4 October 2015 – Felix graduates from Borstal

My own endurance exploits took a bit of a downturn in September – I took Wolf to Blakey Ridge and it was very windy. He was a bit wired, and then about 100 yards out of the venue a tractor was coming the other way. I though discretion and valour and all that and figured I’d get off and lead him till we got off the road. Only I forgot I had the new saddle on and got my leg stuck over the cantle. And then in trying to free my leg I kicked him up the arse. Quite hard. Don’t kick your already wired babypony up the arse, it’s not big and it’s not clever. The ground hurt! And then to add insult to injury he wasn’t even that bothered about the tractor. Ho hum. I’ve had a sore ankle for a few weeks but it’s getting better now, and I’m walking much less like ‘two soups’.

But in the meantime Felix was at borstal again for part two of his backing. He’s been an absolute star, hacking out:

Doing gates:

And generally looking very classy:

So very, very proud of the boy. Thanks to Bridget and Nikki Brown for doing wonders with both of our youngsters.

Of course it’s rained ever since we brought him home, but our homework for the winter is lots of bimbling about in hand, on long reins, and under saddle, to build him up.

Oh and I need to practice dismounting safely. Honestly, I shouldn’t be let out in public.

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4 October 2015 – Felix graduates from Borstal

2 August 2015 – Dialstone Pleasure Ride

Dialstone ride is a bit special, and it’s one of my favourites, and as we didn’t make it to Lindum we thought we’d give Dialstone a go instead. Sam very kindly offered to do experienced schoolmaster escort duties with Stan. As it turned out Wolf had his brave pants on and we only needed Stan’s support a couple of times.

The new venue is a little bit further away so there was a bit more roadwork to get to the good tracks, but they were quiet roads with good verges. It was quite murky when we set off and I was wondering whether the weather forecast was wrong.

We tritty trotted along the lanes and then we were heading up over the moors. The going was mostly excellent and the ponies went well together. Had a bit of an ‘eek’ moment when a ninja sheep jumped into the air from its hiding place, but he settled again quickly after that. We had some beautiful views down the deep dales to one side of us, and then we joined the Cleveland Way for our way home. More beautiful views:

Then we met the photographer who took an amazing photograph of us http://www.marimages.co.uk/p940433948/h517d07b1#h517d07b1

Wolf went in front, behind, and coped with other horses passing him. We even did three gates all on our own.

We had to loop away from the venue for the final bit but he wasn’t bothered about that either. A few more quiet lanes, then a lovely grassy track, and all too soon we were back at the venue, still full of running

We’d done 24km at about 10.7kph which I was more than chuffed about.

Thank you to NE Yorks group EGB for a fantastic day, and thank you to Sam and to Kezza for all your help.

2 August 2015 – Dialstone Pleasure Ride

25 July 2015 – The Lindum that wasn’t

We had entered the Saturday ride at Lindum, and it was to be Wolfie’s first Lindum and I was really excited. However, we had a few technical problems with the horsebox and having just got it back I didn’t really fancy the trec over to Market Rasen.

I was quite disappointed, but then some of our lovely endurance pals said they would bring the spirit of Lindum to us. We arranged to meet at Brodsworth (a short drive so a good test for the newly repaired box) and we’d have a ride out and a picnic.

We had a lovely ride around the pit stacks

We practiced going over bridges

We investigated the modern sculptures

We put our trec training to good use

And then we had a quality picnic

And discovered that Wolf likes strawberries. A lot.

It might not have been Lindum but we had a good day and there’s always next year. Plans are baaaaaaad…..

25 July 2015 – The Lindum that wasn’t

11 & 12 July 2015 – The War of the Roses

Four years ago we were very kindly offered a venue near Blubberhouses by one of our members, and they were keen to develop the ride into a national competitive ride. The area is very beautiful but it is not the easiest – there are a lot of hills and open moorland with its accompanying challenges.

The first year it rained pretty much all year and the ride never got off the ground. But it gave us the chance to really review the area to see what tracks were available.The second year we ran a pleasure ride. It was a bit of an experiment, and it was very roady, but everyone came back smiling and we started to think that something special might just be possible. More route research followed, and the next year we ran the ride as our ‘pink’ charity ride. Unfortunately the endurance gods had it in for us and the ride was caught in the middle of a Met Office severe weather warning. We curtailed the second day and realised that whatever route we used had to be absolutely weatherproof.

Our wonderful venue owners negotiated some more private land access and the potential for a national ride started to rear its head again. We walked and rode and walked and rode the potential routes and decided we had a go-er. The views were to die for, and although there were some bits of testing going, there was enough good going to allow people to make up the time. The ride needed a ‘hook’, though, and as the access roads were from the east and the west, and the route followed some of the ‘Way of the Roses’ cycle route, we decided it would be a good idea to try and answer that age old immortal question: “Which side of t’Pennines is the right side?”, and the “War of the Roses” ride was born. Each entrant would ride for either the “House of York” or the “House of Lancaster”  and at the end of the weekend we would tally up all the points and crown a winner.

