Well, I have to say something about the coronavirus; it’s affecting everyone in some way or another. While it is so disappointing to not be able to compete, it is really necessary that we, as a human race, pull together in our efforts to minimise the impact on the general population and, indeed, on the more vulnerable people on our planet.
It is hard to accept that we cannot carry on as usual when we are feeling well and active and have fit horses peaking soon for the competitions they are aimed at. However, equestrian competitions, indeed any sporting competition, pale into insignificance compared to the safety and health of our fellow human beings.
That said, I am now beginning to ramp up the training of both Chiara (pictured bove) and Fantom as life has to go on and we have to look to the future (what else would I do anyway?). Unfortunately, the ride we were due to attend last weekend was cancelled due to waterlogged conditions at the venue (yes, do you remember all the problems caused by the incessant rain?!). This was to be a tough training ride over Dartmoor, but with opportunities to conquer some hills and up the all-round fitness a level. These things are sent to try us. I feel for a young endurance rider who had spent all her time and focus on preparing her horse for his first three-star event, which was to be at Fontainebleau at the end of March — this, of course, was cancelled. Where to go from here? These are the sort of dilemmas riders have to face now in all equestrian disciplines.
Yesterday the sun shone, and Chiara and I had a magnificent training ride. It wasn’t warm, but I still managed to wear my shades! The dunes had again changed shape and the local riding school had carved new deep gullies in the sand, which had to be negotiated and areas between the dunes had transformed into lakes. Challenges are all good, and I am pleased to say Chiara rose to the occasion, ploughing on through everything, even having to jump off the path onto the beach at the bottom as the sea had eroded yet more of the ‘dunes from hell’ path.
The beach was like another world with an offshore breeze for once making it almost like an oasis. The sand was iridescent with the sun reflecting in pools of left-behind sea water and was beckoning to us to canter, canter, canter. Restraint of course was the order of the day and we only cantered about five miles as that is the stage we are at in our fitness training, the end goal being still firmly in our sights.
I have joined the exalted ranks of being a ride organiser and my first ride was due to be at the weekend. Last week there was some uncertainty as to whether it will be able to go ahead, a worry that has given me a few sleepless nights. I have taken part on this ride many times and it is so strange not to be riding this time, but it has given me a chance to see how it all works from the other side and the opportunity to introduce new distances and a competitive element into the mix. I have now had to make the decision to cancel this event (a moral dilemma that was really no dilemma) just before Endurance GB announced that all competitions were cancelled until the end of May. I have, however, learned a lot from being an organiser even though the event didn’t actually happen, almost everything was done. Next year…
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Yesterday Fantom and I made a trip to the dunes to begin a little interval training up the steep path from the beach. The result of the winter storms could be clearly seen here with all the rubbish washed up on the shore and even the remains of poor St Piran’s Church and oratory were filled with deep water; history washed away!
Through all the doom and gloom and uncertainty, we need to keep some level of optimism. There could well be a full calendar of events later in the year, even an extension of the season for competitions with firmer ground conditions. We are still allowed to ride out into the countryside, summer is coming, and the sun will shine more and more. Onwards and upwards!
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