The official mantra of the AERC is "To Finish is to Win." The core of the sport in my mind is horse and rider versus the trail. I started my adventure with this mind-set and somewhere in the process got caught up in the competition aspect which has translated over to my horse which has been a bad mistake. I am a very competitive person, and honestly need a a goal or a signpost to drive me forward in anything that I do. In my work life it would be appreciation and pay increases, in my personal relationships closeness and connection, in my horse life? It was the drive to succeed on our own personal level, until I'm presented with a competition, and then I'm wanting to out do my last personal best. This is unfair because my last "personal best" honestly has more to do with the horse than anything I've been doing. I've lost the vision and the goal which should be more like our best on the given trail, on a given day, on a particular horse, with all other riders put aside and out of the equation. I can honestly say that until I can embrace that mindset I will continue to feel like a failure at this sport. When I look at what I truly value in a horse those aspects all lean toward the definition of a turtle rider except for the one thing that drives me which is "competition." I'm in a personal fix hmmmmm?
So what is the symbolism of a turtle? Strength, stability, patience, and longevity. All of these terms are synonymous with "To Finish is to Win." To complete a ride all that is needed is the strength to get the horse through, the patience to do what it takes to get to the finish, the stability of mind for horse and rider to relax into the moment rather than looking forward or backwards. The previous traits will give the long-term goal of longevity. It all seems so simple really.
So having had a lot of time to think lately I've been wondering...why are the turtle riders of endurance not more celebrated (given awards)? I'm only a little bit familiar with the mileage awards for horse and rider on the regional level and how all that works. But on the more immediate level, on awards night at a ride only the top five finishers are generally recognized, and the best condition horse is chosen from among the top pool that day. The fastest horses are recognized, while the larger slow to moderate group gets their completion t-shirts. I'm not faulting this process in any way, but I'm curious that the slow riders retain their patience to go on ride after ride, year after year, as humble turtles, riding their own best rides. It must be intrinsic in them that they are unfettered by the actual competition aspect around them, and that they have learned to be happy with their horse's "best" on that given day. In my mind I see the comparison as something akin to a Wallstreet Trader and a Buddhist Monk, not which one is right, but which one would you rather be?
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