Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spring Update!

Well, since the Jubilee Trail in Dorset last month, things have been pretty quiet on the competition front. We were going to do Lulworth Castle in Dorset on 15th April, but it was sadly cancelled. Work has been mad, but still trying to get out on Merl as much as possible. He is living out full time now and it has had 2 effects: Firsty, he is less stiff and his paces seem to have really come on, but then that maybe the improvement in strength through the extra miles also, plus the good work done by his McTimoney Practitioner earlier in the year has done him the world of good...thanks Grace!! Secondly, he has gone quite mad on the spring grass!! We have had napping outbreaks, super spooks and 'airs above the ground' whilst out hacking....the sticky in my sticky-bums jods has been seriously challenged!!

So, May is rather busy, with our attending the Abbotts Ann Sponsored ride near Andover, Hampshire on 7th May, and another 10 mile ride on 26th May in Collingbourne Woods just 20 mins away in Guinevere. Its nice to get out in an atmoshpere and challenge ourselves over new terrain, good practice for our next big ride in June, Three Rivers!! This ride has its own website within Endurance GB and is located near Rockbourne, Salisbury. We are doing a Competitive Ride at 32kms, really hoping for a good completion to go in his logbook. My friends from Dorset sadly cannot make this one so we are going it alone, which is a little scary as we haven't gone out alone since Stoney Cross in February and that didn't go so well.....still, positive thought!! We have done loads together since then, and tomorrow we are having a flatwork lesson with a dreassge instructor to help with our schooling and strength, so watch this space.....

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Second ride...much better!! The Jubilee Trail ride, Dorset

If you read my last blog, you will see how i was none to keen to enter another ride with Merl. We had meant to enter the 36km Competitive Ride (CR) in Dorset but i cancelled it. Partly because being back at work had taken away time to train Merlin and partly because the last outing had really knocked my confidence in Merlin and myself. Work was really getting me it was with surprise that i recieved a facebook message from Anna, the lady i had made friends with at Stoney Cross, and Nora her friend. They too had entered the Jubilee Trail Ride in Dorset but had had to downgrade from the 36kms to the 24km Pleaseure Ride as they had also struggled to get the training in with their horses, and was i coming too?? I sat and spoke at length to PH, who urged me to go, he would look after GB for the day and i should go do it and see how it went. And so i said yes! First thing next day had me doing some mega-chilled loading practice with Merlin, which went well and i vowed to stay uber chilled and just treat the day as a training outing.

Sunday 11th March dawned with a gloroius sunny start, so i knew it was going to be a great day! I was all alone this time, so just me and Merin to worry about, He loaded and off we went, a long drive from Collingbourne, Wiltshire, to Dorchester in Dorset. Beautiful sunny weather, Merlin loved my singing of 'ten green haynets' on duller stretches of road and all was well, venue was easy to find and we pulled up at the same time as Anna and Nora, who we were going to be riding with. Merlin was much more chilled and we unloaded and vetted straight away. Merl's heartrate was 46bpm, much slower than last time. We tacked up, handed in time sheets and were away, onto some of the most beautiful riding in the UK i should think. Chalky downs, coastal paths and some stunning grassy canters, it was a mega ride! Merlin stayed calmer, but was still very keen and led most of the way, all trot and canter for 24km. It was not a CR, but even so Merl needed to pass a trot up afterwards which he did, and his heartrate was taken, 47bpm! Merl was ace, loaded to go home then turned out. Completely sound the next day. It should be noted that Merlin last received a hardfeed in November 2011!! He is trained and competes off hay and grass only, and i think as you will see by the pics, looks utterly fab! Roll on the next ride next month!! Maybe we can do this after all....many thanks to my great husband for holding the fort and all my friends for all your continuing help and support.

First ride...bit of a disaster!!

Well, first ride day arrived, its taken ages to update this blog because until recently, i didnt think that we were going to continue in our endurance mission :(. The morning was complete chaos as i'd been at work all week and hadnt had any time to prepare like i thought i was going to be able to. Work had also been pants, being away from GB was very, very hard. My friend Mairi-Claire was meant to be turning up to help me as we were leaving at 8am, but it was quarter to and she still hadnt arrived.....and worse, it was windy and rainy...and cold! Pah! Anyway, friend arrived and we got loaded up and were on our way to  the New Forest to take part in the Silver Gambler ride run by Mid-South Endurance Group. We got a bit lost when actually down in the forest but eventually we were parked up, on possibly the windiest field ever, surrounded by wild New Forest ponies milling about! well, it was all too much for young Merlin who promptly had a meltdown. We couldnt tack him up, by the time we did his heartrate was through the roof for the initial vetting and as we left the venue, alone into the lashing wind and rain, i knew it wasnt going to be fun! We trotted down a long forest road and almost immediately we were lost. The map didnt seem to add up and after a very wound up Merlin had reared and spun a few times in order to try and join some wild ponies, i just chose a track and trotted/bounced/bucked up it. Luckily it turned out to be the right one and we saw some horses up ahead, well Merl did and proceeded to tank off after them. It really blew his mind being alone in all this wind in open country with wild ponies and donkeys everywhere and i was so wound up that i wasnt alot of help to him, sadly.

