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

June 12, 2011

Physical Attributes of an Endurance Horse...and other stuff.

Haiku Farm's previous post on buying an endurance prospect had me thinking bright and early this morning (5:35 am and I've been up for awhile) about the physical attributes of a distance prospect.  One or two mentioned "good bone."  I was really interested and surprised to hear that many prefer mares!  Only one other person (here on the ground) has ever told me they prefer mares for the sport.  Then I started thinking about Fiddle (mare), Dixie (mare), Farley (mare) and huh!  Some of my favorite blog buddy people indeed ride mares!  As I struggled along with my Phebes and her related drama at times I had two different men in the sport (one a ride vet, the other a competitor) tell me that Phebes biggest deficit was right between her ears.  They weren't being mean.  They were trying to get across that most important attribute a distance horse can have is a sane mind, calm attitude, and mental toughness.  The rest would follow to varying degrees if you have that.  My limited experience has found that statement above all others to be true, at least for my purposes.  The gelding I looked at last weekend physically had it going on.  He looked like CMK to the n'th degree. He was heavily Polish/Crabbet with KMPH thrown in.  He wasn't priced all that bad at $1200, but I saw that same emotionality in his eyes that Phebes used to have.  The ticking time bomb looking for a place to explode.  I make no apology for recognizing and avoiding horses that don't seem right. 

 Phebes is not the first horse that I have started under saddle.  She was the third horse that I attempted to build from the ground up.  The first one was a very calm baby that I had wearing a saddle  and bridle by six months old (before you get all postal on me, no rider, just saddle and blanket).  You could climb over him, under him, and share an ice cream cone "with" him.  When he was old enough to ride it was a matter of climbing on, and working on steering.  That was it! NO DRAMA. The next one was a 16 year old broodmare that had hammered the last person who attempted to start her (fractured her spine actually).   She eventually turned out to be a very nice ride (we went 2000 miles before she went blind)  and my heart horse.  Those in no way made me anything less than a beginner because I did not have the tools (or exposure) to finish them out. But I can get them going!  All of them understood leg (none of the potential horses except the last one had a clue what leg pressure meant), a direct rein, backing, and side passing.  I would not term myself as a rank beginner. Granted, my riding style probably isn't the greatest.  A muscular disorder and a balance disorder gives me real problems riding in circles or riding in the dark.  Sometimes I don't have the balance to get out of bed, though medication usually keeps it under control  I'm fine out on the trail, but get me on a circle for more than one lap, riding in the dark, or crossing flowing water and I might just fall off the horse!  No amount of lessons or drugs is going to sort that out (hence I avoid circles, riding in the dark, and flowing water), though I've given both a try on more than several occasions.

There are people out there in the bloggish-phere who seriously dislike me.  None of them know me personally.  The person who suggested the high price for a "decent" horse is one.  I don't know why really and yes, she had a horse for sale.  I liked the horse, but never made the drive to see him.  If he would have been suitable I cannot answer.  If I'd have been paying for pretty his chestnut coloration certainly had it going on, his legs were straight, but the longe line was tight you could have hung laundry on it to dry!

Today may pretty much dictate my future in the sport, at least for a long while.  If her royal spotted highness does not give me a good trail ride today, I will likely become  Endurance ACTHA Granny as I sit back and wait for the right horse to come to me, 'cause I'm done looking for the summer!  ~ E.G.


  1. I think you are a wonderful inspiration "Granny," (btw- you don't LOOK like a Granny in your profile pic, nor do you ACT like one!! I love you!!!!). I'm really sorry to hear that anyone would act like they can judge you. One thing about horses - it's a VERY personal journey. No-one can tell another HOW to do it. You can share what's true for yourself, but there is so much deeply personal about it - often inexplainable - such as you reading that gelding's eye. That's one of the gifts of loving horses, in my opinion.
    Thank you for blogging your journey! As I said- you inspire me!!

  2. I have been reading along on your blog and read some of the archives to get "acquainted" as well. I am really surprised that anyone in the blog-o-sphere dislikes you, serious or otherwise! At the end of the day, you are writing about YOUR experiences and what YOU have accomplished, fought with, and what YOU are looking for in a new horse today. I have been there done that on sour grapes folks selling horses but seriously! You are clearly aware of your strengths AND weaknesses, and if something isn't your cup of tea whether its in a photo or under saddle, that is your right. I find it quite hard to dislike people in the endurance world, *haha!* Endurance makes me, a usually shy, reserved person, walk around ride camp cheerfully complimenting people on their horses and asking total strangers about their leg wrapping techniques. That is the beauty of endurance! I hope you have a good ride today. And I hope you aren't in the least disturbed by the "haters" out there--seems like you're doing just fine to me!

  3. Awww good luck! I have my fingers crossed for you!

  4. Honestly, I used to think our horses were very much alike, but Dixie has really impressively grown a brain and calmed down. I'm glad you're focused on finding a horse with a good mind!

    With that said, I hope you don't build up today's ride to be the make-or-break point. Maybe if the spotty horse doesn't work out you quit looking so intensively, but don't close yourself off to the possibility of another horse. Still - fingers crossed for you today!

  5. Highest price doesn't always equal best. I've bought several horses recently and the most expensive one no one wants the ride, and the $800 one has turned out to be the best horse I've ever owned. It's all about what suits you.

  6. hanging the laundry on the longe line - what a great image!

    i respect that your experience has shown you what to prioritize when searching for a horse, and shown you how to see warning signs.