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It’s all change here at Watergate Endurance!

Nothing with horses is ever simple.  After the Masters I religiously hosed Chiara’s right fore three times a day for a week then took her to the vet to have the leg scanned.  Even this didn’t go according to plan!  After trotting up and down on a hard surface, lunging her on both reins and flexion tests the right fore looked absolutely fine and if anything there was slight unevenness on her left fore.  The vet was then understandably reluctant to scan her.  On reflection I should have insisted.


Following this Chiara had another 10 days’ rest and then started work slowly.  In the meantime Fantom (having had Clarity added to his feed) appeared to have stopped coughing and looked really good so I lunged him a couple of times to make sure that sneaky cough didn’t creep back and had his shoes put back on.


I had a new aim now for Fantom; the National Championships to be held in Wales at the Red Dragon ride at the end of the month.  There was one little obstacle to this; I wasn’t qualified.  To qualify for the National Championships it’s necessary to successfully complete one competition of at least 80 km, but it needn’t be a race ride.  This left me with two possibilities: one ride on Dartmoor and one on the Somerset/Wiltshire border.


The first one, the Dartmoor ride, would have been pretty convenient for us but I was already booked!  It had to then be a ride, new to me, near Mere about 4 hours away.



I should explain that the Dartmoor ride hosted the Devon v Cornwall Challenge kindly sponsored by Feedmark.  This is a competition with 9 or 10 competitors on each team competing at various distances.  I had undertaken to organise this and had to do the scoring on the day as well as helping at the venue.  It was a good day weather-wise and the riders largely had the best of Dartmoor.  The competition was fierce going right to the wire – as the last horse was in the final vetting it could have gone either way but in the end Cornwall triumphed!



The following week we were off to Somerset and the Bonham ride staying overnight nearby with Fantom in a corral which he much prefers to a stable, and Robert and I sleeping in the Equi-trek.  Although 80 kms is a fair distance, this was a graded ride so the sense of urgency was much reduced and crewing, although needed to be good didn’t need to be razor sharp.  I did actually remember parts of the ride from a ride that used to run around here many years ago so it was a bit of a nostalgia trip.  The first loop passed quickly in the company of the three other riders in the class which suited Fantom well as he prefers to follow in the early stages.  After a speedy presentation to the vets at halfway we were soon on our way again with Fantom feeling keener the second time round and finishing with bags of energy to spare.



That outing not only qualified us for the National Championships, but gave me confidence that Fantom was indeed fit enough to contest the two day 160 km competition and, hopefully, be competitive.



I had planned to take the wonderful Dilmun to a local ride on the moors but my training endeavours for him did not hit the spot as Dil prefers now to just amble along gently, or not so gently, spooking at things rather than any serious training sessions.  This, therefore, was a plan I scrapped and have decided to just do the odd short pleasure ride with him and gentle hacks around the countryside.  After all, he is now 19 and has done so much in his endurance career so if he feels he would like to take it easy now, then I guess he’s earned it.


I’ve spent the last couple of weeks working both Chiara and Fantom but haven’t entered Chiara for the last 2* event of the season as I am still not convinced she is 100% sound.  I have had my physio out to look at both her and Fantom and am trying hard to get the saddle fitter to come and check their saddles (no luck yet).  New shoes on Tuesday followed by a trot up and I will decide then whether to enter the 2*.