My big ride diary and the first of the pics

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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Diary Day 1 - We were up at the crack of dawn to feed jess and mani, then back home to feed ourselves and back to the yard for 7am to get ready. The horses were quiet and chilled, happily standing to be saddled, we thought they might be pinging out of their skin having had a week off work but as usual they were perfectly mannered. On we get and off we go.


We hadn't even made it 4 miles from home before we met the first idiot driver, on a single track road, easily doing 60 this girl decided slowing down wasn't necessary but swerving up the gravelly bank around us far more appropriate, it's a good job our horses are as good as they are.

We got on to Harling drove, the first part we have ridden before as it's one of the links for our training rides, we crossed the A134 without fuss and followed the lane to wretham, off the road onto the stinkiest track ever and we went through Norfolk Wildlife Trust property which was lovely, Jess wasn't entirely sure the sheep should be looking at her like that and had a bit of a fidget but soon settled back to her normal self. Over the next road was our first water point, we spent 45 mins looking for the trough the chap had said we could use but couldn't find it so gave up and decided to push on as it wasn't a hot morning so the horses were fine. We decided to move to the end of peddars way for our first break, as we were trotting along Michelle's nerves were nagging at her and in her haste to canter Mani she hung on and booted him and he just doesn't tollerate being bullied into doing things and objected with a little buck which of course fried Michelle's nerves even further, so on our break we agreed to just take it easy for the rest of the day.

We pushed onto peddars way and we then passed Thompson water which was to be our 2nd water source, the flys were horrific and the water was pretty stinky, Mani drank a little but Jess refused to, I knew she needed a drink as she kept stopping in puddles and nosing the water but it was all substandard as far as she was concerned and she wouldn't drink. Next into wretham training grounds, it's a really pretty area, we had our eyes peeled for green men jumping out of the bushes (there were a few) then we heard the chinooks flying over head, they sound like gunfire up close and we were close enough to wave at the pilot, again good thing our horses are rocks because from the number of laps they did over us I was starting to wonder if they were using us for target practise!

Next we passed through the back side of Merton park which was lovely, we stopped for another picnic break on a nice grassy track and enjoyed the now gentle sunshine. Next on to watton, it was pretty easy going for this last section, Jess was getting more and more eager the further we got from home, she really loves this work. The road through watton was fun, some people are such plonkers, a lady on a scooter decided it's was fine to squish between us and oncoming traffic, I'm glad michelle yelled at her behind as Jess has a bit of a thing about scooters, they are fair game if they get too close to her and she will take a swipe at them, the lady decided to wait after being yelled at by Michelle and glared at by me. The next stretch was all 60mph roads from watton to north pickenham, we walked the straight bits and pushed on at a good trot when visibility was limited. We met trucks, double decker busses, cement mixers and a few morons but most of the traffic was great about slowing down and moving over for us and the horses didn't bat an eyelid at any of it.

We made it in to our first nights camp with bright happy horses, when they walked on to the 10acre meadow which had been freshly topped for us you could almost see them grinning. Their water wasn't ready when we got in and jess was so desperate she went to drink her lavender wash water and got shooed off it, after that when we brought her some water she wouldn't drink it, so all feeds were made up super sloppy from there out. Camp was nice, very peaceful with the river running through the bottom which was ace as we could take the horses down to stand in it, they almost fell asleep in it and didn't want to get out. We had a pleasant evening with yummy chilli for dinner and sat watching the ponies contentedly munching on lush grass, something jess doesn't get normally because of managing her cushings but given she just did 28 miles I think we can let her off. Her corral was void of grass by morning, so I guess she enjoyed herself!
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Jessey

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Diary day 2 - we planned to set off later on day 2 to give the horses as much down time as possible, but late on night 1 I noticed a bruise on Jess's back, I iced it that night and got up at 4 am to ice it again, had another couple of hours sleep before we ran to a local tack shop for some arnica and witch hazel gel for her and iced it again. We started to pack up camp about 10am but I wasn't happy with Jess's back so decided to have mum meet us about 8 miles further on and about 11.20am I hiked out with Michelle riding mani.

