Wow what a season. Too busy to even write the blog. Well where to start …
BARBURY CASTLE, GB 2* 120KMS – ASHIRTA
Our two new arrivals from Argentina – Ashirta and 42 who renamed Bonita have had a great start to their UK careers. After several training and Competitive rides we aimed Ashirta at her first 2* 120kms at Barbury Castle. Unfortunately we were out with marginal lameness at the last vet gate – so marginal that the vet couldn’t tell us which leg and the treatment vet couldn’t see anything at all ! That’s endurance. However she coped admirably with the hills that she is not used to and the utterly vile English weather that she was absolutely not used to, and went back happily to her stable blissfully unaware that she had escaped the last 20kms. I am really excited about getting out and about with her next year.
LM 42 – BONITA AND THE 3* 160 KMS GB DEVELOPMENT SQUAD RIDE AT LEERSUM, NL
Bonita (42) was aimed slightly higher and we had the wonderful opportunity to go with the GB Development Squad to Leersum in Holland to try her first 3* 160kms. We had a really fun week making new friends, and having a great time with old friends. We rode the forests, and had wonderful evenings together and generally chilled out waiting for ride day. The Development Squad management team were brilliant and so supportive, and I cannot thank the entire team enough. Ride day came and none of us were prepared for how the sandy the actual course would be. We were all so disappointed when Sue and Louise Rich went out for rider illness, then horse not being quite right, shortly followed by Annie Joppe out. This left only Robert Newall and Lottie who were going great guns and ourselves. I had taken the decision to take it really steady in the sandy going and although slow we were successful, not only completing but coming in 7th. Bonita was a total star and despite a slightly unscheduled dismount on loop 1 (!) we had a wonderful time together, riding the majority of the ride on our own and doing the last loop in the dark. She coped with the hot and stuffy forests, the sandy going and the distance. I am delighted with her and cannot wait to get out next year.
KINGS FOREST, GB – 3* 160KMS
As with all Highs come the Lows. Kings Forest and the national championships were not to be for myself and Crazy Girl. Our first competition together and we had aimed at the 160kms on what was probably the hottest day of the year. After managing to get round the entire 160kms we were out lame at the final vetting. Aaaarrrrgghhhh ! Endurance …
TEVIS, USA – 100 MILES – THE WORLDS TOUGHEST ENDURANCE RIDE
Next up the week after Kings came TEVIS – the World’s Toughest Endurance Ride. I was so excited at the opportunity to go and do this ride in the USA and if you google the Tevis Cup or look at You Tube you will see why. The opportunity to ride these mountains and natural obstacles is just amazing. Not least for me to be able to do this on my very own Cleopatrah. The ride is really really tough. Not only is hot and dusty, some 120 degrees at the top of the canyons, heavens knows what the temperature was at the bottom, but there are seriously sheer climbs both up and down, rocks and boulders to scramble over, hairily narrow paths up the hillsides – one of which we nearly slipped down and over the edge when the riders higher up stopped suddenly – realy heart in the mouth moment and only saved by a superhuman or superhorse effort from Cleo who literally bunched her legs underneath her and launched back up over the boulder we had slipped down. From that to the suspension bridge, and the canyons. As you can imagine I was totally gutted to be out lame at Franciscos – 25 miles from the finish. Cleo trotted into the vet gate just fine having ridden the mountain ridges in the dark under the moonlight, with the river glowing below us, we went into the vet gate and I immediately felt the nodding on the lead rope and that was it – Tevis was over for me. I didn’t get to do the river crossing all lit up by glo sticks to show the shallowest section nor do we ride over No Hands Bridge or into the Auburn stadium – but hey it’s there for next time – everyone needs a challenge and for me , Tevis is it. I am desperate to go back next year and have another go. We had made excellent time and thankfully the bump to Cleo’s leg soon went down and must have either been when we slipped on the boulder or a rock bouncing onto us later on. Most importantly we were both absolutely fine and ready to go another time.
I can’t thank our USA gang of Heather and Jeremy Reynolds of Reynolds Racing enough for all the work and the help they have given us, and the huge crew team – far too many to mention, but as always the wonderful support of Skip and Lynn, and of course long standing endurance side kick my fabulous husband Andy.