Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: I think I feel a complaint coming on…

With two impending three-star competitions looming it was time to sort out crew for both these competitions, bearing in mind that they are only two weeks apart. Many messages later and I think I am almost there with just some doubt about my Dutch crew, Kiwi. I am really lucky to call on so many experienced crew members and friends which have allowed me to put together the best possible team for each competition.

Since Chiara came back into work, I have been so busy trying to train both horses systematically as well as work and family commitments vying for my time. I bit the bullet and put out a call on our local endurance group’s page for someone to help me by riding Fantom while I rode Chiara. I have been so lucky to find someone who drives 45 minutes to me for these training sessions and can happily put up with any antics Fantom may care to display and doesn’t complain about the long canter training on the beach or the hair-raising interval training through the ‘dunes from hell’. This has meant that I only have to do three major training sessions per week instead of six plus the accompanying school work.

Dilmun looking well

Part of Fantom’s training was planned to be a 64km local graded ride so that we could test everything out by having a vetgate and check all the gear was comfortable and worked properly. We packed everything, washed Fantom and were generally prepared. Luckily we decided the day before to hitch up to the trailer. The Jeep gave a cough and a wheeze and then nothing, which repeated several times: what a failure. My husband sweet-talked the AA man to come out to us but it couldn’t be fixed and had to be taken away on a recovery vehicle. Clearly this ride was not meant to be.

Now it was plan B. Well actually I didn’t have a plan B as I didn’t predict a failure of our wheels but hey ho, I can be adaptable; even innovative. I decided to do a long, slow ride from home taking in the usual areas, plus some a little further afield. We went over the dunes, down and along the beach, back across the dunes then headed out into almost uncharted territory for us across a common and down to another little cove and back the long way. In total we covered about 35km and I felt that we had partially achieved what the graded ride was intended to do.

Sick Jeep

Something completely different but of significant importance to me is that discussions for a toilet at the stable yard are underway. This is not, as you might think, because it will make my life easier. Oh no, it is because we host the annual Goonfest (manic party) in our barn and it is felt that facilities should be provided for our guests who would otherwise have to wait until after dark to find a convenient spot! Maybe though when the plumbing is done, my ‘spare’ washing machine could be plumbed in so that all my horsey washing could be done in situ and I wouldn’t have to keep hoovering out the washing machine in the house!

For the past few weeks I have been on the dunes and the beach training and every time, regardless of the time of day, there has been a helicopter circling overhead. This helicopter appears at first glance to be conducting a search — fair enough you might say if it had been a rescue one — and flies backwards and forwards as if combing the beach and dunes looking for a small ant. Ok, the horses are quite good and sometimes when it is windy (which it often is) they don’t actually hear it coming, but it is so, so low and cantering along I get glimpses of it right above my head at the minimum height allowed. What does freak them and me out though is when it suddenly appears over the cliff and flies directly towards us. I think I feel a complaint coming on…

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I followed the Royal Windsor endurance rather enviously. This has got to be one of my favourite rides and, apart from one occasion when my enemy the Canadian Geese scuppered my plans, one of my most successful ones. I had originally planned to take Fantom to Euston Park at the beginning of May for his three-star which would have been far too close to Windsor, but unfortunately this was cancelled. In the meantime my husband organised a little sailing jaunt with his friends over the Windsor weekend and needed the towing vehicle, so all I could do was just watch from afar.

Annie

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