We climbed the hill out of the village and were immediately swarmed by flies including lots of horse flies, I got bitten on the bum through my jods as I walked and spent the whole time smacking them off jess.

We got to the A47 at about noon ready to cross onto a track opposite only to find there was a locked gate blocking our way, we could have turned back and gone up another mile or two to the next crossing but it probably would have put another hour on what was already fixing to be a long day so we decided, given the horses had been great with traffic the day before to push along the A47 (which is the main road link around north norfolk) to the next turning for Sporle. The traffic was mayhem, trucks, caravans, buses, you name it we met it but the horses were absolute superstars, neither fussed even when there were lorries revving 10ft behind us waiting to pass, I am certainly glad I went to the gym a bit as the last stretch to our turning I felt we needed to get a wriggle on so I ran with jess in hand, even when we got into the middle with traffic either side of us doing 60 the horses were great, I was dripping by this point and we stopped in the next village for me to catch my breath with an ice cream.

From Sporle we took quite lanes onto a bridle path through farms, jess was being so good I didn't have to lead her making it easier for me to walk at the 4mph the horses normally walk at, I was really pleased we were still managing to keep at about 17 minute miles even with me on foot as I was concerned I would slow us down a lot.

Back onto the lanes we crossed the next main road towards castle acre, only to be faced with what to me looked like a mountain to walk up, so I handed jess over to Michelle and tailed her up the hill, she was very obliging for which I was very grateful as I hadn't practised it with her at all and she's not generally a horse you want to hang around the back end of.

Down the hill into the village and the thought of a cool stream kept me going, mum was waiting for us at the ford in castle acre with cold drinks and a sarnie. There was quite a drop off from the road into the ford and as much as I tried to lead jess in from the foot bridge she didn't like the drop off so I pinched mums flip flops and went for a paddle and jess followed me in. Mani wasn't having any of it, water isn't something he is massively confident with so not overly surprising, so michelle rode him over the foot bridge and took him in from the other side which was a slope in rather than the drop the other side and he happily went in and had a big drink. We loitered here for ages, putting cold water on Jess's lump and hoping she would drink as she had drunk very little the night before and it was a pretty hot day again, even after an hour and a half she was still just stood in the water splashing and soaking everyone so we decided to continue.

We walked up to the truck and I decided to try saddling jess as she certainly wasn't as sore now and she is generally good at telling me if she doesn't want to be saddled. Gingerly I saddled her and she was fine, I didn't risk putting the saddle bags on as I think the weight of those on the back of the saddle contributed to the lump. I didn't want to get straight on so walked for a few minutes up to the village green where there was a bench I could use to get on from and grass in case she objected to my weight, thankfully she didn't at all.

We continued on Peddars way towards great massingham, we decided to follow the road on the headland of a field and had a good trot along, unfortunately we got to the end only to find we couldn't get back on to the road and had to double back loosing all the time we had made up along there. Back onto the road we were swarmed by the most annoying flies ever, they weren't biters but were really really annoying, swarming all round the horses and our heads.

We had arranged for mum to meet us again on peddars way near massingham so I could check Jess's back again, as we approached we realised we had arranged to meet in the midst of a pig farm, thankfully the horses weren't bothered too much as long as they couldn't see the pigs so we just parked them on the lane between big hedges and made them some very sloppy feed in an effort to get some fluids into jess and iced her back again but it didn't seem any sorer and the lump had actually reduced a little. A very nice young lady came out from the house there and offered us water which was very good of her.

We decided from there we should push right through to the next camp which would give mum time to get ahead and set everything up, we had about 15 miles to go.

Back on peddars way, more quiet lanes until we broke onto some pretty rough tracks, they weren't terrible but compacted stone and uneven so we couldn't get any speed up, the hedges got higher and higher and it felt like we were in a tunnel, we got bored and the horses got bored too, jess kept trying to duck off onto any other track we passed, the further we went the tunnel got narrower and although grassy now there were lots of rabbit holes so speed wasn't much of an option. This tunnel lasted for hours, not my favourite part of the ride! We met 2 people with 2 dogs who happily told us one dog was fine but the other likes to bite and chase horses as he does it all the time on his farm, I said my mare might kick and the guy shrugged and said that would be the dogs problem! I sniped back if it got me thrown off it would be his problem and they then quickly walked past, still with the dogs loose and their leads in hand.

