Endurance riding in very wet weather is something nobody looks forward to but stuff happens… all looked reasonable when Sally took Mia off to Wales for a 2 day 130k in Camarthenshire on 20/21st May 2016. In retrospect and ever the optimist, Sally said “and 130k in those conditions is something very special”. It was to be their preamble to the Cairngorm 100 Ride in Scotland (where they came 2nd last year). To put the weather in perspective, it was so horrid that the event photographer took this header picture from inside her car, and ALL other 130k competitors dropped out. Here are a few tips by Sally Toye on how to make Endurance riding in very wet weather go swimmingly.
Cairngorm is a one hundred miles in 24 hours horse riding endurance challenge with some basic similarities to the Tevis Cup. In addition there’s a 50 and a 75 mile ride. In 2016, the start was at Glen Clova Hotel with the finish at Nethybridge i.e. riding in opposite direction as in 2015. Safely back from the Cairngorm 100, Sally wrote the following tips:
My Californian friends laugh at me when I talk about riding in the wet and for us in the UK it really is a fact of life. The good news is that now we have the gear!! At the first C100 ride last year I went woefully under clothed for me and didn’t have the correct shoes (I had trainers and fell over a lot) and not good enough waterproof trousers. This year I contacted Clive Pollitt the organiser and he suggested lightweight hiking boots and proper trousers. Armed with this and my credit card I had an amusing time in Snow and Rock running around their store until I found some simply gorgeous boot/trainer things from Salomen that supported and on the ride were waterproof. I know they were waterproof as I forded mud, slush and a lot of water and my feet were dry. I also bought some delicious Rab over trousers that are breathable over trousers and kept the wind and wet out and I didn’t sauna underneath! Some of the climbs were 900m so I was very grateful for them at the summit!
For Mia in severe weather I always warm her up and cool her down and her stable is a place she is very content. When riding I judiciously use the rump rug I have for her so that her main “engine” is warm but not too hot and in sideways rain it pays dividends with her. This is a little half rug that rolls up behind the saddle and from in the saddle I can unroll it and keep her dry and warm. I did practice this at home first in the dry!!
I don’t change her feed for the wet but I have noticed she really goes for something like fast fibre after these conditions. I guess fibre in the gut warms her up fast (like school/comfort food does with me!). I am truly stunned what this little horse does when I ask her too and the more time I spend with her (over 2000kms now in competition) the more I realise how important my attitude is. If I am up for it she will say yes, she has truly let me into her life and let me be her riding partner.
Sally Toye was invited by the Endurance GB Wessex Group to talk about Cairngorm 100 (Scotland) and Tevis Cup (United States). She was asked about preparation, comparison between the two rides, and so on. The below is the uncut version for all of whom who are interested and weren’t able to attend the talk on 6th December 2015.
Header picture by Sara Williams.