Race report - kings forest 160km
I had a busy weekend at the summer edition of the Kings Forest ride as I took both Chip and Spice to compete. Chip in the CEI3* 160km on Saturday and Spice to start his career with his very first ride, a 40km GER on the Sunday.
As there’s such a lot to say, I’ve decided to split the weekend into two blogs – so this is Chippy’s blog!
If you’ve been following my journey/reading my blogs for a while, you’ll know that I have been trying to complete mine and Chip’s first 3* for a number of years. We’ve now had three failed attempts and two Covid cancellations.
Last year we perhaps got the closest we’ve come, getting to 140km of the 160km at Windsor 2021 until he trotted up lame in the compulsory re-exam – which was a major team error as we hadn’t remembered to pick his feet out and he had a huge stone wedged between his shoe and frog. I think it’s quite safe to say that I felt very traumatized by this event and you can read the Windsor blog back to see how I felt about it all. In short, I had lost my way with the sport and felt like giving up altogether.
As time past, and after my horrendous injury in August 2021, I slowly but surely found my love for the sport returning and I began the 2022 season in a really positive place mentally.
In the past I have trained hard coming out of winter ready to hit the ground running but this year I decided against training in bad weather and chose instead to be kind to myself and give myself a light and fun goal of a national 80km CER at the Spring Kings in April. You can read that blog here but we WON and had such an incredibly fun day. I really didn’t get stressed and it was a great opportunity to test how my leg would hold up, what it would be like riding in long riding boots (to protect my damaged calf) and also my new hippie stance of Chip being barefoot. I did promise to write a separate blog about that too so as not to hijack other blogs and I still haven’t quite got round to it!
With the confidence of an easy breezy 80km at 16kmph I knew that we only had a little bit more to do between April and the end of June to run a 160km. My training plan was two 60km training rides (one 6 weeks before & one 3 weeks before) and in between gallops, canter work, schooling, poles, in-hand work and plenty of rest.
The 6 weeks out training ride I went a bit rogue and went somewhere I have never ridden before. This is NOT my usual strategy as I really like to plan and know what I’m going to get BUT in 2022 I’m trying to mix things up a bit, not put so much pressure on myself and importantly really enjoy what I’m doing.
So this training ended up being just an hour away from home and it didn’t end up being as fast as I had planned. I parked up at the gallops and did 30km on there before both Chip and I lost the will to live going round and round and round so then we went off to do 30km out in the Oxfordshire/Northants countryside. There were far too many gates and lots of stony tracks. It meant for slow going but it was a great opportunity to test once again how those little bare feet would cope and I do believe in ‘time in the saddle’ training just as much as speed training.
The other 60km was more of a like-for-like training as I actually went to Kings Forest itself to do that one. However, it was pouring it down with rain and well – the tracks were bloomin lovely and beyond perfect. That was the last rainfall that was in the area ☹ which meant when race day came around we were faced with significantly more concussive ground than I had in my training.
One of the things I really factored into this training cycle was including a lot more trot. I’m not a huge fan of the gait as a whole but I knew that the Spring Kings 160km hadn’t ridden fast and I was prepared for the possibility of ending up alone in the race or riding with other Brits who have a propensity to trot more than canter.
Of course, I still did plenty of canter work but whereas I would try to exclusively canter and walk and keep trot to an absolute minimum, I actively included trot work into the training. Seems odd to read and even to write down but I guess if you get it, you get it ;D
At Spring Kings Chip only got a B for action at the end of the 80km. Whilst a pass is a pass, I knew that a B at 80km wasn’t going to get me through a 160km so we went to the vets at the end of April. I take Chip every year, usually at the start of the season so this visit was later than usual anyway.
As I have owned Chip now for 7 years, I have over the years had nearly every part of him x-rayed or scanned at some point so we do have baseline data for Chip. For the last 4 years he has also been on the lameness locator which is a computer gait analysis machine which gives us completely objective data to compare his movement.
I guess the most interesting thing is that over the years his gait hasn’t got worse (or better) and given that he is ageing that is of course a good thing! This year, despite being barefoot for the first time on the lameness locator, there was still no divergence from his ‘normal’.
Chip does struggle with joint degeneration in his fetlocks and also impinging spinous processes (kissing spine). These were discovered as part of performance diagnostic rather than actual lameness exam and so we have caught everything early with him which is why I believe I have been able to maintain no further degeneration over the years.
