Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: ‘his teeth were snapping within millimetres of my nether regions’

  • The endurance season has officially started for us at Watergate Endurance. Our first graded ride at the weekend showcased our amazing sport with wall to wall sunshine and happy, friendly faces, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. We are so lucky to have this welcoming accessible sport on all our doorsteps. The two weeks of howling gales are now a thing of the past (fingers crossed) and spring has well and truly arrived.

    Following the recent squad assessment, my exercise ball duly arrived in the post but had to be wrestled from the jaws of crew dog, Kira, who is convinced that any spherically-shaped object arriving in the post and requiring unwrapping must be for her (to be fair, it usually is!).

    I have started my cardiovascular workouts by doing some gentle jogging and downloaded a new running app so I could see how my son is progressing with his running and he could, perhaps, encourage me with mine. However I was not quick enough with the privacy settings and have discovered to my horror that an ultra marathon runner I know is following my stumbles around the countryside!

    Waiting for work in the sunshine

    The older boys are now out in the sunshine 24/7 and are mostly naked. This is the time of year they enjoy; warm weather but without the flies and the chance to roll and roll to try to remove their excess hair and, of course, get as muddy as possible. To help them with their hair removal I bring them in and have fun scraping the endless dead hair off their bodies. The ancient one adores this but Dilmun, being Dilmun, is much less keen, even managing to bite the end of my finger. Following this episode I got trapped in his stable with him as the bottom bolt magically closed itself without any help from anybody. Needless to say I had nothing to hook it up with and there was nobody handily outside to let me out. I really feel it takes a lot of courage to climb over the door, teetering on the top with Dilmun’s teeth snapping within millimetres of my nether regions.

    Chiara has been training using the available terrain locally; the big stubble field just above us, the dunes, the sand track around the daffodil field on the edge of the dunes and, of course, the dunes and beach itself. This work has not been intensive, rather progressive in terms of distance and hills used with a small amount of sustained cantering. I find her quite difficult to train using sustained cantering as she will just go and go and go without much regard for her own welfare, so at the moment this has taken a back seat.

    Chiara — as chilled as she gets

    We went to our first graded ride of the season which is quite local to us. It was only a 40km distance but it was the best training route making use of longer, hillier canter stretches to suit our programme. Chiara’s feet flew, barely touching the ground and she was such a joy to ride; it is so good to be on her back again and feel the desire in her to cover the ground.

    Yes, we covered the ground pretty quickly for a graded ride but also pretty safely minimising risk of injury, but what really pleased me was her behaviour in both vettings; just standing quietly and having her pulse taken. Both the pre-ride pulse and the important one after the ride were really good, so she is definitely learning to relax a bit occasionally. However, tacking up and preparing for the vet at the end are still a little stressful with a dancing, prancing steed.

    Chi through the gorse

    I am now getting excited about our two-star competition in 10 days’ time. This is 120km in the forests of Suffolk where the going is completely different to the terrain around here. It is flat, with sand and grass going and there are lots and lots of trees which all look the same — it’s in the King’s Forest.

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    Fantom, meanwhile, is ticking over as it is 11 weeks before his championship qualification attempt, which is still a long time. However, I don’t want to take a step back but am trying to improve his general fitness by doing hill work and gradually increasing the distance with a graded ride planned for him in a few week’s time to consolidate the training. Since removing his rider at his previous outing, he has made it clear that he is quite prepared to try it again and I have had to apply super glue to sit his randomly-timed bucks!

    My next blog will reveal success or failure in the King’s Forest; bring it on!


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