In fact I've been rolling it around in my head for several days. I had very specific long-range goals for Phebes, and we met so many of them, except for hitting our mileage chevron (30 miles short I think) before I decided to pull her out of the sport, period.
I do have a couple of budding thoughts on Journey's and my future together. But so much depends on her, and how well she is able to mentally handle the process of an actual ride. In many ways she is a superior horse to Phebes (though not in stamina as yet), but in a few core ways she is similar to Phebes in emotional weakness. But all of Journey's "issues" are tied to being "herd bound." A for instance is the horse trailer. It is not the horse trailer at all. She is bothered by the separation from the herd. When we have a problem on the trail it is not the trail, she is bothered by the separation from the herd. So I have to roll around how to build myself as a leader that she respects enough that the herd is secondary. I'm finding it a pretty tough nut to crack. We've made good progress, but you can still see that anxiety in her eye, the tipping of the head in that direction, or the occasional attempt to do the driving if she doesn't like the split in the trail leading farther away from the herd. I need to speak with someone smarter than me on how to start her at LD without unraveling her mentally. I know I need to be very careful with that, but there is only so much you can control at a ride with experienced horses thundering by. Even a tail end start will not stop the 50's coming up behind if you are riding slow.
On the other hand, she appears to have a good motor, she is forward in a sane sort of way (ie: loose rein), though she can be very reactive to rustling or moving things, she blows, and then it is over, she doesn't continue to ruminate on it. She is easy to get on and off being a short horse. She is easy to ride with little wear and tear on my already worn and torn joints. She eats on trail, she drinks, there is a lot more that I like about her than I don't like and she's kind of cute in a freckly Appy sort of way. We have not established that wonderful bond, at least not yet. I like her, but my heart isn't wrapped up in her... Only serious miles will do that.
If I'm honest...I have to say "I'm a little afraid of failure." That is a hard thing for me to admit. I poured so much of myself into Phebes (seven years), and my small victories meant more to me on a core level than most folks would ever understand. I always believed that Phebes would be successful, it was the purpose for which I bought her as an eight week old CMK foal, and my inability to manage Phebes effectively as a distance horse (not to sound overly dramatic) was very difficult for me. It is still difficult. Though I started out a little rocky, I finally felt that I had the learning curve. My mare was going out on trail solo for 20 + miles at a time and doing it really well, but even being tenacious will not cure a metabolic disorder. I guess I could have kept trying, but it would have served only "me". Just simply riding slower was not the answer. The answer was that she not do it anymore period. So here I am. One horse more than I need. One horse more than I can devote my time too. I sometimes think about re-homing Phebes but I would only consider a very stable home where she was used at least 3 days a week. Phebes is a high strung and sensitive horse that needs a job to do or she is not a "good citizen." How do you know a home is stable? That the horse won't change hands? That it will be well-treated, and see the vet? Not end up starving in a dry lot, or shipped to Mexico. How do you really know?
So looking ahead, I have no crystal ball. I don't see the future, and I'm actually working hard at trying to let go of the past. Today is it. I have no goals. Just HOPE. Hope that I can find a training partner who doesn't mind a very quiet and introverted person. Hope that I can again ride a distance trail, even a limited one. Hope that Fibromyalgia will not side-line me permanently. Hope that someone else out there understands that there is an elemental calling that draws me to this sport and makes me want to be an Endurance Rider. ~ 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