His kissing spine has been managed entirely holistically with sympathetic training and management. Whilst in 2020 for the first time we administered osphos (via the glute) and in 2021 intra-articular corticosteroid injections into his front fetlocks.
Chip is not insured so all investigatory work and treatment (at considerable expense over the years) has been covered by myself.
This time around we found that Chip had defaulted back to a variance on the circle on the inside hind-limb, which on blocking the hind fetlock completely improved. We couldn’t detect any abnormality on a straight line via the computer however visually both my vet and I could see that he was bringing his hind legs ever so slightly onto the centre line rather than totally landing straight (he is conformationally cow-hocked so this is a default movement pattern for him that I work on by trying to strengthen his hind end as much as possible (lots of poles and leg yields)). Blocking the fetlocks also improved this landing pattern in a straight line.
So the decision was made to medicate the hind fetlocks but nothing was needed to support the front ones this time. I also purchased another box of BozMerix which is a neutraceutical to aid inflammation – you can only buy it from your vet but I really do recommend it. My bill totalled £1,250 for extra x-rays, scans, assessment, treatment and the supplement.
It’s probably worth pausing the story at this point to address the ethics of this little vet section. I know that it’s a touchy subject. I’ve swerved it over the years and have never publicly spoken about veterinary intervention to keep Chip on the road. I know that my usage is light compared to many others. And there are many horses relying on medication to stay sound for very light work in comparison. I also know that it’s probably quite rare to find horses competing at 3* level or above in any discipline without some veterinary intervention at some point. I do find myself in a bit of a moral dilemma. I don’t want this blog to become an ethical debate on the rights and wrongs of horse sport – I’m not quite ready to tackle the social license question all by myself but I’ve raised it so you can hopefully understand my decision as to the future of Chip’s career further along in this blog…
Let’s move on to something a bit lighter – my own training. Though I’m not really sure it can be described as light ahha! One of the challenges of competing in the UK is the very high propensity to end up alone on the track. We just don’t have a great depth of competitors across all distances but most especially in the bigger distances. There were only 3 entries in my 80km CER and as it turned out just 6 in the National Championships 160km!
At Windsor I really struggled mentally with being alone and staying motivated. The 80km at Kings felt so comparatively easy and I was in such a better place myself that riding two loops alone was actually fine! However, I still wanted to work on my mental endurance as well as improve my own fitness.
I’m already a quite fit person and I do exercise perhaps more than average. I cycle, run, gym and play netball as well as looking after my 4 horses myself inclusive of all chores and training. I have no ‘help’ and of course I work full time to pay for it all too! Anyway, I decided that my own ‘big’ training would be 6 weeks out – a 164km cycle sportive and 3 weeks out a marathon. I didn’t particular factor in that that these would clash with Chip’s ‘long trainings’ either so it did make for some particularly extreme weekends!
I’ve never participated in any other endurance events before other than horse riding so I rocked up to the cycle event in a pair of gym leggings, my trainers (because cleats scare me too much about falling off – we all know I have a high propensity to get injured), riding tops and riding gloves. In fact, the only piece of specific kit is the bike itself and my helmet! Nonetheless, I completed the 164km in a little over 7hr inclusive of stops as they don’t have vet gates and hold times at these events!
The marathon was tougher as I actually really don’t like running very much and so it was only my 9th run of 2022! I did a 30km run two weeks before and a couple of 10kms but otherwise I really didn’t train for it. I mucked up my hydration and had a little black out/faint at 27km in but managed to pick myself back up to complete.
I trialled various carbohydrate/electrolyte solutions for myself at both of these events – drinks, bars, gels and chews. I’m not a big eater on race day and I can struggle with the light-headedness so I wanted to try out some different options that I could pull across to endurance riding. I really recommend visiting a running shop – I received lots of great advice and now have a little ‘go to’ line up 😊
What I also learned from both the sportive and the marathon is just to keep moving your legs. Sounds obvious I know but I don’t think I’d ever related that thought process into endurance riding before – just keep moving. For many years I’ve been quite focused on speeds – I’ve learned how to train for speed when I worked for the UAE stable and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve accepted I don’t have the horse power, finances and/or facilities to ever achieve that myself – even with the best will in the world. And don’t get my wrong, I’m not saying I want to do a 160km at 25kmph average but I do/did want to do a 160km at 16kmph – I don’t think that’s asking too much. Anyway, the point is, I realized on the marathon most especially, that finishing the damn thing is actually a massive achievement and perhaps I had forgotten what a huge achievement endurance riding is too – even if it’s ‘just’ an 80km – it’s actually a bloody long way. Completing is so impressive and doing it at any reasonable speed is more impressive. Add some speedy presentation times and a great vet card and it’s seriously impressive. Let’s not forget that!
