Despite the first ride of the season being cancelled due to horrible weather, the season has otherwise got off to a flying start.
4/5 March - I travelled down to the Forest of Dean to compete in the 40km class at March Hares on Druimghigha Lantana. The day before the comp I went to Andrea's, Lantana's owner, house to go out for a little trial ride. Everything went smoothly and I was so looking forward to Sunday. Sadly, on Sunday morning, after a night of very heavy rain, the ride organisers made the difficult decision to cancel! Such a shame!
11th March - Cannock Chase was Chip's first graded ride since his injury at Kings Forest in April 2015 but mostly this was to be a fittening ride, a fortnight ahead of his first 80km. I made the decision to put pads on him in advance of Cannock because I know its quite a stony ride. I'm glad I did because we were able to move around the route beautifully though faster than I had planned for as he was really quite keen! I wanted to practice presenting to the vet quickly as he would need to do his first vet gate at Concrete Cows so we didn't wait at the end and went more or less straight into vetting with a final heart rate of 48! I was super pleased :)
19th/20th March - Not a strictly horse affair but nonetheless its cool so it should go in the blog! On Saturday it was the rowing inter-university varisty event - we won! Really great as we'd all been training very hard! Not only did we win our individual race, Sheff Uni rowing won overall, and then Sheff Uni won the entire event - for the 5th year running!
On the Sunday I took Chip to the Northern Racing College to use the gallops for his final canter work ahead of his 80km at Concrete Cows. I didn't really go with a particular plan - bad I know - but I decided to just do an hour and go with what we felt. So we got in some lovely long continuous canters with a few bursts and then finished off with a little trot around off course and through a stream to cool off his legs. I rode with a HR monitor on as always but I wanted to replicate ride conditions so I trotted straight to the trailer so see how quickly his heart would drop at the end. After an hour on the gallop, his HR was 63 after 30 secs standing at the trailer with no water!! I was VERY please with this! Chip was very annoying on the ground at the end of the session seemingly not tired in the least which was all good news ahead of the 80km.
26th March - D-Day ahaha . So after all the training and prep for the 80km I was gutted to discover we were going to have to do the whole thing on our own! Also, I'd decided to travel from Sheffield down to the ride on the morning so as to not upset Chip's routine too much - but I hadn't accounted for the clock change! So the 3.45am alarm was actually 2.45! Rather too early for my liking but that's hindsight for you! Anyway, the day went soooo well. As it was his first 80km I didn't want to rush and just tried to keep up steady canters and medium trots the whole way round with lots of time at the crew points. There's a compulsory walk section between the S/F and the actual venue so in the hold I decided to get off and walk with him but he was rather annoying and jogged excitedly! Anyway, we took the saddle off and went straight into vetting with no water on for a HR of 56 in under a minute so that was great! At the end his HR was 45, apparently one beat off a Grade 1! But I wasn't worried about that. He finished up with all As and 1s all day on his first 80km, which we did all alone the whole day and were awarded Best Condition! Couldn't be happier with him!
April's plan is quite sparse - time for my dissertation!!
I've got some canter training with West Riding EGB group on the 9th at NRC again with Chip which will be the first proper session back after Concrete Cows. Over Easter weekend I'm heading to Kings Forest and taking Chip for the ADR East Egg Hunt of 16km haha which will be a nice change from serious competition for him! On the Sunday I'm entered in the CEI2* with Druimghigha Luxor so I'm sooo excited for that! The next weekend I'm off to crew a 64km at Wykeham, which is a ride I've not attended before so that will be nice to go somewhere new! The final weekend of the month is BUCS - the biggest rowing race of our year so that will be a no horses weekend!
Wishing everyone an enjoyable April :)