I cannot believe that Christmas is almost upon us. Is the Joppe household ready for the festivities and the guests and parties that go with it? Not a chance! I do, however, have an Advent calendar for the horses and some wonderful Herbalicious treats which I am afraid they have already started on.
The last few weeks have been spent working with the three horses in work. Fantom has gradually been brought back into work with the customary weeks of walking progressing to trotting and schooling. He has been doing some polework to check his straightness and his flexibility on circles. This he finds really easy and he has now moved onto slightly more complicated exercises and is walking and trotting slowly up and down gentle gradients and over more varied terrain. Wizard was initially going to do a bit of low key dressage but I found him to be a little stiff on circles so he is now on Opti Muscle and we will see how he improves. He is, of course, fine on straight lines and is so full of life and energy that he makes me smile. We have had a couple of canter sessions in the stubble fields which have been fun with Wizard trying out the odd exuberant buck (above)!
Chiara has been coming on in leaps and bounds (literally too!). She has calmed down a little and is now working fairly sensibly in walk and trot in the school and over the occasional pole on the ground. I have started to work on her canter transitions using poles in the corner of the school but this needs more work! It took me three tries before I managed to have a good canter session in the stubble fields with Chiara. The first time was just too windy and, after hacking round before even reaching the field she was just so wound up. The second time we had a lovely schooling session and decided to do half an hour gentle hack round the lanes before reaching the fields when, somewhat unexpectedly, we met the Hunt in its full glory around the bend in the road. So, so exciting (at least that’s what Chiara evidently thought) we spent the next 20 minutes cantering sideways all the way home. Still, third time lucky and we had a really good session with Chi listening to me and just gliding effortlessly over the ground. Yesterday Wizard and Chiara went to the south west endurance Christmas ride around the magical Lanhydrock Estate (below). I rode Chiara with my friend, Jo, riding Wizard. It was good fun, despite the going being so heavy after the last few weeks of almost endless rain. It was nice to ride around without pressure, walking over all the bad bits where we could have a natter, then a couple of glorious canters over the amazing parkland.
Both horses behaved impeccably until Wizard decided to stick his nose into one of the boxes of chocolates on offer around the course and throw all the chocolates into the mud (luckily they were wrapped ones) (above right). A few weeks ago I went to the Endurance GB AGM and Gala dinner which was really great fun (below). The AGM itself had such a good positive feeling and it is apparent that there is an exciting future ahead for endurance in this country. Looking back over this year, although we had a really poor result at the European Championships, this was the only negative occurrence.
Every other competition that any of the horses went to had a successful result. Wizard only did a pleasure ride, of course, but he enjoyed that and was successful; Dilmun successfully completed his last one day race ride in 4th place and enjoyed some lesser distance rides as well as being runner up in the veteran’s trophy at the SW awards; Chiara completed both her 1*s in fine style coming 5th in the best condition, and was runner up in the SW Glory trophy for the best horse in its first season of race rides; and Fantom came 3rd in the 1* at Windsor and got to meet the Queen. Apart from that one blip, it has been a pretty good, solid season with much to build on for 2018. Happy Christmas to everyone and a Happy New Year and thank you Feedmark for supporting me so well!