Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Path to the Top - Royal Rebellion

would like to blow a trumpet for all those who have a horse not
'bred in the bone' for endurance but have persevered with a horse who
they believed in

The story starts just over four years ago when we bought a four year
old Anglo Arab unseen (apart from some photos) from an internet horse-
selling site for 1500 pounds delivered. HIs registered name is Royal
Rebellion but we were going through a Magic Roundabout phase at the
time and called him Mr McHenry.

We broke him in and he stumbled a lot especially walking down slopes,
so we got in a physio who said she suspected he had all sorts of
problems in the stifle area and to give him a year off and see if
they improved. Which we didn't but did a year of walking barefoot
instead. Took him to France when we moved here four years ago where,
as a five year old and then a six year old he went through the French
qualifying system of a 20k followed by 40k followed by a 60k followed
by two 90k rides. The 90k has a pulse parameter of 56 and, in four
out of his six attempts, he failed the final vetting due to his pulse
being 60bpm. He had always passed the Ridgeway at vg2 with readings
like 52/48 or 54/50 but as he always started the ride with a pulse of
48 there wasn't much room to play with!

Anyway, fast forward to last August when Richard took him to his
first 120k at Tarbes and they qualified easily; 23rd out of 80 (but
still finishing with a pulse of 60, though it didn't matter for that
longer distance as the parameter was 64).
We then took him to Calais but withdrew after four loops as he wasn't
enjoying it and his parameters were too close to the limit for comfort.

He still stumbled more than one would have liked but is a nervous
fellow who paid more attention to other things than the state of the

Fast forward again to spring of this year when we sold him and he
went off to Dubai where we'd been assured they would appreciate and
spoil him with carrots and attention. He was a very very long way
from being traffic proof and, with that on our conscience, he could
never have gone to anybody in the UK, though we were approached.

Fast forward again to yesterday when he did his first ride for the
new owners and it was a 3* in Al Wathba with 92 other horses. At 8,
he was one of the youngest, and being ridden by the trainer's
brother. We were following the ride from freezing France on the
website and cheering to the cats as he came into vg1 in 7th position
at over 25kph.

Fast forward to the end when the nervous horse from Wales without a
drop of endurance blood in his veins crossed the line over 2 minutes
ahead of anyone else and pulsed at 58. He is down as having averaged
24kph but unlike most rides where the clock stops at the line, they
judged the finish as a vet gate (ie, though he crossed the line first
the time was calculated to when he presented six or seven minutes
later - does anyone know if this is going to be the new way of
judging speeds? It was the first time I'd seen it.)

Many of you met him over the years and know what an absolute sweetie
he is, we miss him tremendously but are happy that he no longer has
to cope with being bottom of the pecking order. Or the cold weather,
which he never enjoyed.

Apologies to those to whom this has not been remotely interesting but
I hope it gives inspiration to those who suspect that it's nurture
not nature.

Nicky (and Richard who rode, and sometimes fell with him, at every
ride up til yesterday!)

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