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Annie Joppe’s endurance blog: we will have to wait and see…

I am sitting here at my desk, dressed in my new Ariat Ascent boots and chaps, which feel amazing and so high-tech. I am going to test these in endurance for Ariat and can’t wait to get started when we are ‘allowed out’ — I just don’t want to get them dirty!

The whole world has become smaller. I am used to saying “what a small world!” when I meet someone I know in a remote region, but this is just the exact opposite. It’s such a strange feeling to limit contact with fellow human beings to your household, it must be so much worse for people living on their own.

To ride or not to ride? Morally it is up to each individual rider to make that decision. Will I feel the pressure of potentially harming my fellow human beings by putting our NHS at risk because I have a fall? How likely is this? How can I minimise that risk and continue to do something with the horses? Lungeing and long-reining are far more dangerous with my half-fit competition horses, so the alternatives appear to be ride or not to ride.

Annie Joppe

Fant ready for immediate action

There may be competitions later in the year — Endurance GB have cancelled all events until the middle of June — but as things stand at the moment, it is unlikely that competitions will come ‘on song’ in June. I have decided to let Fantom down, although this is quite difficult as he’s jumping out of his skin and does hugely risky things in the field (you would definitely not want to be in the same field as him!).

At present, I am wondering whether to ride Chiara at least to continue her schooling, although obviously I wouldn’t try to proceed with her jumping education. An endurance horse, or at least a hot-blooded Arab, is used to so much freedom and in the process of doing endurance, a very strong bond is formed. We do fun things! OK, there are some things that we have to do to ensure that the partnership is still under direction of the rider, but we cover vast distances, experience different parts of the countryside; in effect we ‘see the world’. A life, albeit temporarily, focussed on schoolwork (even with the imagination stretched to capacity to induce variety) is not the usual life of the ‘hot’ endurance horse. I will have to have my imagination in overdrive in the coming weeks!

Annie Joppe

Chi

I am so lucky — I have space, my horses are at home and my son escaped from work in a very large office in Bristol at the very last minute to return to our family home (working from home), but social distancing from the rest of us.

In the depths of Cornwall there are not many people to be seen at the moment; the locals going about their business within the social distancing guidelines and then there are the not so local people. Yesterday a couple of lycra-clad cyclists, complete with shiny bikes, stopped by the yard to tell me that “there is a sheep with a small sheep, who it seems to be protecting, wandering around”. A small sheep? Surely, they have heard of lambs or do they think that sheep arrive fully grown?

With the wonderfully dry weather, now is the time to do all the many jobs that come with spring with the benefit of having little ‘real’ work to occupy my time. We have been fencing, creosoting, harrowing and rolling, sowing some grass seed and now just have some fertilising to do. Even my school, which suffered badly with all the rain and resembled a greenish swamp, has now been harrowed and restored to its former glory.

Annie Joppe

Me doing some creosoting

My horses are now enjoying being naked by day, but on the very first day the ancient Wizard got bitten by the one and only insect in Cornwall so he’s already in a fly rug. Dilmun’s hair has been coming out for the past couple of weeks by the mattress-load; he must be the hairiest Arab ever. This has now become a mission for me, although of course my clothes have now gained much of the hair Dilmun has lost!

Annie Joppe

Dilmun’s ‘mattress stuffing’

Horses retain their fitness levels for far longer than humans do. My horses are what you might call half-fit, which is probably when they are at their most unpredictable. By the time competitions have restarted, they will probably still be half-fit, but I would have lost any fitness I may have gained. To combat this problem, I am doing my regular RiderCise workouts four or five times a week. The workouts not only make me feel good afterwards, but they actually quite dramatically increasing my riding fitness so that I will be good to go once out training and competing again. I might winge and moan about having to do this exercise, but it helps me keep focussed on my goals.

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The planning continues — the “when it’s all over” scenario has various outcomes to cover as many eventualities as possible. With all endurance in this country having been cancelled up until the middle of June, my first competition on my schedule would be a three-star, which Chiara has been aimed at. However, without being able to train before then, this clearly would be impossible. We will just have to see how it all goes and chill…

This is my last blog for a while, but in the meantime keep safe, be happy and #wewillrideagain!

Annie

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