Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: ‘I take a stethoscope with me at all times’

  • After a busy start to the season, there is now a lull in proceedings. There have been no competitions for us for the past two weeks and there are no competitions for the next couple of weeks.

    The first FEI ride in the UK has been and gone and, in the King’s Forest in Norfolk, was one of my favourites. Following the races online is great but not as good as actually being there; next time…

    Now is the time to concentrate on fitness training for Fantom and Dilmun and to a slightly lesser extent for Chiara. Poor little Chiara had a bit of an accident, slipping backwards onto some concrete and getting a nasty cut on her hock. Thankfully this is not serious but interrupted her training for 10 days or so.

    Dunes training

    Over the past couple of weeks Fantom has continued his conditioning and schooling involving work over poles and lungeing using a Pessoa. He has also had his first few serious fitness sessions. Last week I took him to Bodmin Moor for some hill work and distance training. With the wonderful dry weather we have been having in Cornwall, the going was fantastic allowing long uphill canters and some balanced downhill trot work with short intervals at walk to recover. He coped well as this was a pretty demanding session, finishing on a respectable pulse (yes, I take the stethoscope with me at all times!).

    Prior to this session we had our first outing to the beach and dunes. Fantom was carefully ‘dressed’ for this with additions such as martingale, training boots and a parachute for me! It all went well and he didn’t behave too badly and managed the canter work and the notorious dunes very well.

    Yesterday’s session was interval training on the dunes which comprised three demanding canters up from the beach to the top of the dunes where the pulse reaches 200 beats per minute at the top and then drops back down to around 70 by the time we get back to the bottom again.

    Moors training

    Dilmun (pictured) has also been working hard with beach training and a session around the local cross-country course (no jumps). I do have a couple of concerns as to whether he is really up for the endurance competition at Windsor. Although he went very well in Dorset, Windsor is a flat, fast course and I am not sure he is quite ready for this. Perhaps I will take Fantom instead. Today, however, is ballot day for Windsor so we have to wait and see whether we have an entry at all.

    Each time I need to amend an entry there are knock on effects for both my other horses and my crew. In endurance your crew is your rock, they are there to support you and your horse both out on course and in the vet gates and are an essential part of the team. When you win, your whole crew win and when things don’t go quite according to plan, you’re not on your own.

    Continued below…

    Only a handful of people make a living from endurance in this country, and very few can afford to make it a full-time occupation. I am lucky enough to be self-employed and work from home and can to some extent juggle work with training. It is fun sometimes writing orders from the back of a horse who is still desperately trying to continue its canter work!

    My fitness was pretty much on track for this time of year with strengthening exercises feeling quite easy (must up the repetitions!) and my jogging getting a little faster. However, a pulled back caused by who knows what, has slowed me down and necessitated a trip to the sports physio — he has magic hands!


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