Monday, 18 April 2011

Sport Endurance, Clumber Park

Hi there, I hope you're having the fabulous weather that we're having, although the forecast says rain for a lot of areas apart from us (we are more or less in the middle of England). I just wanted to say what a fabulous time I had on Saturday. I saw the ride round Clumber Park advertised on the Sport Endurance website. It's my first ride without Mr O, as he had a competition on Sunday (more about that tomorrow). I signed up for ten miles, but when they measured the distance out, it turned out to be twelve miles, still well within Barnaby's capability. Then in the middle of the week, my friend Sam emailed me to ask if I was doing it, as she'd like to take her new young mare, so we arranged to do it together. I got Barnaby out of the field in the morning, gave him a groom and put all his travel gear on. We loaded him in the lorry and began the journey to Worksop. To my surprise we got there quite quickly and were an hour early. Fortunately Barnaby was unusually well behaved, considering he didn't have Zak with him. He seemed quite happy to tuck into the rather nice grass, while we waited for Sam. We couldn't start until 10.30am anyway, as all the actual competitors were setting off first, followed by the pleasure riders. Sam had struggled to load her horse Millie, but arrived about 10.45. Her horse was whinnying her head off in the trailer. I had tacked Barnaby up by then so rode off to meet this new mare. She was quite a sweetie, a coloured horse, but not a cob I don't think. She wasn't quite as big as Barnaby, and soon started batting her eyelashes at him. He just kept staring at her, not sure what to think. I had decided to ride Barnaby in a double bridle (a good move as it turned out) but forgot a breastplate again, so had to tie the map to a D ring on the front of the saddle. My drink cannister was attached to the left hand side too. I coated him in suncream and fly spray, and we set off at 10.58am. Clumber Park is several thousand acres of stunning parkland. It belongs to the National Trust. It's very popular with walkers and people love to bring barbeques and picnics, especially on such a superb day as this turned out to be. We rode along tracks through woodland, but also wide tracks overhung with trees, which was good as we had some shade. And Barnaby went like the clappers. I was trying to hold him back as this was Millie's first time out with another horse, and Sam wasn't sure how fit she'd be, but Barnaby was determined to catch up with every horse ahead of him. In the end I gave up trying to fight him and we gradually overtook other riders. He had an unbelievable turn of speed, even in trot, he hardly needed to canter. The ground was so flat he just flew along, it was like being out hunting. There was a log near the end and I was seriously tempted to jump it, but I wasn't sure about Sam and there were loads of people having a picnic there. It seemed a shame to go carting through them! The thing is, I really wanted to aim for a good speed, but couldn't really, and we did it in 2 hours 39 minutes, which I think is quite slow. If you're going to be any good at it, you'd have to trot most of the way and hardly ever walk. They probably don't stop and drink either, there's probably some way of drinking as you go along. You'd have to be prepared to trot down hill sometimes too, which I'm not very keen on. The direction markers were really easy to follow, but I did like looking at the map, and knowing when each checkpoint was imminent. The only bad bit was that my whip kept getting caught up in the string of the map case, so I might not take a whip next time, it was very off-putting. We had to ride through a really big ford, but luckily the water was shallow. Barnaby has actually been here before and went straight in without hesitation. To give her her due, Millie went in too, and she's never seen water like that before. It's obviously Monday now and I'm only just coming down from the adrenaline. It was like a cross country course that went on for ever! Although it was mega fast, I really, really enjoyed it. So the plan is, when they do the Novice Challenge at Sherwood Pines, I am going to have a go at doing it as a competitor. Barnaby had Sunday off, and I've ridden him today. He was fairly stiff and content to walk most of the way round, which shows he's overdone it slightly, but if he won't listen to me and slow down, that's his problem, silly Hoof. I love him, I'm totally proud of him, and I can't wait to do it again...


  1. Sounds like such fun!! Nothing like having a solid, enthusiastic horse under you for a ride like that! Way to go, Barnaby!

  2. That sounded really great.


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