End of the endurance season and what a year it has been. Here’s a catch up on the last two rides:
On the 5th October I rode Bright Dawn in the 42km Novice at Red Dragon. Red Dragon runs across the welsh mountains, starting from the Builth Wells Showground. It had rained all week prior but the weather managed to brighten up for the weekend. Sue Loveridge (Dawn’s owner) also rode her advanced horse Siiberia aka Spyder to accompany us.
Both horses stayed over the night before. This was the first time Dawn has stayed away from home and she was a little bit excited by the time I arrived. Vetting was in one of the large barns which created a loud echo for any horse doing its trot up. Dawn behaved impeccably, although her heart rate was a little more elevated than any of her previous starts at a ride.
This ride took us over the welsh mountains near Builth Wells with some route changes which improved the course from previous years. However, part of the new route was very slippy and muddy which required us to walk or jog for about 10km with water hanging in places. Unfortunately at some point along this part of the route Spyder lost a shoe. We followed the route down the mountain and once we found the road I went on to the next check point whilst Sue got off and walked him.
Dawn was a star and only stopped once when we rounded the first corner and she realised Spyder wasn’t following. Once reassured she went on without a problem. The route took us around the local lanes, to the check point and then onwards up the mountain. The route back across the mountain was good-going and nothing but grass so we cantered the entire way, until joining back up with the start of the course and heading back down towards the showground. I dismounted here and we jogged down with Dawn trotting at my side. She kept pace with me and did not pull or trample me at all so I was very impressed.
Back at the venue and once cooled down we headed to vetting. I met Sue on the way who filled me in on how Spyder had escaped her after we had carried on but had been caught by a local and was safely in a stable. Both Spyder and Sue were uninjured but it was quite a shock to hear that Spyder had tried to follow us.
Dawn vetted fine and achieved another grade 1! So Dawn’s first competitive season and she’s achieved grade 1’s at every ride, what a star! Dawn also combated her fear of water too with only a hesitation at the small first stream but after that lead the way through every water logged parts of the tracks on course. Roll on next season when I hope to be able to ride her again.
I was supposed to take Barik on the 40km the following day on the Sunday but due to the course being quite tricky in places I decided to save Barik for the following weekend.
New Park Rufus
It was an early morning start for the drive to Hampshire on 13th October. Barik and I would be riding in the 64km class at the Rufus Ride.
Barik vetted fine and we tacked up to head out on the first loop with Katie Bedwin and Elayla who were also doing the 64km. It was supposed to rain all day so we were both in full waterproofs, needless to say we were very warm in all our layers. It did not rain at all the first loop but the ground conditions were very slippy with mud and were also deep in places.
The first loop was quite eventful with us loosing our way and joining up with a group of 80km riders who had got lost as well and gone miles out of their way. Doubling back, we all found the route we should have been on. About 10km into the loop, my girth buckle came straight off in my hand when I went to tighten the girth. We carried on with one buckle one side and two on the other until the first crew point where I could change my girth.
The marking further on did not improve. We found that at certain points there would be plenty of markers for a couple of kilometres and then they would disappear or have one or two in places for another further few kilometres. I was glad to be riding with Katie who had ridden the route previously and could remember roughly where the course was supposed to take us. 10km before the end of the first loop and we were trotting along in front only to suddenly sick in deep mud. Barik lost a shoe here so I pulled up to put an Easyboot on to get us back to the venue. I asked my Gran, at the next crew point, to speak to the farrier when she got back.
Once back at the venue, we went straight to the farrier to get his shoe put back on and then into vetting. A mare was calling in the vet hold, which set Barik off calling in answer, and fidgeting a lot which was completely out of character for him as he is normally so quiet. This led to a heart rate of 64bpm but at least it was a pass and we didn’t have to have a second veterinary inspection.
The rain started during our vet hold so I was mighty glad to get back out on course as it was very cold. The second loop was much better marked as someone had been out and remarked sections of the route and put signs out for the cutoffs.
Katie had left a few minutes in front of me but the ground conditions of the first half this loop were good so we were able to canter on. I caught her up and we completed the rest of the ride together in the rain but we did not let this dampen our spirits too much.
At the final vetting Barik was a bit better behaved although still fidgety. His heart rate was ok but we still only had a grade 3.
And so ends the 2013 season. However, Barik, Shandy and Dawn all have winter schooling which my local Endurance group, Offas Dyke hold every year. This should keep our weekends busy as long as it does not snow.