Fantom’s training reached the next level recently with a 20km training ride over Dartmoor. As I had expected the moor to be waterlogged after the snow melt and the recent rain, I had planned to take it easily to try to maintain an even rhythm.
To say the day was rather strange, was something of an understatement. It began in a far too casual manner with me setting the alarm for an hour later than it should have been. OK, this wasn’t too much of a disaster as I had woken early anyway and the start time was flexible. Fantom (pictured top on our ride) was out in the big field with his field shelter, a regime that he totally agrees with, but the second I appeared at the yard both he and Chiara deliberately galloped off to the furthest possible point (he had seen the trailer in the yard and watched me packing it the afternoon before).
Of course, after this little episode Fantom was totally lagged with mud in places you wouldn’t think mud could possibly get. Hose time, yes it works a treat and the mud was sluiced away. Unfortunately towards the end of this desperate clean up session, the hose split and emitted a fountain which duly soaked me. There was no time to change as we were already late.
Time to load up and this time Fantom marched purposefully up the ramp and we were just about to drive off when we realised that we needed to get diesel but who had the wallet? Nobody of course! Back to the house to grab it and now we were even more late.
At last we got to the venue, tacked up one very excited horse and away we went. As soon as we got to the top of the hill after a good climb up from the venue, the heavens opened with horizontal hail so a sideways shuffle was adopted until we could reach a little shelter. By now Fantom realised that this might be rather hard work so adapted his enthusiasm accordingly until we made an almost 360 degree turn around a rocky tor, at which point the rocket drive kicked in and we were propelled very fast for a considerable amount of time in the general direction of the venue.
Unfortunately this was not without incident as somehow a clip on the martingale attachment managed to ‘undo itself’ and almost simultaneously we successfully managed to lose a shoe. Undaunted Fantom continued at high speed managing to throw in the odd full body shake at canter, downhill of course, to the edge of the moor. We arrived at the moor gate and, following a quick itchy rub on the gate while I was undoing it, one of his rein clips came undone and I was sitting on a horse, all fired up on Dartmoor with only one rein! I did an ‘amazing’ dismount before Fantom realised how clever he’d been, and rescued the situation. Sometimes I wonder if I am just a consenting passenger or if I have an illusion of being in charge?
All in all it was an eventful day but successful in that fitness levels have definitely been raised. However, upon our return, I discovered that in our tiny community we had had the most random, excruciatingly loud and scary bang from up above; a lightening strike knocking out the phones and melting parts of a house nearby but strangely leaving our broadband alone.
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After this episode, Fantom had a few days off and I had a quick trip to Cyprus, snow hunting. I obviously didn’t get enough in the Antarctic; this time though I was looking for a day’s skiing. It was not to be and I had to ‘make do’ with 30 degrees by the pool for a couple of days. However, I was lucky to miss another brief spell of snow at home and we went straight back into the training.
Chiara had her first session on the beach, negotiating the dunes both on her way there and on the way back. We did some shortish canter sessions (1km interspersed with walking) for her to get the feel of some slightly faster work and to prepare her for her first competition of the season. Despite the deep gullies between the dunes being a little worrying for her and the somewhat unexpected ponds amidst the dunes, she worked well and very much within her comfort zone. I’m really looking forward to the start of the season with her at the weekend.