Endurance GB Squad day

Another two weeks have flown past.  Last weekend Spangle, Nicky and I headed off to Dumfriesshire for Endurance GB Squad assesment day.  It was great that a day had been put on in Scotland and that it was well attended.  It was still a long drive for us but nevertheless much shorter than it could have been if it had been in central or southern England.

In the morning the horses were looked at by vet and farrier and riders/crew had individual dicussions with team management and in the afternoon we were split into groups to do some exercise on the gallops.  The aim was to do 20km on the gallops come straight off and report heart rate after 1 minute and vet as soon as possible.

The gallops were quite deep sand and this gave me a little cause for concern as while Spangle is fit she isn’t used to a surface like that for a sustained period and with it being three weeks from one of our major aims for the year I did not wish to risk injury so decided I would see how she went and pull her up if I felt I needed to.

It all was very interesting… first of all I fell off as Spangle did not like stepping over the entrance to the gallop warm up area and whilst I stayed on for that her reaction at the surprise of landing in the deep surface then caused me to go out the side door – fantastic with everyone watching on… I wanted the ground to just swallow me up! Anyway the surface at least gave a soft landing and I was not hurt so quickly got back and we set off round the gallops with our partner (we had warmed up already outwith the gallops area) once Spangle was used to the surface she settled into the work easily, we kept it steady for the first couple of circuits, mainly trotting, to ensure they were properly warmed up and that we didn’t overdo them on the going.  We then started to do more canter but Spangle then also realised this was a round and round job and became less than keen to pass the spectators/volunteers at the entrance – she was bearable tho until about 10km and then started to dig her heels a bit more at the top section of the track.  We managed to continue as I felt she was coping well and could do a bit more and was going strongly once we got passed the areas that she didn’t like to pass!

On approaching the entrance area again I really focussed on how to ride her past, we had caught up with another two so it should be easier, however at that moment, the lovely horse we had paired with from the start and that had tolerated us when we leapt into the arena at the very start and landed beside him, decided to take a dislike to us and swung his quarters at us and kicked out.  The noise of the impact was horrifying as was the intake of breathes from those watching from the side.  I knew he had made contact with my ankle but had he caught Spangle too – she felt fine and unperturbed, and I couldn’t see anything.  I wasn’t in a lot of pain either so we carried on another couple of times round and then called it a day as Spangle was saying to me she had had enough of round and round.  She had done well I felt as the most troublesome part of working with Spangle is her mind.  If you don’t have it on side it is very hard work! Given this was her first experience of working like this I didn’t want to overdo it – either physically or mentally.

The preparation for vetting was interesting and highlighted to me that we are out of practice! I never had a stop watch with my stethescope so we fumbled around trying to use Nickys which wasn’t the best for trying to be quick.  We’d forgotten a leadrope for the crewing area but made do with the reins – but again lost us time and generally we were just a bit disorganised – plus I hated all the stuck on sand from the gallops and wanted to clean that off while Spangle was warm as it was quite a cold wind and I’d need to wrap her up after.  I also found where the kick had caught her and took a bit of time to look at it.  So not the best impression to the management team I am guessing – but a valuable experience for me and Nicky and we’ll maybe have to make some preparation notes to improve and remind ourselves of what to have where.  It has also got me thinking I really should have heart rate monitors working again too – so this morning I have spent replacing batteries on some and working out which others I need to take somewhere to get fixed up.

Luckily both Spangle appear none the worse for wear for being kicked.  I had bruising and swelling and Spangle had a few grazes but remained sound.  Our Golden Horseshoe plans remain intact for now.

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