It was about 7pm by the time we got to a point where the tunnel seemed to lessen, we stopped to give the horses a few minutes to graze and pull their saddles off so their backs could cool as it had been a long uphill drag. At 7.20 we saddled back up and pushed on, we were talking about the plan if we didn't make it to camp by dark at that point as we had made such slow progress through this section, the horses just hadn't wanted to walk out like normal and kept wanting to stop and go other directions and Michelle and I felt pretty deflated. We saw another dog walker (a nice one this time) and asked how far the next village was, when he said it was only a mile it really perked me up as that meant we were only about 5 miles from camp :)

We decided to divert off of peddars way as the tunnel had been mentally so tough on us all, we turned onto the roads again and the horses were happy to trot out even after 22 miles on the trail, I think they were defiantly as pleased as us to get out of the tunnel. Happily I had already mapped this as an alternative route and checked our access, we found or way pretty easily until the last stretch where we could see the farm we were aiming for across the fields but the tracks leading to it were all marked as footpaths, not wanting to upset the owner before we even arrived we stuck to the roads for another mile and a half until we came to a track which wasn't marked for the farm but I thought it went the right direction, I'm glad I had looked up the Endurance GB Website the week prior and knew they had ridden from the farm recently, we picked up their ride markers and followed those in.

We got in camp at about 8.15, it felt such a relief after a really tough afternoon, we got the horses washed off and settled in a nice paddock and spent the evening up and down giving them salt mash, changing rugs then giving them another feed and a late pile of haylage and in between eating fish and chips from sunny hunny and checking our maps for the route on Thursday to the beach, we decided to do that loop in the opposite direction to originally planned, having seen the hill we would have to go up right out of camp, we thought it would be better not to tackle it on cold achy muscles. We fell into bed around midnight and slept soundly.

I'll post the other days diaries as I type them up, and the other pics when I download my camera and get mums and Michelle's pics too.
 
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Trewsers

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Wowser! What an epic journey. I will keep thinking of you and hope it continues without hassle. What good horses they sound with the traffic etc. Hope Jesses lump has gone soon.
 

Jessey

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Diary day 3 - due to the tides we can't head out early today, high tide was something like 11.40 so we planned to leave camp at noon which should get us there as the tide is a third of the way out. Mums friend Julie arrived early to help mum with camp and we had a lazy morning and a fat breakfast to set us up for the day. Michelle was starting to get nervous as we didn't know how mani might react on the beach, but a dose or two of rescue remedy settled the nerves and about 11am we started getting organised to head out, by noon we were on the road again, out of the farm into the village and the first thing I did was lead us the wrong way, not a good start but were didn't go far before I realised and we were back on track in just a couple of minutes.

We had permission to ride ringstead downs nature reserve, it was a green grassy valley and it was a nice gentle trail, we saw grouse (i think) but that was about it, there were a couple of gates so I coached Michelle and mani on opening them mounted, the first attempt took a minute but by the 2nd one they had it down to pat, not bad for an ex racer who would barely bend his ribs when asked and had no clue what backing up was when she got him just 9 months ago. Michelle also managed to get a little canter out of mani while jess and I trotted along. The only bad point about the reserve was that it was so sheltered there wasn't a breath of air so the flys were out in full force but it wasn't long until we were climbing the next hill.

Back on rough farm tracks we climbed the hill and the wind picked up, we were so near the coast now but still couldn't see the sea, I was so preoccupied looking for it we missed our turning so decided just to ride the coast road instead.

As we came into old hunny we could see the cars parked in the cliff car park so went that way to meet mum, Julie and Michelle's parents, only to find they had gone off already. Next thing I know mani has his eyes on stalks looking at the kites over the cliff, he starts coiling up and jogging and pinging along. We got back onto the road to head down to the life boat station access to the beach. Mani settled on the road (he is such an odd horse!) but as soon as the beach came in sight again his eyes were back on stalks, we waited at the top for a good 20 mins for him to settles but the poor chap didn't know what to do with himself.

