Well I haven’t ridden now for about 5 weeks as I decided to give all the horses a break after a busy season. All shoes have been removed and they are out 24/7 in the fields finishing up the last of the season’s grass before winter arrives.
This is the time for all those jobs that you simply don’t have time for when the horses are in work. This includes, to my delight, a revamping and extending of my tiny tack room. Luckily just before the Europeans I went through all my equipment, sorting and dusting off the thick black cobwebs that seem to congregate in dark, hidden corners. Now that the extension has been completed I am just waiting for the husband to put up some more hooks and shelves for me and to run the electricity in for my kettle and music. I may even have the luxury of having an old washing machine plumbed in somewhere to save my poor household one from overuse and the dreaded horse hair!
The horses are very much in a state of ‘au natural’; their manes are wild and muddy, especially Dilmun’s, their tails keep gathering twigs and leaves and they are liberally coated in mud. Dilmun, especially, has made it his mission to cover every available body part in thick, dark mud but even this doesn’t hide his ever-growing grass belly. I think I will have some work to do before training recommences and the winter routine begins.
I must confess I felt a little pang of regret that I did not go to the Red Dragon ride this year as it is the last major ride of the endurance season in this country. This year saw the hosting of the Endurance GB National Championships with the introduction of three other layers of Championships, at novice, open and advanced. I understand, however, that the weather was dire on the Saturday and the going consequently deep and slippery on the Sunday so a true test of endurance.
I am looking forward to next week when Wizard and Chiara have their shoes put back on and work recommences. The ancient Wizard will start his winter regime of light hacking and maybe a little dressage again (if he behaves!). I feel it is important for him to do light work over the colder, damper months now that he is getting on a bit just to keep the old joints free and supple. Ideally, he would live out all the time in the winter but he, unlike the other three, actually prefers to come in at night in the winter and be cuddled up in his stable. To help keep him supple he has ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips daily and a little Opti Muscle as he has experienced some muscle tightness in the past.
Dilmun, much against his wishes, will come in at night too as he gets sensitive skin in the wet and muddy conditions of winter but generally it is easy enough to manage with a 50/50 in/out regime. He, too, benefits from ExtraFlex as well as his Gastric Comfort to prevent the return of gastric issues which he is rather prone to.
Fantom and Chiara are much happier with 24/7 access to the field and they will share the largest field with a good field shelter over the winter. Chiara will come into work too after her holiday and I plan to work on her schooling with regard to rhythm and balance especially in canter. She also needs to experience more natural and manmade hazards so we will be out and about.
Already both the FEI and Endurance GB calendars for next year are filling up with events. Plans are now starting to be formed for all the horses. My main focus next year will be on Chiara’s progression to, hopefully, the elusive 3* 160kms qualification with a view to the Europeans in 2019. I would like Fantom to do another 3* too and, without selection pressure, be as competitive as possible, now this would be nice if it could be combined with the national championships…