Leanna Marchant and Samsons Fire.

Leanna Marchant and Samsons Fire.

My horse, Samsons Fire (Sam) is a natural athlete. He is courageous, tough and loyal. I believe he would give everything he has for me. I trust him implicitly. He takes care of us both.

Way back in 2004, I purchased him as a five-year-old gelding, who was one of the offspring of a stallion I was looking at breeding my mare to. Little did I know what I was getting myself into! The owner had sent him for training and the trainer sent him back saying he was unmanageable. He put one month’s training on him for me and then our journey began.

Sam has proved he has a mind of his own. The first years were full of negotiation and some long walks home (for me) until we learned what each of us needed from the other. After 10 years, I think we have it pretty well figured out.

The long term goal has always been to compete for Canada at the World Equestrian Games in the 100-mile endurance race. You cannot just buy a horse and do this, though. It takes many years of foundation training and a partnership to build. So, here we are, training for WEG in Normandy, France, on August 28th. I hope you enjoy following our journey this season. Training starts now!

First Ride of the Season

FINALLY, spring is here! The ice and snow have melted enough although the trail is still slick with mud. Time to start training! It’s a big year ahead and the late spring has led to a late start. I am stressed because to do the qualifying rides we need to do, we simply don’t have the time to get the miles of training in. Better late than never.

Fuzzy, springtime Sam!

Fuzzy, springtime Sam!

Sam is furry and shedding copious amounts of hair. He is also pleasantly plump after having a longer than usual break from competing and training. This is him before we start our year.

We head out for our first ride. I decide to go out on the roads, as the fields are pure mud and really slick. Can’t afford for him to slip on the first ride out and pull something. The roads are all asphalt, so the plan is to go slow as the steady pounding on his joints is something I also don’t want. Of course, he has other ideas – a little bit full of himself on the first ride of the year!

We head out at a steady jog until we see cows. Sam has seen plenty of cows, but these are different ones. Dead stop! Tension builds underneath me until I feel I am sitting on a stick of dynamite. He does the full Arabian blow, on full alert, warning the cows we are there. This attracts the attention of four horses on the other side of the road, who come blasting towards us. A full 360-degree spin on asphalt and I decide to err on the side of caution and get off! We walk past both lots of animals and a further 100 feet before he calms down enough for me to be able to get back on. Shaking my head, I wonder how we have been together for 10 years, down thousands of mile of trail and I still need to do this. Smiling to myself, I think: I love Arabians, never a dull moment.

The rest of our ride is uneventful although energetic. Two days later, we head out again. This time, I decide we will go to our neighbours’ field and see if it is dry enough to do some faster speed and maybe blow off some of that excess energy. We head into the field and I can hear the mud sucking at Sam’s feet. He shortens his stride and is occasionally slipping. We reduce our speed, but he can see his buddies from this field and decides that maybe, we should head home? I say no, and we head down hill, in the slick and I can again feel the tension building. By the time we hit the bottom of the hill, he just wants to run.

Slipping, sliding, mud-sucking, I hold him in and he stops dead and lets me know that upwards is the only way to release some energy! Laughing, I say loudly, “SAMSON, behave!” and push him forward. This stops the upward into a slick, very energetic forward. Then finally, heading homeward, beside the road, on a slight uphill, we find some dry land. We finally get to canter a little and burn some energy. t is always enjoyable and interesting ,spring training.

Our rides will get longer and tougher over the next couple of weeks. These were only our first warm-ups of the year. I watch my horses in the paddock as they rear, buck and cavort, letting me know that spring is finally here.