Though I've been beating my LD drum for a couple of years now I still very much consider myself a newbie to distance riding sports. I also always hope that those who may frequent this blog keep my rambling ideas somewhat firmly tongue in cheek. Sometimes I "think" I know what I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a full-time idiot, but rather like to think just a part-time one. I don't always get it right. Ummm...I don't even frequently get it right. But once in a blue moon an epiphany smacks me right between the eyes, and when it does that is such a beautiful place to be! Starting the sport is not easy. Continuing in the sport is not easy. Mastering the sport is not easy.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle a newbie can face is being mentored by an advanced distance rider. Not because they don't know what they are talking about, but because what they are saying, or doing, is being filtered through the mind of someone who has not been there and done that. Let's take a training ride for example. If you mentor a newbie to the sport are you going to ride your (experienced) pace, or are you going to ride at finish is to win pace? What are you teaching that fledgling to the sport that may be attempting the sport for the very first time? My first mentored ride about gave me a heart attack! The wonderful lady who rode with me would have considered the training ride to have been slow paced, as she is an intermediate rider. For her more experienced horse it was probably tooth grindingly slow as we trotted out for ten miles. At the end of the day my first thought was I can't do this. I can't even stay balanced to post or two-point the trot for that long. Thankfully, my old mare had enough trail miles on her that she was no worse for wear, but I nearly went home and burned up my AERC card right then and there! What would have been good for me as a newbie would be to have been shown the pace I need to go to finish. Not to place. Not come in middle of the pack. But how to set my pace to cover just barely enough ground to relax and get the job done. I in fact am still struggling with that one issue a little. We are getting better as we get more rides under our belt, but figuring out how much ground we are covering, and when we can just relax and enjoy the view to this day is somewhat of a challenge because of my previous rider error. You notice I said "my" rider error. Not my mentor's error. As a result of my not saying "can you teach me how to rate for a slow finish." All I needed to do was communicate, but I in fact was so clueless that I just went along for the ride, and did it time, and time again.
Expectations can sure set up the newbie to fall on their face as well. There is a little bit of Cybil Syndrome in all of us, and it takes very little to tip a new rider into sniffing the dust and blazing on down the trail. It is in fact easier to drop the rein on some horses and let them run rather than fight for control. Galloping along is also a lot of fun, at least until you hit the vet check. You look around at all those horses that were galloping along in front of you and they are looking fresh as a daisy, and your horse is slathered in sweat, panting nostrils flared, and the vet is thinking "what kind of a twit do we have here?" I will admit to total mystification of how a horse can trot, canter for 25-100 miles and look like that at the finish. I see it happen with my own eyes, but it is a level of horsemanship that thoroughly escapes me, especially when the veteran rider says something like "I only condition 10 miles at a time, or I only ride on the weekends." I scratch my head, shuffle off, and want to lay under the tire of a four-horse rig. How do they do it? Please, don't tell me, I will only confuse the issue and I'll again think that I in fact can do that too.
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