We hopped off and walked the horses in hand down to the beach as there is one of those shops with seaside type stuff right on the path, plus a local school had brought the kids to the beach for their sports day and they were just the other side of the path, and it was pretty busy considering it was midweek. We found the others just as mani caught sight of the kites again and started pinging and pushing michelle all over the place. We walked down the beach and jess, having done all this before, had a snooze while Michelle walked mani round to try and calm him. After an hour of this Tracey arrived and I gave her jess as she knows jess well and took over with mani as he was still physically shaking from head to toe. Another mile of walking him in circles and making it very clear to him as to what the appropriate way to act was, he finally started to settle so I handed him back to Michelle and had her walk him for a few minutes before getting her on board. They had a walk and trot round us before I woke jess and got on and we headed along the beach to our exit point at holme. The rest of the beach section was uneventful as Michelle was able to quickly get mani's attention back when his mind started to wander again.

After 2hours on the beach we decided we definitely deserved a quick stop at the pub and they were really nice people, the landlord got us parked up on the grass round the back of the pub and brought the horses buckets of water. We pulled the saddles off and I gave jess to Michelle and went in to get drinks for us. The next thing I know I hear Michelle screaming my name and as I look out the window I saw mani go wandering past with no Michelle attached! Without paying for our drinks I bolt out of the pub to find Michelle squealing and flapping pointing into a garden, and there in the landlords private garden I find mani happily munching on his lawn :)

I retrieved mani and attached his reins to his nose band and went and paid for our drinks then came back out to look at the chaos. Mani had stood on his reins and broken both cheek pieces on his bridle. Luckily I had brought a survival bracelet for the ride and it was on my saddle, I was able to fashion a new bridle for him between the hysterical laughter and we were on our way pretty quickly.

On the final leg home Michelle plucked up courage to canter mani and he was a good boy so we both had a canter, jess took off like she had a rocket up her backside, I think she had been waiting to blow out the cobwebs, bless her she had been so patient. It felt like were were back to camp in no time after walking down the massive hill we hadn't fancied riding up that morning.

Back to camp we went through our well practised routine of sorting the horses out and settled down for a BBQ with everyone.

It wasn't until it was almost dark that we checked the forecast, and my worst nightmare realised, it was going to be really hot, 27c. With Jess's cushings she already sweats a lot and day 4's route was very open on roads and tracks with little shelter. We spent the next 3 hours debating how we might manage the ride, we debated leaving at 5am as dawn wasn't until 4.38, and perhaps riding half early then holding up somewhere through the heat of the day and riding the rest late in the evening, we looked for another route, and we checked every weather service we could hoping we had it wrong but as much as we agonised over it, I wasn't prepared to risk jess over heating and there just wasn't a shaded option so we decided to pull, trailer the horses to the next camp, give them the day off and push onwards on Saturday as that was mostly in the forest from there.


It was gutting but really the only option really given Jess's condition and this being our first attempt at a big mileage.
 

Jessey

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Diary day 4 - even at 4am it was hot already, there was a good wind but I didn't wake everyone as with the heat already I knew the forecast was right, I climbed back in bed for another couple of hours knowing we had made the right choice not to ride.

We got up again at 6 and fed the horses, had some breakfast and took the truck home to get the trailer, home was just over an hour away and with a quick stop to pick up Jess's other saddle it took us all morning. When we got back Michelle and I sorted the horses while mum and Julie went to get more diesel.

The horses loaded and travelled easily, the winds made it a bit nerve racking in places as it was battering the trailer. But we made it to next camp by mid afternoon non the worse for wear. The horse stood patiently while we figured out where we were setting up camp as the owner wasn't about as she had been stuck in traffic.

We got the corral set up and camp organised and went to enjoy the lovely showers before Michelle's other half brought us a curry for dinner. We got the hoses set for the night which didn't take much as there was tons of grass for them.

