I've posted the link to this article under my favorite links near the top of this blog. It is an insightful article by a "Rookie" endurance rider about the risks we take when endurance riding, other people's perceptions, and the importance of knowing your horse, knowing when to stop, and say enough is enough, you can always ride another day. The article touched me on a personal level as the horse I'm bringing along is going to want to be one of the competitive ones, while I am of a more laid back, let's finish....even if it is slow as a turtle sort of rider. Phebes will be one of those horses at risk for going faster than she needs to in a herd situation.
Endurance is an extreme sport no matter how you pick it up and turn it around and look at it. It is not for an unconditioned horse. Endurance is a sport that pushes the boundaries of horse and rider limits. Don't ever doubt that horses that excel at this sport are athletes, and riders who excel with their horses ride smart.
Do horses die at endurance rides? I have been blessed in my limited experience that I've never seen a serious problem at an endurance ride. But any horse that is performing at that athletic level will be at some degree of risk. I feel that the vet checks are only one criteria of how well your horse is doing, that the rider of the horse after many hundreds of training miles should know their horse, and recognize when something is "different". Different = Danger is a pretty safe mind set to take. Your horse has no appetite? Your horse isn't drinking? Urine is dark, thick, or otherwise out of the normal range for your horse? An ordinarily eager and forward horse has lost interest in moving out? DING DING DING! The danger bell is tolling. Heed what you are hearing and seeing, then do the right thing for your horse. There is always next time. The mantra is "To Finish is to Win", but I feel that the most important mindset is "Ride Your Own Ride." There lies your safety net for a happy, healthy horse at ride's end.
With all that being said, these things apply to any discipline of equine competiton and trail riding. Things can happen, horses can be over-ridden, accidents can happen. Our horse is at risk every time we saddle up. Endurance riders are among some of the wisest and insightful horseman and horsewomen I've met. If you are a newbie starting out (like I am) dip into that deep spring of knowledge, and ride safe! ~E.G.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association