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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 22, 2010

Do you ever think deep on what we ask of our horses?

Photo courtesy of: Lida Pinkham

I do. Sometimes I question myself if my wants and desires are anywhere related to the well-being and happiness of my horse. I have doubts. But when I pick apart what these incredible athletic horses do, and how well some of them do it, I have to reconsider. It has been my experience that the sport of Endurance is very much not understood by riders of other disciplines who only look at what is happening on the surface. (*insert hushed voice *you know...those awful people out there running their horses in to the ground for 25-100 miles). But when next I'm on a training ride and I see those same people out on the trail with their well taken care of horse, and he's walking along, huffing and puffing up a hill at a blazing 2.2 mph I suddenly feel pretty good about my horse. It reminds me of one particular incident where I was coming in off the trail having done a conditioning ride, to the day ride area, on foot, leading my mare in. A woman on her big and beautiful quarter horse looks me over and says "aren't you supposed to be riding the horse?" To which I reply "I'm cooling her off, she just finished a training ride." The woman says "which loop did you do?" I reply "ALL OF THEM". Lady's mouth drops open, and she has nothing else to say. My girl is bright eyed, and could have joined her for her six mile loop if we'd wanted to, that is if her horse could have kept up with us *wink*. It is hard to say that endurance riders are doing their horses a disservice when they are either conditioning, thinking, talking, or reading about how to make their horses stronger, and healthier or spendng non ride time hours researching how to manage their horses, how to peak their performance, how to finish the ride healthy, and riding, riding, riding.

I respect endurance riders (which I as yet do not consider myself to be). They are dedicated horseman, and horsewomen involved in the most challenging and demanding equine sport out there. These folks will share their knowledge, help you through your mistakes, ride with you, and beat you at the end of the day with a smile plastered across their face riding an incredible athletic horse. There is something spectacularly beautiful about seeing a 70 year old woman cantering down the trail, grinning ear to ear, on a fit arabian horse.

If you are interested in a new discipline for your horse visit the AERC website for more information on membership and competition in your region of the country.


  1. Ha! I love this entry! I know exactly where you are coming from. My grandmother, Ann Cofield is an endurance rider and has been since about 40 years ago. She has always said that what doesn't kill us, "IMPROVES YOUR ENDURANCE." This was always motivation for me. I am so glad I found this blog. I am stuck in winter blues in Iowa...not able to get out and ride much, unfortunately. I look forward to mounting my baby boy again and YEHAWN' down the trail! :)

    Take care and happy trails!

  2. Welcome Rachel, stop in any time.


  3. Thank you for this post. When I think of what mr horse does for me, I want to just cry at the sheer heart and magnitude of the gift. It's just incredible.

  4. Great question, Jacke! And I beg to differ - YOU ARE AN ENDURANCE RIDER!

    As to what our horses do for us. Amaziing and if you pay attention your horse will let you know what he thinks about what we are doing "to them."

    Let's see, when I go to get my horse and he comes to me, especially when he is grazing out in a 15 acre pasture with his buddies, I take that as a good sign! When I go out to get him in the pouring cold rain and he backs up from his run-in shed to meet me at the gate (backing because he wants to keep his tail in the wind and driving rain, but still wants to come be with me), almost brought me to my knees how much he will do for me....

    But I hope that I do as much for him. I think he knows it. I try to listen and at the end of every ride/visit, ask "Was it as fun for you as it was for me." (quote from Pat Parelli)