The last thing to discuss before I talk about the race itself was the decision to enter the CEI3* 160km rather than the national 160km. Trust me when I say it wasn’t a quick or easy decision.
Since I was 15 years old I have pursued FEI (international) rides. I was lucky enough to compete on the under 21 GBR squad at the European Championships in 2016. I had hoped to represent the senior squad at a championship with Chip at some point too. However, with the cost of competing, the difficulties getting abroad with Brexit and the new qualification system and of course the seeming inability to actually complete a 160km I decided in 2020 that Chip and I probably was not aiming at any team competition anymore. Instead, I just wanted to get a 3* for both of us, I just wanted to achieve that ultimate goal of a 160km!
When it came round to this summer Kings I could have entered the national 160km for £150. Or I could enter the CEI3*, inclusive of renewing mine and Chip’s FEI registrations, stabling and bedding for £510. It’s a considerable cost difference.
BUT I felt so far down the FEI route that I almost couldn’t back out of it now. Which is silly because of course I could, but there was a bit of me that didn’t want to shortchange myself that 3* status and I really really wanted Chip to be a 3* horse. Wouldn’t that be a cool accolade.
I said last year that Windsor was going to be our last FEI ride but as it didn’t work out I decided Kings was instead going to be our last FEI ride. I just wanted to do it once! Just once, and then we could retire from FEI and play around at the shorter distances.
It’s worth pointing out too that FEI passports are required for this level and expire after 4 years. These cost around £250 off the top of my head. Chip’s is due to expire 06.08.22. Chip’s eligibility to compete in a 3* expires on the 30.06.22. After this, he will have to do another 2* to requalify. We had to give the 3* a crack before the end of June this year if we were going to do it.
Anyway, I bit the bullet and put my entry in. Chip remained sound throughout all the training, including the slow and stony 60km as well as the faster sandy 60km. I maintained him with fortnightly sports massages where we worked on his recurring issues (tight adductors, pecks and occasionally loins) as well as chiropractic sessions. Since changing his saddle in 2020 we actually don’t have half the loin issues we used to have!
I also maxed out on joint supplement support. SPILLERS Supple + Senior Balancer (pellets), Science Supplements Flexibility Pro (powder), BozMerix (powder), Equine America Buteless (liquid), 4Cyte Epiitalis Forte (gel). I worked out that the cost per day was around £8.83. Not a viable long-term solution but I get into this little race mode where I just think I am too far gone to make sacrifices at the last minute.
I also have some race essentials that I feel strongly that I can’t live without. Traumeel is one – it’s an antiflamatory gel that we apply to the legs (and anywhere else that we get panicky about) during the vet gates. That’s £50 a pot and we tend to use a couple of pots during a race (depending on the distance of course).
I also truly believe in Science Supplements Energex. It’s a carbohydrate paste that really makes the difference. I start feeding it from VG1 to stimulate some appetite and then from there we administer at the half-way crew point on loops as well as all subsequent vet gates. So for the 160km I’d need 8 – Supplement Solutions do a bulk deal making these £8.50 each - £68 and don’t forget postage!
If you hadn’t already guessed at this point into the blog I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure it’s worth sacrificing sooo much of my salary to compete at this level. Perhaps it’s my age and increasing other responsibilities but it really doesn’t add up. We’ve also got fuel for myself and crew now at nearly £2 p/litre and crew food/accommodation to add on too.
Oh yes and all my own carb/electrolytes were £30 too.
I’m not going to add up the actual cost of competing in the 3* at Kings but I do want to highlight that it’s expensive. There’s no getting around it.
Horse ownership is expensive.
Okay I think I’ve addressed the usual build-up-to-racing factors so now time to talk about the actual race!
One of the new FEI rule changes is regarding arrival time at the venue ahead of the pre-ride vetting. The president of the vet commission is allowed to adjust the rule to their discretion, so this meant all 3* and 2* horses had to be on site on Friday by 12pm. This is a little earlier than we would usually arrive as pre-ride vetting wasn’t until 4pm but actually it worked out really well because we were able to get everything sorted at a reasonable hour and get a nice early night too.