After weeks of preparation and stress and worry, the weekend rolled around. Amazingly, we were full to bursting and had a waiting list for entries. Had we bitten off more than we could chew?

The entrants got right into the spirit of things and there were red and white roses and flags all over the venue.

The Saturday social ride went well, and everyone arrived back smiling. The competitive classes were on the Sunday and we were anxious and excited about how people would get on. Would they enjoy it? Would the weather hold off to allow them to see the amazing views? Would they come back wanting to murder us because the tracks were too hilly/challenging? There was about 700 metres of climbing on the 40km route and about 1500 metres of climbing on the 65km route: a proper ‘old fashioned’ ride.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves though. Kezza caught some good pics while she was up in the middle of no-where manning a gate:

Most people came back smiling and so far the feedback has been very good. As to the important question, Yorkshire won the War of the Roses. Julie Martin and Bridget Brown, chairs of the two Endurance GB Yorkshire groups, accepted the trophy on behalf of the county:

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate everyone’s support with putting this ride on. It has been three years of blood, sweat and tears to get it to this point and I think we can get it better still. Special thanks must go to Anne & Emily Ferguson (my co-organisers), Breaks Fold Farm (our amazing venue who pulled it out of the bag again and also sponsored the ‘most courteous rider’ award), Kerry Dawson (who just makes things happen and keeps me sane), technical steward Sue Cunningham, Jeni Gilbert & Brian Floyd Davies who helped us out with some logistical and health & safety issues, the local landowners who let us ride over their land, the farrier who came out on the Saturday evening to replace some lost shoes, Emma Husband who is getting very good at filling in incident report forms, Little Oak Therapies who sponsored the War of the Roses trophy, Wharfedale Equestrian who sponsored the West Riding Challenge, Station House Vets who vetted for us and sponsored the ‘Best Presented’ award, and lastly but by no means least each and every one of our amazing volunteers without whom the ride would not have happened.  Endurance people really are the best – I love you all.

11 & 12 July 2015 – The War of the Roses

24 May 2015 – Brough Park 20km pleasure ride

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 w11165324_10204053121389117_6873725132544701201_nas 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.

24 May 2015 – Brough Park 20km pleasure ride

11 April 2015: West Riding Coaching Day

As a group we’ve decided to mix our coaching sessions up a bit this year, and have people from outside the endurance world come and coach us too. A bit of cross training never did anyone any harm. Today was the turn of Evie O’Keeffe, who is a Trec GB instructor, and she was going to show us how to have fun with obstacles.

Wolf and I were in the first session, which was specifically geared towards green youngsters. Evie was very patient and built Wolf’s confidence up steadily. He was soon tackling the obstacles like an old pro.

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I’m just so chuffed with him today. I reckon he could have a half decent bash at a Trec competition if we were so inclined.

Kezza videoed the sessions too: https://youtu.be/x17Lbis9yic

Big hugs for Wolf:

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(Thanks to Ruth O’Keeffe for the photos)

11 April 2015: West Riding Coaching Day

21 September 2014: White Horse Wander

We did a couple of little social rides last year when he was 4yo, and I wanted something quiet for Wolf’s first pleasure ride where there were national rides going on alongside. The White Horse Wander, which goes up and down the escarpment at Sutton Bank near the White Horse, looked to be a good bet, as I figured he may calm his knickers with a few hills. He has been a bit wired at home lately so I really didn’t know how this one was going to go. Tigs and the wonderful Monkey kindly offered their experienced schoolmaster escort services as they were quite happy to go slow and steady with us.

Anyhow, we arrived and all was calm. So off for our first ever trot up….which was a little ‘forwards’.

He felt a little bit eek when I got on, and had the obligatory spook at the banner by the start. After tritty trotting through the woodland, the route soon took us upwards…and upwards…..and upwards….. At this point Wolf was starting to wonder where the number was for ‘ponyline’ as big hills definitely wasn’t on his agenda. We were right next to the Sutton Bank road at this point so he was gawking at the motorbikes too. But once it leveled out he got his wind back and was back to bimbling along with his ears pricked.

One thing I’d forgotten about Sutton Bank was that there is a gliding club at the top. Although Wolf didn’t bat an eyelid at them as they soared overhead. He didn’t even bat an eyelid when we climbed back up the bank and ended up riding right next to the runway where they were taking off.

And the white horse was pretty cool. All too soon we were back:

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The vet was quiet so she said she’d take his pulse, and he was very good for that too. Considering we hadn’t even tried to get his pulse down as it was only a pleasure ride, he finished on 46 which wasn’t bad at all.

One last trot up, and he trotted like an old pro. We’d passed our very first vetted ride, and I couldn’t be more proud

Thanks to NE Yorks Group of EGB for a great ride. Lots for Wolf to think about, but not too much pressure.

21 September 2014: White Horse Wander