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

May 8, 2011

The Down-side of Endurance

I'm a rarity I guess.  My horse-life has been pretty much spread out on this blog for people to see.  Including my mistakes, blunders, heart-wrenching happenings, but also my successes.  Sometimes people wonder why...WHY would I put that on my blog?  My answer to that is that I wish that everyone else would.   The nature of distance riding is such that it is a challenging sport, and sometimes the outcome we wished for is not the outcome we get.  Stuff can and does go very wrong.  Ideally, it never does, but every time you look at ride results and 38/40 finished, then two horses ended up with a bad day.  But mostly nobody talks about it.  I'd like to say that they should!  I see each competition or training ride as a great big petri dish full of bacterial soup waiting to germinate.  Will it be good? Or will it be bad?   I've boiled down what happened to Phebes as "rider error."  Not the kicking myself stupid kind of mistake, but I've figured it out after the fact kind of mistake.  Too much time off after a 50 mile weekend.  I'll lay it out on my blog for all to see, because they may have a young  extremely fit mare with a hot temperment.  Maybe my honesty will keep them from making the same rider error.  People enjoy telling of their successes, and sometimes there are lessons in those, but more often we learn our valuable lessons from figuring out our blunders.  If we are steered away from blunder by those who have been there...done that...what a wonderful thing!  So we as riders need to share our little failures in hopes that someone else won't repeat that leg of our journey.  I was so happy to ride my Phebes yesterday, short as the session was.  Her soft collected little floating on air trot, it is magical.  Kissing her soft muzzle and gazing into her eyes and seeing her mommy in there is too.  Love your horses, and when you can help out a newbie to the sport by encouraging, or steering them away from disaster because you've been there, done that, please do.  Distance riding has been the most life changing, challenging, fun thing I've done with my life.  It has also been the most satisfying of any activity that I've participated.  It is an amazing sport, it has its hazards and pitfalls (kind of like life), but at the end of the day, as you cross the finish the pride in your horse and your accomplishment that day is immeasurable. 


If your horse competes hard on a weekend, and it rains a deluge for two weeks...give your horse no stall time post ride, and put on your heavy rain slicker, and ride your muddy horse at least 30 minutes a day.  Reduce feed to 1/3 of the normal ration,  and remove all grain products from the diet during the offtime (stick with straight roughage).  This is not a guarantee that your fit young mare won't cramp up...but you will hedge the bet in your favor. 

Someone should really write a book on the various pitfalls, how to avoid them, how to fix them, a book on the downside of an upside sport.  Until they do, I'm posting mine here. 


  1. I don't do endurance and never will, but I couldn't agree more with you about the benefits of being open and honest about mistakes and how we can learn from them. I try to do the same on my blog - I make plenty of mistakes but usually they lead me to useful rethinking of how I could do things differently and hopefully better.

    I enjoy your writings and honesty a great deal.

  2. And thank goodness you do share! I follow your blog religiously now and have started reading Funder's as well. I think its GREAT that people with different horses and goals in different areas are all sharing whats going on and their experiences, good and bad. I did an LD this weekend (went great, 24th out of 30 for my gelding's 3rd ever race, great vet scores etc) and though I'm normally shy, I love asking strangers about their leg wrappings, strategies, tack, anything at all because I love this sport and I want to learn! You actually inspired me to start my own blog tracking my progress with my horses. So keep at it! We're all reading with great interest! In case you ever want something else to read, also, my blog is :) Thanks for what you do!

  3. I know what you mean. My first 5+ years of endurance riding, my learning curve looked like a rocket shot.

    Tell you what: I'll try to do some posts about stuff I've learned "the hard way." Maybe that will help folks some?

  4. Do remember that every horse is different! What works for yours may not work for another. Nothing is absolute ~ it all takes time, patience & the willingness to learn from our mistakes~ We all make them.

  5. Awesome post E.G. I ride endurance and CTR. This is very timely encouragement, because I'm dealing with a potentially career-ending issue with my gelding right now and trying to figure out how to write about it in my blog :-(

  6. I like your philosophy about riding.

    But I do want to say that there's no way you could have known, even on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th straight day of rain that it would continue to do so for as long as it did. So I say to attribute the tye up at least in part to weather! When it rains like that it renders footing risky - who knows, maybe if you'd have forced through the rain and ridden anyway, she could have gotten some kind of lameness.

    You just never know what is going to come next, with horses and life, it seems.

  7. Nicole, actually that is exactly why I didn't exercise her. The footing was so deep that I was afraid she'd injure herself pulling through the deep mud, the creeks were flash flooding all that week, and it just kept coming :(

  8. Well said E.G and your right. It's easy to post about the things that go good because it makes us feel good, but we all have moments that are not so good or learning "opportunities". I have been around horses all of my life, and competed heavily in the eventing and hunter/jumper disciplines all through out my youth up into my early twenties. I can honestly say, endurance riding is a whole different world in the skills it takes and has challenged me in ways I would not have imagined.

    So thanks, for posting all your heart on your blog. It really does help.

    Hey- maybe you could start that book...

  9. I really appreciate reading about your struggles, actually. Like you say, I lurk around all the endurance people's blogs, and it is mostly sunshine and roses. :) I struggle with fear and frustration to some degree every time I ride (not to mention ongoing saddle fit problems, mysterious hind-end lameness, weight control issues, the price of gasoline, freezing nights tent camping, conditioning on highway shoulders with disrespectful drivers zooming past... the list goes on).

    Whenever I read a post about someone getting spooked off, or getting pulled at the completion check, or battling some behavior issue, it warms my heart a little. I'm not the only person that these things happen to!

    I try to think of it this way: If my horse were perfect all the time, I would never improve. He has made me a better rider and a more informed owner by being such a #$%%@head. :) If anything, I should thank him for it.

  10. good post - maybe YOU should be the one to write the book!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond