...and the challenge is this - to take part in a 40k endurance ride round Ullswater in April. As challenges go, this is right up my street. I love horses, I love riding, I love the Lake District - why on earth would I refuse? Ah but there's the small matter of getting not just myself fit after a slothful winter but also my horse. He's normally quite a fit chap - likes to keep moving, likes to keep active. But he too had to suffer the stir-craziness of being stable-bound by frosty, icy roads (and a neurotic mother who wouldn't let him venture out onto the nasty hard rutted field, just in case...) Consequently - we have quite a ways to go - and not very long to do it in.
My original intention was just to get him fit and ready to rehome - it never even occurred to me that I could ride an ex-racer. I thought he'd be far too hyper and hot-blooded for me. But he's a gent -an absolute sweetheart. oh yes he can have his moments - he is a horse after all, he does have feelings and little moments of impatience such as when he wants to go faster than a trot and I don't - and I can actually hear him snorting the words 'Oh for God's sake Mother!' But usually we get along pretty well together.
We've been together for a couple of years and in that time we've done lots of hacking, a fair bit of low-level showjumping, tiny bit of dressage, some cross-country - and he's turned out to be a bit of a dude at western. So he's a real all-rounder. But - apart from a couple of very enjoyable pleasure rides (when his brakes went awol) this will be our first go at endurance.
I'm doing this through the Cumbria branch of Endurance GB - but if at any time you fancy finding out more about the sport itself or the national body, there's loads of good stuff on their website - www.endurancegb.co.uk