the old joints free and supple. Ideally he would live out all the time in the winter but he, unlike the other three, actually prefers to come in at night in the winter and be cuddled up in his stable.

    Dilmun, much against his wishes, will come in at night too when it gets wetter as he is a winter sufferer of mud fever if left out all the time, but generally it is easy enough to manage with a 50/50 in/out regime.

    Fantom and Chiara are much happier with 24/7 access to the field and they will share the largest field with a good field shelter over the winter. Chiara will come into work too after her holiday and I plan to work on her schooling with regard to rhythm and balance especially in canter. She also needs to experience more natural and man-made hazards so we will be out and about.


    Already both the FEI and Endurance GB calendars for next year are filling up with events. Plans are now starting to be formed for all the horses. My main focus next year will be on Chiara’s progression to, hopefully, the ultimate three-star 160km qualification with a view to the European Championships in 2019. I would like Fantom to do another three-star too and, without selection pressure, be as competitive as possible; now this would be nice if it could be combined with the national championships…

    I’m still not riding yet but I’ve just returned from a run — yes, I actually managed to run rather than jog for a whole 4km including through the river and up the steep rough tracks. I wish I could say that I loved it, indeed that I love running, but the truth is I don’t much. The best bit is getting back afterwards and putting my feet up for 10 minutes!

    My tack room-building progress

    The problem with running is motivation, and to this end I am targeting one of those ‘wonderful’ park runs which take place throughout the country to encourage people to put on their running shoes. These runs are about 5km long and at last they’ve come to Cornwall and there is one every Saturday only about half an hour drive from here, yippeeee!

    Continued below…

    As I now finish writing, the storm is at its peak here in Cornwall and it is so strange: no rain, very warm and sunny but with vicious and prolonged gusts. The best bit is (fingers crossed) we still have power and no trees down but some of the electric fencing has been uprooted and tossed 30 feet into the air and caught on top of the trees — removal of this could be somewhat challenging.

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