Barik’s season has kicked off with a 50km round the Forest of Dean on 3rd March. He was extremely chilled out and started on a nice low heart rate. The course rode well as the recent rain had softened all the tracks up so Barik could trot along quite happily. He drank at every crew point, taking particular advantage of the sugar beet water – he loves that!! He cruised round really nicely with me riding on the buckle….until the last 15km that is. After a short canter his racing instinct came out. We motored along in canter on a fair few tracks, with him feeling very strong. Back at the venue and we vetted quickly due to cold with a nice low heart rate of 41bpm.
It was then off to Cannock Chase on 9th March for a 64km. Barik was once again very laid back. He has matured so much in this last year compared to the young racehorse I first brought out in 2010.
Off out onto loop number 1 with me in full waterproofs from head to toe. I rode in my Just Chaps waterproof trousers as the forecast was for rain with possible snow – we never saw any! Barik trotted round quite contently and felt great even over the stonier parts of the ride. We were joined for most of the ride by Rebecca Kinnarney and her mare. Her mare particularly wanted to race Barik and we did have moments of seeming to play leap frog. Although Barik kept his pace consistent and did not try to race. We did have a run in with a dog on loop 1. His owner had been calling with little effect and we could see it was trying to bite the heels of the horses in front. When it came near us I shouted at it, causing the dog to panic and run back (I had by then learnt its name was “Willow” from the failed attempts of the owner calling it back to heel). Rebecca had a good laugh at this.
The second loop Barik and I trotted round contently meeting our crew at varying check points. Up to loop 2 Barik had not drank much but then he doesn’t on only 20 miles so I wasn’t worried. The second loop we stopped at puddles to drink (extra nutrients!) as well as a stream and of course our trusty crew with the sugar beet. We did walk past a person leading his horse back to his yard. They had already completed the pleasure ride so rather than getting the trailer out he told me it was easier to take the short walk back along the chase. Barik and I jogged along happily and then we heard the yell “Loose horse!!”. We got out of the way as the horse was definitely not stopping. I rode back to the person and asked why they had not shouted for me to stop if he was in trouble, he assured me that he had not been the horse had just taken off with no warning. Walking along we called after this horse, named “Ashley”. The horse had slowed to a walk and eventually his owner managed to catch him, after telling me that whenever any of the riders fell off on the chase their horses always just took themselves off home (well at least they always found them I suppose).
After this little excitement we carried on back towards the venue, jumping over a log en route because we couldn’t be bothered to go round it (Barik is quite a versatile Arab) and crossed the finish line. Barik was washed down in warm water across the girth area and legs to remove the mud but otherwise he had not sweated up, hardly at all. He vetted well and had passed with a grade 2 at a very steady speed of 13.6kph.
I’m quite proud to see how well he has started this year with no venue excitement, good pulsing and eating and drinking well. Fingers crossed it will continue.