Day 57 Saturday
This was to be Kandahar's first 120km FEI so I was under instruction ride nicely and bring the horse home safely.
Early to bed Frday night and yet my alarm still seemed to go off too soon. 3am pitch black and why are there no other people around getting ready to leave on this 120km. Before I knew it was 4 o'clock and it was time for us to leave. The 120km class left with the 160km class due to there only being 2 people within that class.
The first loop was 40kms along a dirt road. As it was pitch black we all followed a cars out to lead the way and used our head torches too. Kandahar was keen from the start and we were always near the front of the pack.
The 160km riders were doing a shorter route than us so turned off sooner than we did. The 120km competitors stuck together and we rode the entire distance together..... in complete silence.
Back at the venue and time for vetting, still in the dark! No groom in sight and too cold to put water on, so i just had to wait for the pulse to drop. Walked into vetting and vetted fine.
Dawn was just arriving by the time I left for my second loop. The second loop was 32km mostly in deep sand dunes. Kandahar went out with a lot of energy and we bounced the entire way with such ease. Despite going out far behind the group we caught up with everyone by the second water point. " Hier kom die swart perd" translated "Here comes the black horse" was what one competitor said to me.
We rode in as a group into our second vet gate. The other 4 Perseverance horses had vetted in their first vetgate and all were through. Kandahar vetted and we were through and onto the 3rd loop.
The 3rd loop was 30kms. This loop took us down a dirt road and then off into sand dunes going up/down hill. We were happily cantering along the road and then i heard a "hey". Turned round in the saddle and realised Ashley had just gone by me on the way back to the venue. I was completly absorbed in riding I hadn't even noticed him.
This 3rd loop was really tough and tiring for both horse and rider so our speed slowed down. But we trotted into the vet gate for another vet check. The other 4 Perseverance horses were also all through and Kandahar also made it through so we went into our vet hold. We had a vet check 15 minutes before we were due to go out in which time we were able to see Ashley come in finishing his 80km so we vetted together.
One more loop to go only 18kms. Seeing as Ashley had already ridden this loop I quizzed him on what it was like so I'd know what to expect. Off we went to ride the 18km on our own. Kandahar was tired by this point so we took it very gently and although our speed slowed down I knew that if we got round he'd be perfectly fine.
18km's done and we still had enough energy to canter into the venue. The worst part - final vetting!!! Heart in my mouth and feeling sick to my stomach I went into vetting with Ash accompanying me as he was going to trot the horse up as he knows the horse far better than I.
All vetted and thumbs up!!! All 5 Perseverance horses had made it around this tough sandy course!
Later on Mabruk, Mauser and Kandahar were all called in for Best Condition for their various classes. I hate Best Condition reasons being horses are tired so I think they should rest, I'm tired and I NEVER win this!
That evening we had prize giving. Starting with the longer distances first with the first 160km home and the other out on course. Then 120km 1st place Abbi Tennant and Perseverance Kandahar. "WHAT?!?!?" I couldn't believe it, I was so sure I was lying in about 5th position. What a result!!! Onto the 80km YR's and Ashley won his class with Mabruk!!! Another fantastic result. And so Best Condition...... For the 120km - Abbi Tennant and Perseverance Kandahar. I was absolutely dumb founded I never win this award. Fantastic result I was over the moon so had to rush out side to call Lucy and let her know. Ashley also won Best Condition with Mabruk!!!
So the Perseverance Team had a brilliant weekend with some fantastic results!!!
Day 58 Sunday
The day after the ride and the oh so not a joy of packing. Laura and Bob took Jedi and Mauser off into the sand dunes to do some training as in a few weeks they will be heading to Walvis Bay in Namibia for the African Championship.
We packed up the majority of the camp and I was on breakfast duty. Horses were also walked out and finally we were on the road home. Another couple of hours journey home but with some stunning scenery. I obviously spent a fair bit of time snapping away with my camera.