My best friend and crew member Shez convoyed with me to Kings as we are never 100% confident that we won’t have a breakdown (I have a bad car history). As it was, we had a seamless journey of a little over 2hrs to get there and arrived in plenty of time not long after 11am.
For FEI events you have to stable your horse but since Chip lives out 24/7 at home, I really didn’t want him to be shut in for any longer than necessary. Between Shez and I we hand-grazed Chip, went to the supermarket to get ice, set up camp, the hold area, disinfected and set up the stable and packed the crew car all before pre-ride vetting.
My remaining crew members of my sister Pheobe and her boyfriend Cam arrived in time for pre-ride vetting also and so the full team were together for the briefing at 5.15pm. Pre-ride vetting was stressless and of course we started with a straight A card. Pheobe and I made a joke to Chip that we wanted nothing less than this all day on Saturday haha
Stables closed at 8pm so I waited until the very last minute to put Chip in there as I know he really doesn’t enjoy the confined space anymore. We went to bed not long after this to try to get some sleep ahead of the 4am alarm.
Amazingly I probably did get about 5hrs sleep which is really good going for me. I’m a light sleeper at the best of times and for once I think I was more excited than nervous. I got up a few minutes before 4am to give Chip his breakfast. I was gutted to see that he’d been on hunger strike overnight in protest of the stable and had literally (as far as I could tell) not eaten any forage or even had a drink ☹
Horses weren’t allowed to exit the stable until 4.30am so at 4.29am we were poised at the exit ready to get him out of there. He grazed with intent and also had a drink at the trailer. I decided to get tacked up early and head out to our hold area (where we had spent a bit of time on Friday afternoon) so we could try to get a second breakfast down him. Not that it was ever going to undo the 8hrs of starvation.
One of the nicest things for me about the whole day was actually how calm (and safe) I felt in the warm up and on the start line. Chip and I have certainly had some rough patches in the early days but he’s become the horse of my dreams now. He looked and felt simply amazing – we could have gone into a dressage test!
With a just a 6 horse start I soon settled into a group of 3 which over the course of the loop altered into a 2 which settled us at a little under 17kmph for the loop. The first loop was a 40km (which rode long at 41km) but it was split into 2x 20km loops, an orange and then a green. The green itself had 5km on the west side of the venue and then 15km of the east side. So we actually came back to the venue three times over the course of the first loop. It was rather odd but these experienced horses didn’t think much of it.
I was very content with the pace on the first loop and enjoyed the company of the other riders. We had a mixture of trot and canter and Chip was largely very settled though of course pulling a bit as he was obviously fresh.
Into the first vet gate as a group of 4, with one other rider a few minutes ahead, I was fairly confident that Chip would present speedily (2.05) and we managed to make up the time to leave VG2 a little over 1min behind 1st place. A straight A card so Chip had listened to the directive haha
The first vet gate Chip often isn’t interest in eating as he is hyped up but with the stable incident in the back of my mind the crew team all worked hard to entice him. We had another long loop ahead – a repeat of the 40km. We gave him an Energex early into the 40min hold as this can often stimulate his appetite and it worked as he did start eating in the last 15mins before we had to go back out. Ice boots, massage roller ball, traumeel – for me fresh socks and a carb/electrolyte drink mixed up for the next loop. All was going to plan.
Out onto the second loop I decided to let Chip choose the pace as to whether to make up the difference and catch 1st place or to settle and let 3rd place catch us. As you all know, Chip is happiest in company so I didn’t really mind either way so early on into the day.
Within the first 10mins we had been caught by Sarah but Chip was content to ride along with her horse Rubyn. The pace had picked up a bit but I was aware that the gap between us and the riders behind was now increasing and the last place I wanted to be with Chip was in no-mans-land. I stuck with Sarah and by the 2nd crew point we had also caught Nikki. The three of us progressed but by the 20km point of this loop I really felt the speed was getting excessive. We were at 18.5kmph average and we just didn’t need to be. A quick consultation at the crew point I held back. We were early into the day still. Nikki and Sarah have both ridden at multiple championships on horses that had both done two 160kms before. They could go faster than us.
I took a pull (and honestly a leap of faith) because I knew I was putting myself into a massive gap of no company. But I also knew it was the right thing to do.
