Having tried unsuccessfully to get to a couple of rides this year, we finally managed to have a working, MOTed horsebox and a Kezza who hadn’t been summonsed down to Windsor and so I put an entry in for the 20km at Brough Park. The problem with having unsuccessful attempts to get to rides is that it sends my wibbling into overdrive. Green 6yo Wolf, first ride of the season, what could possibly go wrong.
So there I am at the field, faffing about with stuff, panicking that I haven’t got everything. Pep talk number one from Kezza. I get ‘that look’. “Here’s a headcollar, go and catch the pony”. So, I go and catch the pony and Kezza has moved the box and got everything ready. Wolf loads straight away, and starts tucking into hay.
Uneventful journey – our mechanic had finally lost patience with the box’s EGR valve and had disabled it, so she was running like a dream. We unload and I start faffing again, I can’t find my map, I can’t find my phone, and Wolf is getting a bit wired. Pep talk number two from Kezza. I get ‘that look’ again: “You know he gets worked up when you get worked up. Now calm down”. Offered Wolf a drink and he downed a whole bucket – I am still getting used to the incredible drinking pony, I’ve never had one of those before.
Our riding partner for the day had arrived and so we tacked up. I started to wibble again. Another look: “Get on the pony and go and have a good ride”. OK, OK, OK…..
Wolf was a bit gawky going to the start. Walking across the car park we met another lady who wanted company so she palled up with us too. The first bit of route was a bit of road and Wolf’s looking at everything. Side step at the scary bridge, side step and snort at the scary bus, argh, lines on the road…. But we survived, and I knew he’d settle eventually. Into a bit of woodland behind the army estate and we had a bit of trot. I’d put a nosenet on him as he has a very pink nose and can get bothered by the sun, but the nosenet was winding him up more than the occasional bit of sunlight would so we stopped and took it off. More tritty trotting through wooded areas and we arrived at the first manned road crossing.
Wolf waited quite patiently for a gap in the traffic, and then crossed nicely. We were then onto a very minor road and we tritty trotted most of the way down to the little village at the end. I could feel myself starting to relax, and funnily enough so did Wolf. Note to self – Kezza is always right…. We went through a little ford in the village, and then past a guy doing some strimming. Then we were onto proper bridleways, nice grassy ones too. There were a few gates – one was spring loaded but brave Wolf let me hold it open for us to go through. We met a nice man running with his dog who helped us out at a couple of the gates. We had some nice views over towards the edge of the Pennines from some of the farmland, too.
We crossed back over the road and we were heading towards Brough Park. A lovely grassy field and we met the official photographer. Our very first official ride photo and I was grinning like an idiot: http://www.marimages.co.uk/p101354351/h479df892#h479df892
Brough Park was a lovely old estate, and we stopped for a quick ‘ears’ shot:
Tritty trotted some more through the estate, and then we were back onto a quiet road past the entrance to Richmond Equestrian Centre. We even had a bit of a canter along one of the verges – we’ve struggled a bit with canter transitions as he gets his legs in a knot but he was going well and I thought I’d see what happened, and he gave me a perfect transition.
We took it in turns to take the lead, and when we turned to head north again Wolf was ever so brave and took the lead between some cow barns of mooing cows. Then we rode across some more grassy fields and we had a longer canter. We were then up past the back of Richmond Equestrian Centre, and onto another bridleway which took us down through another ford where Wolf had a bit of a drink.
All too soon we were nearly back at Catterick Garrison and within sniffing distance of the end of the ride. More wiggling about through wooded areas, and another little canter, again with a nice transition. Kezza was taking some snaps on the course too and she got a nice one of us.
Then we trundled back through the finish, and I untacked Wolf and cooled him off. More drinking, he downed another bucket. Took his pulse after about five minutes just to see and it was 40, even with him getting cross and trying to tank towards the grass. Then some munching and some socialising and lots of thank yous and it was time to go home again.
Thank you to everyone involved in this ride, thank you to Kezza for the pep talks, and thank you to our riding partners too. I couldn’t have asked for better. Endurance is so friendly and the people are so helpful – Durham & Teesside group had managed to get so many smiling helpers on the way round, and lots of people said how nice it was to see me on a horse for a change. And rides like this one are so good for young horses – lots for them to see and do without over facing them. Wolf was an absolute star – every ride we’ve done he’s felt more established, and today he was motoring.
I will be wearing this insane grin for a good few days yet.