Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: the sky is the limit

  • My life over the past couple of weeks seems to have consisted to a large degree of packing and unpacking the trailer and Jeep and cleaning mountains and mountains of kit. My washing machine (and the husband!) has been complaining loudly as yet another heap of grubby horsey kit has been rammed in and the door jammed shut. All the labour, careful planning and intense action however paid off. What a good couple of weeks we have had.

    First up was Fantom with a graded ride of 42km aiming to up his fitness levels. This was another ride in beautiful Dorset situated just below the Cerne Giant etched into the hillside. I thought the previous ride we went to in Dorset was hilly, but this one was even hillier and to add to that, it was a hot day for so early in the season, and of course we weren’t used to seeing much sun at all.

    Fant and I in Dorset

    We had pretty much cracked the packing for this ride and managed to arrive with all the essentials for an overnight stay for both humans and horses. The ride itself went absolutely perfectly with Fantom maintaining a good speed quite effortlessly and finishing with a pulse of 40bpm. Actually there was one thing that we hadn’t got with us: sun block, resulting in a rather red nose and cheeks as though I had been on the Prosecco!

    Back home and I had a few days to clean, change all the kit and repack the trailer for the next one. This time it was Royal Windsor with Chiara who attempted her first two-star 120 km competition. Packing for this one had to be precise, involving an ever-lengthening list. In endurance there is not only the horse’s feed and kit to pack as well as all things human, but there is also all the kit for the crew both for the vet gate area plus the crew car and each horse has different requirements.

    My crew in the vetgate at Windsor

    As usual, Royal Windsor endurance was impeccably organised by HPower with excellent, if pricey, stabling, very tight security and a beautifully laid out venue. Chiara got all dressed up for the pre-ride vetting the day before and looked good trotting up (as usual, as fast as possible) for the vets and we were good to start the next day.

    Chi pre-ride at Windsor

    I had decided in advance that I was going to start at the back and let the pack canter out of sight and ride my own ride. The start went really well and we quietly trotted between the flags and picked up canter after half a mile or so. Although Chiara pulled quite strongly we managed to maintain a steady speed on the first loop even when cantering around Ascot racecourse. However, when we arrived back at the first vet gate I had a far from calm quiet horse. Chiara was so excited, trying to get a pulse reading on a moving target was almost impossible and she managed to slightly damage four of my wonderful crew by either treading on them, head-butting them in the stomach or simply hitting them on the head. They survived; they’re made of strong stuff!

    A crew stop with Chi

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    The next loop we took a bit faster and moved through the field (pictured top), but again Chi was in a high state of excitement coming into the vet gate (she had already done about 65km) and it still took a while before we could go to the vetting. The third loop saw us overtaking some tired horses and maintaining our speed pretty well and we had a bit of an easier time in the vet gate. Compulsory recheck done and we were out on the final loop. We realised that quite a lot of horses had been vetted out at the previous vet gate and we passed a couple more horses to come over the line in 10th place and best of the British.

    I am so proud of my little Chiara, she is only 14.2hh but a little bundle of energy, who knows what she could achieve in the future.

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