We came to a tunnel (yes a the Forest!) and i knew Merl just wasnt going to go through without a meltdown.....right on cue a herd of wild ponies cantered towards us through the tunnel, hooves echoing spookily (if your Merlin) and that was it, exit stage left the palomino!! After 300 metres or so i managed to pull Merl up, but all attempts at getting him to the tunnel were met with half-rears of protest and much spinning. A group of other endurance riders then appeared through the tunnel and i asked them to give me a lead through, which they did without hesitation and we were away again. Kind when the horses left Merl again he went a bit mad and i had to take him out of sight, next to a lake. And here we found salvation, in the form of Nora and Anna with their horses Rosie and Juniblest. Far more experienced in endurance, they kindly let me and Merl join them and off we went over 22km of ride, trotting and cantering the whole way. I honestly thought Merlin wouldn't be able to hold the pace but he did, pulling like a train the whole way but at least settling into it by the last 5km. Back at the venue Merlin vetted sound with a heartrate of 60bpm, he was still wired. Then came the time to load him, Merlin had other ideas! Again, i was very stressed and i think Merl picked up on this, he just refused to budge, which he had never done before. Endurance being the wonderful, friendly sport that it is, i had 2 kind ladies  with a Parelli halter and alot of patience by our side in minutes and Merl loaded, stress free, 20 minutes later. I vow to look into Parelli and have a serious think about ever taking Merl out again!!

Friday, 17 February 2012

First Ride Eve

Tis' the day before lift off! Finally got ride information through, am i alone in thinking that 3 days before the ride is leaving it a little late? This afternoon will be used for fuelling up the lorry, packing water etc into the box, grooming Merlin to within an inch of his life, sorting tack and cleaning it, working out what i am going to wear (God knows....) and getting a weather forecast so that i can pack rugs etc if i need to. My friend Mairi-Claire is coming in the box with me and together we are meeting PH at the venue, they are to be my 'crew.' Exciting stuff!!

GB is having a lovely day with Granny tomorrow, he has been most laid back about my return to work this week, at home with daddy and getting to know his new nanny and her little boy; they are going to get into so much mischief together! GB is in great hands tomorrow so no need to worry (though i still will, of course).

Did a dry run with the box last weekend, loaded Merl up and took him out for a spin to get him used to it, and more importantly perhaps, me used to driving the box with precious cargo in it! We did ok....i think my max speed was 18mph, so may take a long time to get to the venue tomorrow.....i have allowed 2 hours for a 50 minute trip! Watch this space.........

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Nerves....and dodgy weather

Our first event is next weekend in the New Forset and i think that we are about as ready as we can be, bearing in the mind that the weather has stopped play a little over the last week. Merlin lives on a windy hillside in Wiltshire and the temperature is always a couple of degrees colder there with added windchill factor, plus seems to hang onto snow and ice a little longer! We got out for a fun, if bracing hack on Saturday and did lots of working trot uphill which Merlin coped with wonderfuly. Lats nights schooling session was dreamlike - since having his back and withers worked on he seems so much more comfortable, his tail is loose and swinging and he is searching down for the bit again, am so pleased!

A little worried with Endurance Mid-South's admin, still no ride information sent out despite it being next week, have no idea where to go or when i start and doubt i am the only one in this position. Hopefully something will arrive in the post today, it has put me off wanting to compete in the series this year, need to know where we stand. In contrast, i have entered us in the Wessex Jubilee Trail ride in Dorset for next month and was immediately given ride confirmation! Hmmmmm.....

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

3 weeks and counting

Its 3 weeks until our first event so starting to work through a mental checklist of things to get prepared. Drove the lorry back from the New Forest the other day and it seems to be driving much better and the brakes even work, which is a bonus! I am going to put Merlin up on it for a look this weekend and probably take him out for a little ride to get him used to it.

Merlin had his back therapy session from Grace Maxwell, a McTimoney Practitioner from lovely Ireland. She spent ages with him and took a very detalied history before putting him through his paces and getting to work. No serious problems were found, but she did go straight to a sore bit where the new saddle hadn't agreed with him, as suspected. She also did some re-alignment work around his withers and showed me some stretches i could do myself to help him along. He was given a clean bill of health and will be visited again in 6 months for another check as it will be the middle of the season. I was advised to get a fitter to look at his saddle for possible reflocking which i will get onto right away; it fits weel but Merlin has matured and changed shape so makes sense. I recommend anybody approaching the coming season to have a practiotioner look at their horses back as i have done, we ask alot of our friends and they carry us for many miles, makes sense to be sure that they are comfy.

If you live in the Wiltshire/West Hampshire area then i thouroughly recommend Grace Maxwell, she is a fountain of useful knowledge and gifted with the horses, her website is

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Progress.....nearly February!

Well, its been a busy week. Received news that the box is all repaired and i can go and collect it as well as relieving myself of £800....nice. Still, won't be much of a contender in rides if we can't even get there, so will be glad to have 'Guinevere' home.

Merlin seems to have had a leap forward in the fitness stakes. Went out for 1 1/2 hour hill session on Sunday and he was fab, really lively and a bit naughty/joggy, but in a nice way, just feeling good in himself and telling me 'mum, this is easy peasy! Find me a bigger hill!' He had a day off the next day and then a schooling session that went ok and a hard lunge session last night with lots of trot/canter. He aced it last night and wasn't even breathing hard despite me holding him out there for 15 minutes of fast work each side. He can have tonight off as i am off to see 'Warhorse' with PH, but he will be back out there with 3 solid days of long slow work/hills/faster hack on Sunday.

Merlin has the physio on Saturday; turns out the work he did in the Torsion ssaddle didn't do him any favours, as i suspected, and he is a little sore and tight behind the shoulders in my opinion. Coincides with where the stirrups would have sat so makes sense. I am sure Grace will work her magic!!