Just in case the woman I met stops by the blog here I wanted to share some beginning lessons on your first LD (please don't ask me to explain staying on trail *LOL*).
Pretty much any horse will do if your mentality and desire is to just finish. A horse with a leaner, racier body type will usually handle the distance better than the heavy breeds. That said I've seen percheron crosses, quarter horses, mules, mixed breeds, gaited breeds, all participating in the sport. If cumulative mileage is your goal, enjoy the horse you have, go slow, and just do it. If on the other hand you want to be competitive, a purebred arabian, an anglo-arabian, throughbred, or a half-arabian are your best bet.
Your horse needs to be well saddle broke, accustomed to rugged trail work, and easily handled by the veterinarian who will be checking pulses, handling the horse's mouth, legs, eyes and such. So work on these issues prior to launching into the vet checks (voice of experience of the wrong kind here).
Training and Conditioning
If you have been trail riding your horse for a season or two you can probably attempt a slow LD with about 8 weeks of serious conditioning. You will just gradually increase your horse's speed on trail until you can average about 6-6.5 mph over various terrain. Incorporate plenty of slow hill work into that training. If your horse can trot consistently over the flats, and you are conservative on your uphills you will be able to finish an LD. Just trot, trot, and trot some more. Figure about 25 miles of training/ conditioning a week split up over three or four days. Ride faster on the short mileage days, ride slower on the long mileage days. If your horse is out of condition you will need about 12 weeks to get the horse ready. But when your horse can consistently trot out for miles at a time, and you have been able to do 20 miles in four hours, you can feel assured that your horse will be able to finish a 25 mile LD. The horse should finish looking bright eyed and ready for more.
If you've never ridden one of these rides it is good to find a mentor to ride with you for your first ride or two, but if you are really trail savy and used to riding independently, you can just as well finish one alone if that is your preference.
To begin, equipment you have just needs to fit without chafing, or rubbing. So if what you have works, use it. If you become more serious about the sport you can chunk down a lot of money on various stuff... Talk to other riders about the equipment that is working for them, and it will save you unecessary and wasteful purchases. A few things that you will want starting out:
A large sponge for cooling your horse at water stops, or a cut down bleach jug on a string.
Water bottle holders for the saddle. Snug pax and others make these and you can find them at the Distance Depot, TSC farm stores, Rural King, and most suppliers like Valley Vet, Horse.com will have some variation of these.
Several water buckets and a large tote for the hold. A small cooler and some ice packs will keep your lunch fit to eat.
A fold up camp chair to sit in at the hold.
Horse trailer to get you there, and basic camping equipment or living quarters in your trailer.
Entry fees for an LD are about $55 (prepaid) to $65 for each day you ride.
Fuel to get there, and some extra cash on hand in case you require the services of a vet, which are unlikely, but can happen.
Those are the bare bones of it if you just want to give it a whirl, and see what happens. If you decide you like the sport and want to do it a lot you will want to invest in a biothane bridle set, biothane or beta breastcollar, a non-chafing girth, and a really good saddle pad (Skito pad, Woolback pad, Coolback pad, or HAF pad for example). You may want to change to a good fitting english endurance saddle, or light weight western endurance saddle. The lighter weight, and less surface area will help the horse's back stay cool and not build heat.
If you are ready for a 50 mile ride....that is completely out of my rhelm, and off my knowledge radar as I'm still trying to get a better result at 25 miles. For longer distances you can check the AERC website and get information there, or make contacts at a ride, or volunteer to help at a ride where you can learn all kinds of stuff. There are also plenty of endurance related websites that will have information on conditioning your horse, your first ride, and moving up to longer distances. ~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