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Bashira and Lisa Wilkinson
Photograph courtesy of David Saunders Photography https://www.saundersphotography.co.uk/
Bashirah should have been 12 years old by now, but because my Arab mare Sultanna refused to accept that her first foal was to be conceived through AI, she is in fact only six. In retrospect it is probably a good thing that she did not cooperate, as if she had then Bedouin would never have been born. It was apparent that Sultanna much preferred the amorous advances of a gypsy cob colt than the contrived donations of a supreme Arab racing stallion.
Unlike her half-brother Bedouin, Bashirah is not home bred but born at a farm in Leicestershire where Sultanna had moved to. Coincidentally this was just down the road from Anne Brown’s Gadebrook Stud where Sambist, my stallion of choice four years prior, was covering just a handful of mares a year in his retirement. When the farmer/breeder decided that a pure bred foal was too much for her, I simply had no choice but to buy this beautiful bay filly that I had always hoped to breed myself and she has now been back home with Bedouin and my old boy Jawhara since she was seven months old. Unfortunately she had already been registered as Saphire with one ‘p’, and not being to my liking I promptly changed her stable name to Bashirah, Arabic for “bearer of good tidings”, which pairs up quite nicely with Bedouin, meaning “Arab gypsy”.
Anyway, fast forward five years with Bashirah proving to be rather accident prone on a number of occasions, which subsequently set back my training and backing plans for her. I eventually managed to back her just before Christmas 2018. As I am sure you can imagine not an ideal time of the year as I do not have a manège and the weather conditions worsened before they improved.
So with a few weeks of gentle hacking under our belts, and not a single stride of canter, I decided to take Bashirah to her first solo pleasure at East Harling, hosted by Iceni EGB on 24 March this year. Looking back on the day - all of a couple of weeks ago, it seems a bit of a blur, as I needed to be completely focussed on Bashirah. We were blessed with excellent weather, and the route and going were fabulous. I even benefitted from the ever delightful company of Angie Raven on her lovely Luke, who encouraged us for a large chunk of the way round. Bashirah was such a good girl, even to the extent that when Angie parted company from us, she had no qualms about continuing on a different route by herself.
The venue, though not over busy, had plenty to keep a young inexperienced horse occupied and, even though I had taken the precaution of decorating her tail with various shades of green and red ribbon, everyone we met, whether on the ground or on horseback, were so supportive. So thank you Iceni for giving Bashirah the most perfect start to what I hope will be a long and successful life in Endurance, providing I can stay fit of course.
I entered Bashirah into her first GER at Kings on Sunday 7th April, still never having cantered her. The new foundation 20km ride was an ideal distance and it was even better when I discovered that Claire Freeman was accompanying her charming granddaughter Charlotte in the same class. Claire very kindly allowed me to tag on behind, and bearing in mind that Bashirah comes from racing bloodlines on both sides, I was thrilled to find that for the moment anyway, she was happy to keep her distance. She walked and trotted, eventually lengthening her stride, and then on voice command only she cantered! In fact she cantered with ease the entire length of the Queen Mary avenue leading up to the King George V monument, and she never put a foot wrong.
Her behaviour during the final vetting left something to be desired, as not only had it started to pour with rain but the canopy was obviously one stimulus too much for a young girl to cope with in one day. Bashirah finished her first GER at 10.4km/hr and a HR of 56bpm resulting in a completion, but for me it could just as well have been a grade 1. I am so proud of her and all she has achieved since last Christmas.
Stratford Hills Distance Training
What an amazing session, distance training at Stratford Hills with Maggie Pattinson of On The Hoof Training. It was my first time riding at Stratford Hills, but my horse Bert had been many times in his previous life as an eventer, and he looked longingly at the many cross country jumps littering the fields. None of that today though – we were strictly on the flat!
Maggie set us up with a radio earpiece (for me) and a heart rate monitor (for Bert) and off we went to start out with a series of warm up exercises at walk and trot, with Maggie talking reassuringly in my ear as we went. At first it felt rather exposed in the wide open space, but Maggie kept us so busy that we soon relaxed, adding sections of canter into our routine.
The second part of our session was spent on a wonderfully hilly area, with several ups and downs. With each exercise Maggie explained what we were trying to achieve, and how we can progress our training on our own back at home. It was hard work, for me and Bert both, but great fun. We will certainly go again.
The next session is on Friday 17th April. Enter now at the special rate of £40. You won't regret it!