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Rest, Review, Plan and Prepare. - Annie Joppe

Winter is definitely here.  In the UK endurance is seasonal, confined to the spring, summer and early autumn.  Few of us are lucky enough to have horses to ride on the other side of the World so it is now a time to rest, review, plan and prepare.  Watergate Endurance is no exception. The resting part comprises of Dilmun and Fantom spending lazy days in the field, growing fatter and acquiring a liberal coating of mud, as extra insulation of course!  The humans go on holiday too, the annual trip to Portugal to do absolutely nothing (just like the horses but not for such a long time). Wiz long trot ANNIEJOPPE Wizard.[/caption] This leaves Chiara and Wizard who have actually increased their workload.  This is the time of year when the school is needed most; unfortunately it is also the time of year when it becomes covered in leaves which impairs its ability to drain the surface water accumulated from raining almost every day.  Whoever builds a school surrounded by tall, deciduous trees?! Wizard is now 20 years old and endurance-wise takes life a little easier.  He takes ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips for his joints and Opti Muscle to keep him supple.  To keep him interested during the winter, a dressage outing or two are planned and a little practice in the school is useful.  A schooling session twice a week interspersed with hacking and the occasional gallop in the huge fallow field over the lane from the yard keeps him happy.  Next weekend he will get ‘all dressed up’ for Christmas and attend a Christmas pleasure ride of 16 kms as an escort to young Chiara. My attention has now turned to Chiara who still has so much to learn.  Throughout the winter it is schooling time; endeavouring to establish basic flatwork, possibly with a dressage test for her to do later.  At present we are concentrating on walk and trot, especially rhythm and transitions with a little pole work included for variety and to get her attention which sometimes falters when she sees the gorgeous Dilmun in a nearby field watching her – such a prima donna! Once we have the walk and trot established (including free walk which she thinks is a cue for marching at 100 miles an hour!) we will perhaps attempt an intro test. [caption id="attachment_10261" align="alignright" width="300"]Chiara dec 2015 ANNIEJOPPE Chiara[/caption] Chiara is also hacking out on her own regularly.  This can be an exciting experience in the high winds we have been experiencing almost every day for the last few weeks.  However, she is gaining an enormous amount of confidence from this as she sees so many different things and just has to get on with it.  We have even opened our first gate! When Chiara first came to me she didn’t have the hardest of Arab feet and would pick her way carefully over hard tracks.  She has now been on Hardy Hoof for the last four months and she now has harder feet than both Wizard and Dilmun and can happily trot over a variety of terrain. Next week is MOT time.  Vaccinations are due for Dilmun, Wizard and Chiara and it’s teeth time for all four as well as wormers.  I am very pleased to have found a new equine sports massage lady who will sponsor me for 2016 and all the horses will benefit from having regular sessions with her, an essential requirement for any competition horse. The Endurance GB AGM and awards dinner have been and gone and unfortunately this year I was unable to attend but, by all accounts, it was a good bash and a new, streamlined Board was elected.  Hopefully there will now be more involvement by the members enabling endurance to move ahead and increase participation in this popular sport. Plans for 2016 are still very fluid.  As my main aim is to offer at least one if not two horses for selection for the 2018 WEG at Bromont, it is necessary to see what qualification changes will be approved by the FEI.  In the meantime there is, of course, the World Endurance Championships scheduled to take place in the UAE in December and the 2017 European Championships in Belgium in between.