A year today Barik was attempting his first 120km. A year on and he has since completed 2 120kms and 1 160km and been ranked in the top 5 in all of the events.
However, as Barik is still on his holiday after his 160km at Kings Forest, I instead offered to help out at this event. Without all those volunteers to help at our endurance rides, they would not be able to run so I like to do my bit to give back to the sport.
My role for the day would be to assist the FEI TS with adding the FEI results onto a spreadsheet to send to the Federation. So I was office bound for most of the day and only ventured out to get the vet cards from each vet gate. I certainly was not going to complain seeing as we received continuous rain all afternoon.
It was certainly an interesting way to spend the day and to see the FEI event from another point of view rather than just being a rider. My role meant I could see how everyone was doing throughout their competitons from the results which came in on their vet gate cards.
The day was long and even after the riders had finished their competitions we were still in the office finishing off the paper work. I left the venue at half past 7 in the evening to drive home.
Sunday 18th August
I had been asked to ride Bright Dawn, a 7 year old, Crabbet Arab mare owned by Sue Loveridge. Dawn is just starting her career in Endurance and Barbury would be her second endurance ride. We would be competing in the 31km Novice class. Last year, I had had the chance to train Dawn whilst Sue was on her holiday last year so we were well acquainted to each other. Sue would be riding her other horse Siiberia (aka Spider) in the 64km class.
Sue and Spider were starting at half past 8 whilst Dawn and I were not due to start until half past 10.
Both horses were unloaded and we went off to vetting as Spider’s start time was soon. We took Dawn with Spider to vetting in order to keep him calm, although Dawn was really on her toes and could do nothing but jog her way over. Spider passed first vetting and could start the 64km.
Once Spider was tacked up and Sue was mounted we went off in our separate directions. I took Dawn to a stable to settle whilst Spider started his ride and we (I and Sue’s Crew, Sam) set up Spider’s vet gate. As soon as the vet gate was setup, Sam drove out to meet Sue at the various crewing points on course, whilst I went to check on Dawn.
Dawn had settled in the stable and although she could see everything she was not at all perturbed. It was half an hour until we were due to vet but as there were vets free I decided to take her, so that we could be on our way.
Dawn was a lot calmer and had a low pulse of 36bpm. She trotted up like a pro and we were allowed to start our ride.
Unfortunately, we did not have the calm start I had hoped for. As we were due to leave, two groups of riders were also starting in their various distances. This left Dawn feeling quite hyper and wanting to keep up with them all and be at the front (I think she’ll make a great race ride horse one day). Dawn lost the ability to be able to trot and could only do 3 strides of canter followed by a buck followed by more strides of canter before another buck. Once they were out of sight Dawn did calm down a little.
The first road crossing would be a step over a curb into a dark wood. Dawn did not like the look of this and rather than have an argument in the middle of the road, I jumped off and lead her through. With me going first she did not hesitate to follow and I jumped back into the saddle once we were in the wood. We trotted through the wood and up the first hill.
Once the first hill was out of the way she had settled into her endurance mode and we could trot along happily (it only took 3kms a lot less than either of my horses, who used to have to do about 3 loops first!).
We were caught up by a fellow rider who was competing in the pleasure ride. I soon realised it was Sarah, who I had first met at Berkshire Downs and then again at Kings Forest where we had ridden partly together. Small world!!
Both our horses were trotting at a similar pace so we stuck together the rest of the distance, taking it in turns to lead when the tracks got narrower.
Part of the route took us along the cross country route and point to point course. Dawn spooked at one of the jumps, although we were not near it, and slammed on brakes. I managed to stay in the saddle and after this she did not spook again. We had a nice canter along the point to point course, a highlight of our ride.
The route took us off the point to point course, up a lane and onto the common. There were people flying kites on top of the hill but luckily as we got there they were all grounded. Sarah and I cantered on along here to the end of the field. Once the other side of the gate I stopped Dawn so that she could watch as they let them fly up. She did not even flinch or try to turn around, just watched quietly as they all took flight.
The rest of the ride flew by with the sun shining on our backs, quite a contrast to the previous day. Down the last steep hill back onto the grassy track we had started from. Sarah went on at this point as she wanted to gallop the last stretch in but I did not want Dawn to get over excited so I held her back. We gently trotted in and crossed the line. Dawn felt fantastic as if she had not just done 31km.
A quick wash down and a moment to recuperate before heading off to vetting. I had 30 minutes, after crossing the finish line, to get Dawn’s pulse to under 64bpm. As we had come in quietly this was not a problem and we went into the vet gate after 20 minutes. Dawn finished on a pulse of 39bpm.
Considering this was Dawn’s second endurance ride, she had started with a pulse of 36bpm and an ending pulse of 39bpm at a speed of 11.7kph. With low pulses like this, Dawn is a star in the making. I cannot wait for the chance to ride her again!
Sue also had a good ride with Spider also gaining a grade 1! A good weekend all round!
Thank you Sue for letting me ride the lovely Dawn\1 And thank you Sarah for the wonderful company, see you at the next one ;)