Sue Loveridge, owner of Bright Dawn, asked me to ride her little mare once again but this time we would be attempting Dawn’s first 40km.
The 40km would consist of two loops; the green loop of 30km and then continuing on to the brown loop of 10km.
I met up with Sue and Dawn at the venue in time to head off for vetting as Sue had already registered us that morning. Dawn once again had a nice low pulse in the lower 30’s and trotted up like a pro! First vetting was passed and we could start the 40km.
Once tacked up we headed to the starting line to leave the venue. Normally you are only counted down to start on a race ride or FEI but unusually the starting person counted us down and would not let us leave until exactly on the minute. This did leave Dawn feeling quite frustrated as she wanted to go and catch up with those who had just left. As soon as the minute had ticked and we could go, Dawn went out at a strong extended trot, followed by breaking into canter but at least there were no bucks this time.
We caught up with a pair of riders who had left just in front of us at the start. Once we had overtaken them, Dawn settled down into an easy pace and we trotted our way into the first crew point. Sue met us with a slosh and Dawn stood still whilst I poured it over her. This was only the second ride she had ever had sloshes before but she is a horse which seems to take most things in her stride.
We continued on, meeting Sue at various crew points along the route which consisted mostly of grassy tracks with some road work and there were also water points within the park so we had plenty more sloshes on route. There was a point half way around the 30km loop where we had to cross a ford. This was one thing that Dawn did not like. The riders who we had been behind had gone through no problem but Dawn did not follow. The other riders had carried on but must have noticed we were not behind as they came back to check we were alright. Despite trying to give Dawn a lead through she would not follow, so we went across the foot bridge instead (water is certainly one thing we’ll have to practise in case it comes up in a ride again).
Dawn completed the green loop easily and we cantered down the finish and past the venue to go out on the brown loop. The brown loop followed a route through the park and crisscrossed parts of the green loop before rejoining all routes to head back into the venue. Cirencester is always very well marked even with multiple loops so it is hard to get lost!
Dawn and I trotted in at the finish to cross the line. According to my GPS the route had actually been longer and read 44km.
Dawn passed her final vetting with a low pulse in the 30s once again and achieving her first 40km and another grade 1!
The third day of Cirencester Park. As Barik is not back in action yet I had entered Chador (aka Shandy) to do a Pleasure Ride 30km. Shandy has always raced either nationally or at FEI level at Cirencester so I knew she would be all too keen to be back at her favourite ride.
We would follow the green loop which would be the same loop as I had done with Dawn on the Friday.
Shandy passed initial vetting so we could start. Once again we were counted down at the start, this hyped Shandy up a lot although we were able to keep all four feet on the floor for once (never before been able to do that at Cirencester!).
Shandy left the start at a large extended trot, before picking up canter. She felt great and I was thrilled to able to be riding her again at Cirencester Park even if it was not in a race.
Even though there has been some route changes compared with previous years, we still cover parts of the old route. I’m sure Shandy remembered where to turn at certain areas as I she would slow up before a corner or do a flying change to the right lead without so much as a prompt.
We completed the loop easily and cantered down to the finish just for the fun of it!
Long Mynd 8th September
I had entered Shandy in for the 30km pleasure ride here but decided I would change horses and enter Barik to give him a leg stretch. This would be the first ride out since his 160km. After speaking with my friend Jo, whilst training her eventer and show jumper, I offered her the chance to ride Shandy in 30km. This would be Jo’s first taste at endurance!
Jo met up with us at the venue as she lived close by and we headed down to vetting. I talked Jo through the procedure and as this was just a pleasure ride she would only need to trot up. Both horses were fine to start.
I rode this ride last year so I knew once we were up on the Mynd we could canter along the top. I did pre-warn Jo that Shandy might throw in the odd buck when we initially went into canter (which she did). Shandy loves her speed and so does Jo so they were perfectly compatible together. Barik was super keen to whiz along and make sure to give Shandy some competition.
Unfortunately, at one point we did miss the markers through a field and had to double where we met up with some other riders who had done the exact same thing. We were pointed in the right direction by the gate steward so were back on track.
The rest of the route rode well with both horses feeling great. We were back at the venue just in time for the heavens to open and us to get soaked. It was a quick wash off for both horses and rugs put on so they would not get cold before going to vetting. Shandy and Barik both passed the vetting, with two pleased riders.