Tracey Ryan and Clonylon Blue

We are sure many of the EGB members will recognise our next winner, Tracy Ryan, although 2017 was her first and at the moment only Endurance season, she certainly made an impact by being our brightest Lancashire ambassador, travelling around the country with her colourful steed bringing some sunshine to our often wet and dreary ride weather! Did you spot Tracy and Connie in 2017?
Tracy and Clonylon Blue (Connie) were awarded 5 trophies in total (wow! What a season!) including The Pepper D Trophy awarded to the horse or pony other than registered Pure, Part or Anglo Arabs, which has successfully completed the greatest number of non-competitive kilometres in EGB Lancs Group approved rides. The Tarka Trophy, for the coloured horse or pony, which has successfully completed the greatest number of kms in all classes of competitive and EGB Lancs Group approved rides and, along with pairs trophies, Tracy also won the Lancashire Rose Trophy, for overall highest non-competitive Senior Lancashire Rider, who has successfully completed the greatest number of kilometres in the 2017 season.
Tracy has written a wonderful insight into hers and Connie’s Endurance experience and it shows just how much team work matters…
“How did that happen?!
 
On the 27th January 2018, at the Lancashire EGB Awards Night, Connie and I received 5 trophies. I’m a 53 year old registrar for births, marriages and deaths with a questionable idea in fashion! Connie is a 13 year old Cob x Irish Sports Horse. And together we are everything you wouldn’t necessarily expect to win any sort of endurance trophy. So how did it happen?
 
Connie and my 2017 season started on 18 February as one half of Team WTF (yes that does stand for what you think!) with Nicky Clarke and Indyanna at West Riding’s Aldham Mill ride with a short 20km leg stretch. Nicky and I had set our sights on the National Pleasure Pairs Trophy and had decided that the best way to keep our trusty steeds fit was to ride every weekend there was a ride on. Trust me when I say there is a ride available every weekend if you’re prepared to travel! By the beginning of May at the Cheshire Frolic ride we had, both individually and as a pair, completed 450km.
 
Then disaster struck. Nicky had a family trauma and her endurance season was abruptly cut off. All of a sudden it was decision time for me. Those who know me know I experience acute anxiety attacks. I had never ridden an endurance ride with Connie on my own. But I also knew that if I didn’t grab the opportunity and continue riding I would never attempt this sort of mileage again. So the Notts Group ride at Thoresby Hall on the 14th May was our first solo ride. I was truly terrified but I had a lot of support that endurance is so famed for, and I set us up to succeed. We were the third pair out and then followed 32km of me chattering to Connie all the way, but we did it, and that set the tone. We just kept loading up every weekend. Sometimes for the whole weekend, meeting friends along the way, some of whom rode with us, and we just kept clocking up the kilometers. Our adventure came to an end at Lions Tail. Connie had developed a shallow lump at the side of her spine just behind her whithers on the second day at the Provost Lodge ride in August. The vet had put it down to a fly bite and it didn’t cause Connie any discomfort. However, this swelling appeared again on the second day of Lions Tail in September and I was convinced it was due to pressure of the saddle. Like you all, I have Connie’s saddle checked twice a year, but when you considered the mileage she had done I decided her body had done enough. And, to be perfectly honest, even though I had my anxiety under lock and key, it was making a determined effort to escape. So, our season finished on our terms and before either of us were both broken.
 
My pride knows no bounds. Connie and I are riding proof that anyone can enjoy and succeed in endurance. My proudest feat is that Connie is barefoot (and no boots) and bitless. She was never vetted out, always coming home sound even when we’d ridden 64km over a weekend. She never refused to load on the trailer even though she had every reason to object. But, the important thing for me to always remember is that Connie and I didn’t do it on our own. Although Nicky’s endurance season had ended, what you guys couldn’t see or hear were the phone calls I got enroute to every ride wishing me luck and helping me believe in myself. What you also couldn’t see or hear were the phone calls on the way home congratulating me and celebrating the successes with me even though I knew she was desperately disappointed not to be with us. For me she is the epitome of everything good in endurance. If it hadn’t been for circumstances, Nicky would have been stood on the podium with me for every single one of those 5 trophies because our mileage would have been exactly the same. However, even though Nicky and I had to give up on our dream of Team WTF’s National Pleasure Pairs Trophy attempt, we did win the Lancashire EGB Max and Kitty Pleasure Pairs trophy so all was not lost for Nicky.
 
Connie and I are now off for a bit of ‘us’ time and there will be no endurance for the foreseeable future. How could I ever beat last season! But we will be back. And, if any of my equine friends ever ask me to suggest a competitive discipline for themselves and their equine partner, I always say endurance riding. Nothing has given me more pleasure than the people I have met and the friends I have made, both human and horse. I hope you’re all very proud of yourselves because we at the grass roots are what makes endurance the fantastic sport that it is.”
Well done Tracy and Connie and thank you for brightening up our 2017 season! Everyone keep their eyes open over the next couple of weeks for a spotlight on the Pleasure Pairs Trophy, where we will get to see the other half of this partnership, Nicky Clarke…