Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: a question for the endurance world

  • I may just be lucky enough to have another FEI horse to ride. This is Brookleigh (B), who I rode last year in a local graded ride. Her owner, Katherine (who is also one of my amazing crew), would like B to keep her FEI qualifications but unfortunately, due to work and time constraints, has lost her own. The aim here is to complete an FEI one-star before the end of the season, which sounds easy enough on paper but requires a lot of work to get her fit enough to compete at that level. Brookleigh is an Australian stock horse which is a complete divergence from the usual Arab I am used to, but she is a determined sort and her past results speak for themselves — I am really looking forward to this.

    Poor little Chiara had a touch of colic a few days after her outing to Dorset — of course the vet was immediately called and arrived with impressive speed. After a little medicine Chiara was fine and went under 24 hour observation, but it was apparent that she had recovered. Feedmark were amazing sending out a tub of BioPro, arriving the next day, which helped enormously and from now on she will have this in her Formulate.

    I am now trying to get Regumate for Chiara in time for her next competition at The Masters in three weeks time. Yes, I know I should have done this before but there’s nothing like a timely reminder in that Chiara is refusing to drink water again when in training so it’s ‘knickers off time’ resulting in an urgent call to the vet!

    Chiara is in full training again, this time for a two-star, but I would like her to be the best that she (and I) can be. To this end, I am trying to build on previous fitness which was geared to a steady completion over a considerable distance, up to a slightly faster performance with, hopefully, a speedier recovery pulse. IT IS NOT EASY! How to balance maximum fitness with being chilled enough to stand still after running, to eat and drink and focus on the job? This is something I have been working at for the past two years and something that I keep thinking I’ve cracked, only to find that I have to go back to the drawing board. This time, however, although it will be a very busy competition, there is no pressure and I can go completely on how she feels and behaves.

    Chiara preparing for heat training

    I have been training Chiara mostly on the beach to avoid the hard ground inflicted on Cornwall by the heat wave. It is 45 minutes each way at a gentle speed before I can get going but, on the upside, I don’t need to worry that she’s not fully warmed up. I did try in the middle of the day (the tides influence the actual times I can work on the beach), but I was thwarted by the ‘flying men’ — the paragliders who soar, apparently effortlessly, off the top of the dunes casting their horse-terrifying shadows on the beach as they pass over. The next time was in the evening and this time it was much quieter with only two flying men — one who did an abortive take off and the other who crashed into the dunes (he was fine). We were off — Chiara’s accustomed rather fast canter at 22kph made the beach speed by and we did a pretty good session. Next time might, just might, be first thing in the morning before the flying men manage to make it to the dunes.

    The saga of the magpies continues. I had decided to be nice to my magpies, well say something nice about them when saluting them in an effort to create a little good luck. The very next day one of them drowned itself in Chiara’s water bucket and the day after I found a couple of magpie feathers outside her stable. Just coincidence you may say, but…? Yesterday I was showing my husband, while sitting on the patio right outside the house, the ‘What Three Words’ app on my phone which identifies where you are by the use of three specific words for each 3m square location throughout the country. Guess what the first word was — yes, it was ‘magpie’ — spooky or what?

    Dil back in work

    Fantom has come back into work after his ‘almost’ three-star last month. This time in the initial stages, he has a work companion in the shape of Dilmun. The boys have been out and about together (I ride and lead) and both are feeling good. Fantom had a bit of downtime today in the school doing something that he seems to absolutely — jumping (pictured top). Now I don’t really do jumping any more, but have to grit my teeth periodically and make myself do it because the horse loves it! I am, therefore, a bit rusty but can just about remember how much I used to love it. Note to self: look up!

    As for Dilmun, he has come back into work with a bounce. Actually Dilmun has always felt as though he was bouncing as he has a quite elevated Arab action which, although beautiful as he floats along, is quite tiring for long distances. We have been walking for the past couple of weeks which has resulted in quite sore seat bones. I think us endurance riders spend quite a bit of time with our seat bones out of the saddle, so when it comes to prolonged walking and sitting trot ,we are a bit delicate. I have the solution though in the shape of a remarkable Feedmark seat saver made of memory foam covered in fleece — truly luxurious.

    Continued below…

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    On a different note, we, as FEI riders, have received a questionnaire from our national federation regarding the proposed new endurance rules for 2020. It still seems such a shame that this is necessary, but necessary it is. The FEI’s temporary committee have come up with a number of proposals designed to curb speed and thwart rule breaches. While this is laudable, it is such a shame that given this opportunity endurance could not have seized the moment and rewritten the rules rather than just increasing the rule book and making the rules more complex and difficult to adhere to. One thing in particular that stands out is these proposed new rules will make it harder for the smaller and less well-funded nations to qualify their horses and riders for championships: surely this is not what we want?


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