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!!