I kept moving, trotting and cantering but really slowed it all down much to Chip’s dissatisfaction. We edged the gap between us as the loop went on so by the time we were back to the venue we had got our speed back down to 17.2kmph again. Importantly Chip was a lot more settled too, and it wasn’t as tiring for me holding him back. He doesn’t pull at all in training (well not often) so when we get to races and he pulls so much I find it energy sapping and inefficient. He can also get a sore mouth so we have to protect it with lotions and potions.
With a 1:52 presentation we were into VG2 with another straight A card. Devastatingly for Nikki and Sarah both were eliminated in this vet gate on lameness. This was a really big wake up call for myself to stay focused on the course and hold the speed.
Chip was much more eager to eat in this vetgate and we followed our usual protocol of icing the legs, massaging his back (which oddly we had found a little trigger mid-thoracic) and then traumeel. I also made sure to eat and drink which is something I find challenging. The weather was a funny one, not excessively hot but a nippy wind. I found myself taking layers on and off plenty of times in the VG struggling to regulate my temperature.
I made a note of the other 160km riders coming into VG2 a considerable 25mins behind us. The rest of the ride was certainly now going to be completed alone. We had done 80 (82km) and so we were half-way. This is what we had trained for though, I knew this was a distinct possibility. I wasn’t keen on the concept but I was prepared and so we went out onto loop 3 (just a 30km) with intent.
Onto the loop Chip was feeling amazing – 100% perfect. But as the loop progressed I started to feel his enthusiasm wane. Being alone really is tough for us so I allowed our speed to drop back and took my lessons from my sportive and marathon – just keep moving – even if the pace is slower. At about the 15km mark I noticed that Chip was dominating left lead canter. I work tirelessly in training to maintain even leads so this is always a flag for me. At Windsor I had misread this sign with the stone so we took a moment at the crew point to check his foot but there was nothing to be found.
Other than preferring not to canter on his right lead Chip was still feeling fine. Our pace was now at 15.5kmph but I was happy with that. We didn’t really see any horses and those we did see were always going in the opposite direction to us. He drank superbly at every crew point and also the water point so I was confident that his metabolics were good.
VG3 had a compulsory re-exam and I was thinking to myself coming into the venue that we have quite a bit of work to do. I thought the little niggle in his back needs some serious attention and we needed to find the cause of right lead canter reluctance (which I suspected was his back) – we still had 50km to go!
However, we didn’t get that far, with a 02:13 presentation we scored a lot of Bs and 2s for metabolics but the shocker of the day was the bilateral lameness behind – a good 3/5 lame! He was bringing both back legs dramatically onto the centre line (so much worse than we’d seen at the vets in April).
The day got worse again when we tried to leave the vetting area. Chip just stopped and wouldn’t walk. And then he started to wobble. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this before (with other horses thankfully not my own) and they go down fast once they get a wobble on. Thankfully being still at the vets we were had a full team over quickly to support us and he stayed upright. His pulse was only 41 whilst this ordeal was happening but he just couldn’t/wouldn’t walk. I had no idea what was going on, he’s never ever done this before. I wondered if he’d tied up (it would explain being lame on both back legs) but his muscle tone was an A. None of it made any sense. His gut sounds were quiet but they were audible.
The vets and my team were really unsure what was happening. He was really lame so whether it was a pain response? We just don’t know and I’m not sure that we’ll ever know for sure. One factor which sounds ridiculous was the specific rug that we had on at the time.
I have this (urghmp expensive) Back on Track rug but Chip doesn’t seem to like it. I say this with some certainty because 3 times previously when I’ve put it on Chip he’s tried to bite it and pull it off? I’m not sure why it’s so offensive to him but he just doesn’t seem to like it. He’s even thrown himself on the floor once with it on and tried to roll it off. A really odd and OTT response. Obviously, he’s not done it every single time otherwise I would just give up with it but he has done it 3 times. Well, he was wearing this rug (I hasten to add he’d been wearing this rug in both the two previous vettings also) but the moment we took the rug off he suddenly decided he could indeed walk again and stepped off really well (not indicative of tying up). It’s super strange but he was biting at his sides (the rug) when he was frozen on the spot so I don’t know if he just felt very strongly that he didn’t want that rug on ?
