... just a little bit, and then realises it could possibly be because of the rising trot she'd been doing for quite a large part of a 28k pleasure ride just the day before. Yes - t'is true - my boy Bounce and I have done our first ride with Cumbria Endurance and we have not only lived to tell the tale - we both positively loved the experience. Any slight fears that he might not be quite fit enough proved groundless as he trotted along like a good 'un with ears pricked and determination in every stride. Frankly I reckon he'd have been quite happy to go round the whole ride again, especially if he could have persuaded me to LEAVE THE BRAKES ALONE!
The ride was at Mockerkin near Cockermouth and true to form I got lost on the way there - twice. First of all I nearly ended up in Cockermouth. Then I nearly ended up in Whitehaven. Then I really did end up in Mockerkin, which is a beautiful little village, but has the kind of twisty, twiny, up-hilly roads that made me enormously grateful I was driving a nice little horsebox and not towing a trailer. My thanks to the farmer who helped me to turn-round and head back the way I'd just come...
Did eventually find the location - and met many of the Endurance gang and discovered that it's completely true what they say - this is a very friendly and helpful sport. It's also a very inclusive one - you'd be really hard-pressed to pick out a 'typical' Endurance rider or indeed horse, because all sorts do it - and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Must also congratulate the organisers for sorting out the most perfect weather - bright, clear and cool with perfect visibility over the enchanting Lakeland countryside and not a pesky fly in sight. I frequently became so entranced with my surroundings I completely forgot to look where I was going, so it's just as well I was riding with Ros Denby, Chair of the Cumbria group and highly experienced Endurance person, who kept a close eye on her map, never missed a single marker along the way and managed to hook me back whenever I was in danger of straying off the track.
Our two horses were a pretty good match - my ex-racer Bounce and Ros's pretty coloured part Arab Yoffi are both keen, forward-going chaps and apart from the odd 'Yeah, who do you think you are anyway' flick back of the ears and sidewards evil-eye glance, they rubbed along together fine. On the odd occasion when we saw other riders up ahead, I had to convince my lad that he really didn't have to overtake them and beat the rest of the park to the finishing line, and when we found a nice uphill stretch I admitted defeat and let him have his head for a while - but apart from that, he was a bit of a star and I was delighted with him.
At the end of the ride I was given the choice between a bar of chocolate and a rosette - it was a tough call, but it had been a special occasion and I wanted something to mark that, so the ribbons are now adorning the wall in my office. And very pretty they look too.
Here's a couple of pix taken during the ride - just look at that sunshine and scenery - and the great big grin on my face. Says it all!