Haywood Oaks, and Fantom’s attempt at gaining a 3* qualification, has now been and gone. The endurance gods were not smiling on us that day! After the start in the dark, Fantom began to settle into a steady canter mostly taking the lead but then disaster struck: a slip on the still-sticky earth and our race was over. It’s now time now to revert to Plan B.
In the meantime, Dilmun has recaptured centre stage. I learned yesterday that our entry for Royal Windsor 2* has been successful in the ballot so we’re in!!
Windsor is less than three weeks away and training is now in earnest. He is still a little too well-padded but just on target fitness-wise. At the weekend we completed a 50 kms ride successfully. Here we were aiming to keep a good, steady rhythm up and down the hills; this was somewhat hard to manage as many of the hills in the woods were pretty short and steep, both up and down, but we did our best to keep the speed even. A distance of 50 kms is probably one of the hardest on the horses as, although not a great distance, there are no breaks for food or rest just very quick crew stops along the way for water and cooling.
Dilmun’s training prior to this ride, involved a 20kms canter session at approximately 20kph over undulating grassland in the company of two other horses. Although he pulled his customary faces at the other horses, he managed this 20 kms followed by about 1 kms at a good gallop, with ease and a reasonably good recovery rate. This was followed a week later by another long canter session of 25 kms at just over 20kph and was rewarded by a much better recovery time and a much ‘keener’ horse.
Strengthening work has been done on the dunes where the demands of, firstly cantering uphill through deep sand repeated several times, then a few kms of cantering over undulating grass-covered dunes, can be quite challenging. Dilmun is not a fan of hills and finds this sort of work much harder than sustained cantering; nevertheless it is necessary for the all-round fitness required for the long race rides and to reduce the risk of injury by thorough conditioning.
Tomorrow Dilmun will have another long canter session aiming to complete 30kms at between 21 and 22 kph. He will continue to have three canter sessions a week plus some schooling in between and hopefully a session on the moors to complete his conditioning.
This week saw the arrival of a temporary ‘guest’ in the shape of Flo a foal who was born here four years ago and has come back to be started. Work has commenced almost straight away with Flo receiving her first pair of front shoes; her face was a picture afterwards as she was obviously bemused by the ‘clompy’ things on her feet.
Another bit of excitement is that I’m horse shopping again. I shall be looking for a youngster to bring on for WEG in 2018. Now this is a somewhat bold statement and relies on an awful lot of luck as well as hard work and finding the horse with the right attitude and conformation.
As to Fantom and ‘Plan B’ this is slightly uncertain, it may be the Golden Horseshoe National Championships or we may have another go at doing our 3* qualification at the end of May. Competing at Horseshoe will require a different form of training but this might well suit Fantom better, time will tell.
Mega thanks to Feedmark’s nutritionist, Olivia Colton, who designed a feeding regime for Fantom to ensure that he is settled and can work to the best of his ability.