Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: spinning cars, manic dieting and fire alarms

  • Work with all three horses has progressed with Fantom upping a gear and introducing trot work in the school and up and down gentle gradients. The pole work is really helping him with his straightness especially with working on halting square, something he feels is totally unnecessary and, probably for an endurance horse it is. But unfortunately for him I used to event and all my endurance horses are (or will be in the case of Chiara!) schooled to at least prelim dressage level.

    Now that Wizard is trotting (pictured top) and has had the odd canter, it has become apparent that the old chap is a little stiff — not in his legs as you might think, but through his body finding work on a circle quite difficult. However, my wonderful sponsor has provided a feed supplement for him to try so hopefully there will be an improvement soon.

    Chiara doing pole work

    Another issue Wizard has is with tripping in front which is something he has always been a little prone to but has gradually got worse through the years. I have had my farrier (another wonderful person) to adjust his shoeing to alter the break-over point a little which seems to have helped.

    Chiara, well what can I say? She is so sensitive and a windy day is not a schooling or cantering day. Luckily up until the past couple of days it has been quiet and, rather gloriously, largely dry. She is now going through a good patch and seems to have ‘got’ the pole work in walk and is even doing her stretching down routine although halting is still a tad dramatic! Trot work too is coming on just fine as she seems more settled into her rhythm, especially on a circle, although the pace tends to creep up on a straight line (I now love circles!).

    Chiara trotting circles

    Well, I’m afraid I had to do a little bit more manic dieting immediately before the Endurance GB AGM and, in particular, the gala evening! This is something I was looking forward to as it was a chance to meet up with fellow competitors, friends and volunteers. In order to arrive there in plenty of time we had to leave at 6.30am when it was still dark and it had been snowing over the moors. This, coupled with a worry about the ABS functioning correctly in the car, made the first part of the journey rather interesting, but at least we managed to miss the spinning car who tried to overtake us on top of the moors!

    The AGM itself had a good positive vibe and it is apparent that there is an exciting future ahead for endurance in this country with plans to bring endurance up to the scale and standards of endurance in other European countries where it is a major equestrian sport.

    Details of a special international forum was announced for February with several high profile guest speakers including Tim Parkin from Glasgow University to give us an update of the analysis of the results of a two-year global injury study. This is particularly interesting in respect of the correlation of speed and endurance horses in relation to injuries and rest periods: a hot topic in endurance at the moment. Unfortunately it looks as though I will still be away on my Antarctic expedition then and will miss it by a couple of days.

    Our night at the ‘West End’

    One of my little ‘horsey endurance’ jobs at the moment is securing sponsorship for all our classes at the Golden Horseshoe ride, the traditional flagship of endurance in Great Britain. To this end, I had to keep popping out of the AGM (the boring bits of course) to speak to the various trade stands in the hotel foyer. On one of these trips I managed to obtain a sample of a new hydrating feed which I hope might be beneficial for Chiara in the vet gates and out on course in an attempt to get her to take on fluids. Now I just have to wait to try it out.

    In the evening was the gala awards dinner which was such fun! The theme was West End and our table was dressed as a mixture of ‘Cats’ and ‘Chicago’. Dancing went on late into the night and it was clear that endurance folk certainly know how to party!

    Continued below…

    We were quite tired after a long day and a late night (and a teensy weensy drop of a rather fizzy drink) and we duly sank into our beds. However, just before 5am the fire alarm rang. We staggered out into the corridor (after all, it wouldn’t be a fire drill at that time), shuffled along to the fire exit, checked out all the various sleeping outfits and waited. Eventually we were told someone had decided to have a shower in the middle of the night and the steam had set off the fire alarms (oh joy!). Back to bed then, two hours later and a freezing cold shower and a tepid breakfast and back to Cornwall. We endurance folk are hardy and tough and despite the hotel’s shortcomings, we had a fantastic time at an event which was meticulously organised for everyone’s enjoyment.

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