I’m back in action! OK it wasn’t the next day but it was the next week. The thought of spinal surgery was no problem — pretty terrifying but the reality; well actually I slept all the way through it.
My first ride following surgery was a little tentative and I selected my partner with great care. Clearly Chiara with her fast beat walk and jet-propelled trot was out of the question and Dilmun’s constant suspicion of every blade of grass was a disincentive; this made me select the wonderful ‘Super Slug’, Fantom (pictured top doing some jumping for variety). He lived up to his nickname and was indeed a steady eddy which was, for once, something I was grateful for and we proceeded mostly in walk with a little trot, worrying about stitch popping, but successfully made it around the block.
Since that first ride, things have got better on a daily basis and I am now training Chiara on the hills mostly in walk and trot and increasing the length of the time in the saddle and the speed each time. Tomorrow is the time for a longer training session for both Chiara and Fantom (with jockey Jan on Fantom) and a little more structured cantering.
To my joy we have had rain, real rain and even more joyously, it hasn’t simply ran off baked earth, but has soaked in improving the going no end. There are now many more possibilities for training opening up.
Out of the saddle I realise that my own personal fitness has taken a knock. My cardiovascular fitness seems to have totally disappeared at the moment and seems irretrievable, and I have to adopt structured exercises to strengthen my left leg a bit at a time. Next week I hope to have a lesson to ensure that I am riding straight and adjust where necessary. Not baby steps but just slightly shorter ones than usual.
This is one of those times when the idea of having a groom/jockey appears highly attractive. While riding is going fairly well, I am struggling with the daily horse jobs such as poo picking, feeding, grooming and so on. In endurance in this country, a groom is far from the norm with perhaps only a handful of endurance folks employing such ‘angels’. I think this is not only because of the financial status of endurance riders over here, but also because of the unique bond with the horse we have. To compete over the considerable distances we do, you have to know your horse inside out for both your sakes. My own view is that caring for and training your horse and spending so much time with him is invaluable and cannot be replaced by employing people to do that for you. However, a little help now and then is always welcome!
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Back to Watergate Endurance and I am now on a mission. It is now less than three weeks to the Endurance Masters at Euston Park and I have entered Chiara in the two-star with the view to gaining another qualification towards the Europeans next year. This will be an enormous event with a lot of buzz and an atmosphere of excitement and, although a little worrying for her and me, it will be an excellent experience. More about our progression towards this event next time…
* This blog was edited on 2 August 2018 *
*Apology and correction: 3 August 2018* The original version of Annie Joppe’s blog contained some statements, which while published in good faith, were later found to be inaccurate. We would like to apologise for this error and any distress caused to any individuals involved. An accurate description of the events running up to Charlie Charwick’s suspension can be found on p6 of Horse & Hound magazine (2 August 2018 edition).
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