We re packed our saddle bags so we could carry all we needed on mani so jess didn't have to carry anything extra and had a couple of drinks and fought off the June bugs until bed time.
 

Jessey

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Diary day 5 - we were up early and horses fed to be ready to leave by 8am, it was raining but after the heat on Friday we weren't put off. We got all out gear together and brought the horses up to camp to saddle up.

As I pulled Jess's rug off my heart sank, what was a fair size lump the last few days was now pretty huge, it felt like jelly under the skin and she generally had a miserable demeanour and it was a little sore. In desperation I tried icing it, if it had reduced straight away I might have tried saddling her, but after 15 mins of ice it hadn't reduced at all. I wasn't sure what was going on given it had increased in size with a day off so we made the difficult decision to pull from the ride after just 75 miles.

We packed up camp in the rain feeling pretty miserable, I was worried stiff I had done some serious damage to poor jess. We loaded the horses in the trailer and headed home. Before we even finished packing up camp e had called a vet to come to our home yard later in the day.

We got home fine and the horses were happy to be there, they both had a trot round the field and a good roll before tucking into the grass.

The vet came mid afternoon and said jess has a heamatoma or blood blister from her saddle, but a week off, more ice and arnica and she should be fine and, with another new saddle, back on the trail soon so we have decided that we will trailer back to the point we left off on day 4 and finish the ride once she has healed up.

So in all we had a good ride, we enjoyed ourselves as did the horses it was just unfortunate that we had to cut it short but with everything crossed, it's a relatively simple problem to resolve and we will be back out there in no time. Other than Jess's back, the horses coped really well, they weren't stiff or sore, they had plenty of go in them even at the end of our 28 mile days they were bright and chirpy which I was very pleased with.

I'll upload the rest of the pics later x
 
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Jessey

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I'm still gutted, but the ponies come first and I know we made the right decision, what's even more gutting I've only had the saddle a few months and it's been checked 3 times for fit :(
 

sjp1

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Sounds amazing, and even 75 miles is pretty good going you know.

I should think you get to know your horses and friends really well after being together 24/7.

Gutting about the saddle. Hope lump goes soon.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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What a shame that Jess had saddle problems. Well done to you for taking care of her and pulling out when you did. And what an adventure! Were you sore at all?
 

Kite_Rider

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Such a shame that you had to pause your journey, you know reading your diary made me think about the 'ride of the peacemaker' I think it was called, just so inspiring, thank you for sharing and hope you get to continue on your way soon :)
 

Jessey

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No I wasn't sore from riding particularly, slightly bruised bum after that many hours but nothing really to speak of, after 8 miles on foot at horse pace I had quite a blister on my foot that took a few days to settle down and very achy leg muscles but they didn't take long to settle once I got back in the saddle.
It was a great ride, I didn't want it to finish, Jess was such a good girly, she didn't put a hoof wrong and I know I can really trust her, she has been so tolerant aswell with me icing her back every few hours.
 

Jessey

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The pics aren't in sequence as I pulled them off both my phone and camera and from friends pics.
Harling drove
image.jpg
Jess on day 4 after our trailer ride image.jpg image.jpg
Peddars way, entering the tunnel image.jpg
The horrible flys near massingham image.jpg
Camp night 1 image.jpg
Tailing jess up the hill day 2 image.jpg
Jess walking unguided day 2 image.jpg
Nearing Thompson water day 1, our 2nd water stop image.jpg image.jpg
 
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domane

Gracie's mum
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Oh I am in awe of your stamina and resilience!!! Well done to you all. GREAT diaries.... I felt like I was there with you and it was definitely the right decision to cut the ride short. Get well soon, Jess. Looking forward to your pics....
 
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OwnedbyChanter

With out my boys life would be bland
Apr 16, 2009
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Wow what a story, sorry to hear that Jess was a little poorly but you noticed and changed your plan I am sure she appericated that. Plus like you said you can always go back and finish it off.

I know the flies can be more upsetting to the horses than any terrain can be and sometimes there is nothing you can do about them. but a huge well done
 
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