Barbara Austin and Bonnie Lass
This week saw the Branch Annual Meeting for Northumberland and Tyneside group. It was an emotional evening for me as in August last year I had lost my mare Bonnie Lass . At the BAM I was presented with a special Rosette with Bonnie's final mileage total on it, 5422 kilometres, wow what an incredible journey we have had.
We had started in Endurance in 2006 with a handful of pleasure rides and soon became hooked. So the following year decided to try some competitive rides. Bonnie was not your typical endurance horse, being Welsh Cob cross, but that did not deter her. We progressed from Novice to Open Level mainly at the lower distances, 30k and 40k rides, but we also did a handful of 50k rides as well. Living in Northumberland most of our rides were done in the northern part of the England and southern Scotland. The terrain can be challenging at times, but the countryside is incredible. It could be described as true Endurance country. Most years we managed in the region of 10 competitive rides and a handful of pleasure rides and gradually over the years the mileage crept up.
In 2012 our season was cut short when Bonnie went lame. However, with careful management she was ready and rearing to go again next season.
Five years on and still competing but I still had 2 goals. I was desperate to reach 3200 competitive kilometres and 5000 kilometres in all rides. A successful ride at the Cumbria Challenge in 2017 would see us achieve our first goal. After a rather stressful time at the final vetting, when the vet made us trot up three times, Bonnie was passed sound. The end of the year saw us reach our second goal when we completed the 5000 kilometres for all types of rides.
We may only have been competing at lower distances, but we have had the most amazing time over the years, picking up 9 Best Condition awards along the way and frequently being awarded ribbons and trophies at the end of season BAM. I am so proud of everything that she has achieved.
The plan for 2018 was to only do a handful of rides, but Bonnie had other ideas and felt better than ever. June saw us compete just over the border at Selkirk. This was to be her last ride. Unfortunately a short time after the ride she went lame and X-rays showed that her front fetlock joint had collapsed. Bonnie was truly one in a million. She was well known at rides in the Northern part of the country, she had the most amazing temperament and was so honest. She has left a big hole in my life but has left me with some wonderful memories. We have had some wonderful rides through beautiful countryside and made lots of friends along the way, this for me is what Endurance is all about.