Anyway, we kept Chip in the hold area for a good hour under vet supervision just in case anything were to happen again but thankfully he just focused on refuelling and ate really well without anymore drama. We put a different rug on him and he didn’t fuss.
After some time we also trotted him for Tom, the treatment vet, and he was significantly sounder though still marginally bilaterally lame. As Spice and my sister’s horse Roo were just down the road in the secure paddock we got permission to travel him there so that Chip too could be outside rather than in the stable for another night.
Chip and Spice were very happy to be reunited. Chip trotted around his paddock well and so I was largely content that whatever had gone wrong wasn’t too serious.
I’ve now had lots of time to reflect and consider. I don’t think Chip’s lameness could be attributed to any one single factor and instead I think it was a multitude of factors. The ground was exceedingly hard and this was something I really hadn’t anticipated. It was also stony – again fair stonier than I had expected. When I did my 3 week out 60km training ride at the Kings the going was absolutely faultlessly perfect but it was raining. This time around it was bone dry and actually riding on the Sunday on Spice (going so much more slowly) I noticed even more just how concussive the ground really was.
For a horse with joint degeneration, hard ground is never ideal. The way he was moving behind I do feel that this concussion was perhaps the greatest cause of the lameness.
The elephant in the room is also the barefoot status. Shoes have become a bit of a bugbare. We’ve tried concaves, flats, pads, pads with packing, pads without packing… all without success in recent years if I’m honest. The main thing I have noticed being barefoot is that Chip gets a lot less fill in his legs after training compared to wearing shoes. I think shoes do not help concussion.
So was he footy – is that why he trotted up like that? I have to consider it as a possibility, of course I do. However, it’s hard to see it. And wearing shoes without pads (as we found at Windsor) it’s still possible to get stone bruising.
Chip has, hand on heart, never been footy since being barefoot. This has been one of the main considerations in keeping him barefoot. I think shoes do offer structural support, however his feet are the BEST they have ever been in the 7 years I have owned him. The conformation of them now offers so much natural support and they are so healthy.
There are 0 signs of bruising on his soles, he’s not so much as even worn any toe or caused any chips in his feet. They look as perfect now as they did at the start line.
However, was he travelling differently because he could simply feel his feet more? Was it just a bit stony and hard enough to make him move a bit different comparatively to in training? He felt 100% amazing to VG2, and actually for another 15km into the third loop. Is 95km is his max on harder ground? Or is 95km the max barefoot?
It’s a bit of trial and error and the answer to this question relies on so many variables and factors. It’s impossible to ever replicate it all exactly again to understand what we could have done differently.
Also his back – his back has been so reliably good since changing saddles last year. Yes, he gets niggles at home like any horse in hard work but he’s never picked up a niggle during a race before. It was just a niggle, don’t get me wrong he wasn’t sitting down away from the pressure but it was there and it something we need to think about.
Finally, the wobble in the vetting… my gut tells me he didn’t tie up. I don’t see him as being this kind of horse, which I know is a funny thing to say, but I think if he was going to have muscle myopathy issues he’d have displayed them in his career before now. However, not eating for 8hrs the night before when he’s used to 24/7 grazing was never going to be beneficial. Was this a factor? probably.
The cause of the elimination is certainly a quandary. Gutting. So much time, effort and mental capacity given up to the race and now all dashed.
I’d decided already that I wasn’t going to renew Chip’s FEI passport. We can’t afford to go abroad, we’re not going to do teams so there’s no benefit competing in FEI events now vs national.
I’m also not going to ask him to do another 2* in order to re-qualify to do a 3*. He’s 13yrs old and he’s experienced enough that I really don’t think he needs to 120km in order to be able to do a 160km.
My options are now to retire Chip from endurance entirely, stick to 80km max (as he finds this incredibly easy and well within his capabilities) or attempt a 160km next year as a national. I don’t have to decide right now and I will as ever be guided by Chip.
The end goal is keeping Chippy sound and happy into his late 20s. I absolutely do not want to break him in pursuit of a 160km.
Importantly, in the immediate future I need to recoup some finances and pay back my credit card. We need to investigate his back and saddle set up too.
The main thing for me is that Chip enjoys what he does and I enjoy it too. The 80km CER was just sooo much fun. Okay it’s not a huge challenge for me personally however I can satisfy my endurance cravings via cycling and running now. I don’t need to do crazy challenges on horseback. And I excitingly have younger horses for the future that will hopefully give me the opportunity to do a 160km.