...into the conversation. Heavens - what else could you possibly have thought I meant? The aforesaid undergarments are obviously of prime concern to endurance horseriders, because they have now featured large in two conversations about the sport. The subject first came up as Nikki and I trotted our horses round the peaceful lanes and she passed on a few timely tips about riding kit. Then the K word made another appearance during my first meeting with Ros Denby - who chairs the local Endurance Group and has gallantly volunteered to buddy me round Ullswater.
It's not hard to see why knickers are so important - endurance riders are in the saddle for hours so the last thing they need is to be wearing anything that nips, rubs, pinches or in any other way causes discomfort. Thongs would most decidedly not be a good option! The rest of the kit is important as well especially since you can be riding in just about any kind of conditions from pouring rain to blazing sunshine, so layers seem to be the sensible way to go. Then there are all the things you need to carry with you - map, first-aid kit, bottle of water to keep you hydrated, mobile phone, watch - and those are just the very basics. Those who get seriously into the sport often have special saddles, bridles, numnahs and generally sport Global Positioning Systems on their wrists to boot. Oh yes and speaking of boots - it's a good idea to carry a spare one of those as well, in case your horse casts a shoe. Not exactly a sport that lets you travel light, but then you are trying to cater for every eventuality.
I really enjoyed the meeting with Ros - she's passionate about the sport and it shows. She's also, by her own admission, competitive, so while I'm sure she'll take my total inexperience into account, she'll still want us both to do our best.
So - are the nerves starting to kick in yet? You betcha. I know my horse, I know he can be solid as a rock and utterly dependable - but he can also get excited and antsy and hard to hold. To be honest I'm expecting him to show both sides of his character during the endurance rides. I'll just have to hope that we finish the ride together and in reasonable shape - that'll do me fine for the first one at least. I'll leave the fine-tuning for later.
Today's photo shows our senior dog Zara. She's a German Shepherd/Retriever and we got her from a local rescue centre just after we got married - instead of going on honeymoon! We've had her for 10 of her 11 years and she's as close to sainthood as any dog could be.