Wow! The AERC member's forum and Ridecamp have had a hoppin' weekend. The purists intimating how those low-distance wanna-be's will ruin their beloved sport and the other camp (LD riders and folks who'd like to see AERC membership explode with possibility in a troubled economy) turning the proverbial thinking outside the box on its ear (in some worried minds).
I'm just feeling the urge to tell the truth. The truth as I've seen it in my ride experiences so far. Endurance has not always been a friendly and welcoming place. There. I've said it. Most of the folks at a ride are long-term riders, with established friendships, and chosen riding partners. For an outsider, it is tough to break in. It does not mean that they are bad people. They are there for the weekend, to enjoy themselves and babysitting a newbie should not necessarily fall within their responsibility. Luckily my introduction to the sport was by a long-time Limited Distance rider who was about to retire. She was great and let me talk her ear off. However, my first LD ride was a freaking disaster, as I was riding the pace of an experienced rider, even though she thought she was going slow... It is a humiliating way to start the sport with your horse attached to an IV BAG, and not understanding where you went WRONG as you followed the experienced rider down the trail. Now I know THAT IS WHERE I WENT WRONG. Now I know. If you want people to feel welcome in this sport don't tear them down. Don't diss them on FACEBOOK. If you hate me, talk among yourselves but don't let me know, okay? Or my ride dollar and membership fees to your organization are going to dry up. Yes, I'm just one, no big deal right? Except I'm not just one. There are a plethora of wanna-be's, and beginners, just dreaming of riding the ride. How about we let them ride? Make them feel welcome... We smile and say hey! I'm glad to see you. You are having trouble? I struggled with that and this is how I fixed it twenty years ago...hang in there, you can do it! Pull a chair up to the camp fire, you are welcome here. We are going to clap for you even if you came in dead last! You may only ride 25 or 30 miles on your non-arabian horse, but I can tell it is important to you, that you take pride in the accomplishment with your horse (and your ride dollars are important to us, they help keep real endurance sport alive). How are those short distance riders a threat to the real endurance rider? How are intro rides a threat to the real endurance rider?
Then there is the other truth. The most welcoming folks have been the folks I've struggled "with" as they are new to the sport too, and strung out all over the country, taking their horses to another level a little at a time. Thank goodness we have blogs to support each other. Maybe we aren't REAL endurance riders. Maybe our horse is not an arabian. Maybe its conformation is so pitiful it trips over its own four feet! Maybe we don't care about the race. Maybe we just want to play our venue. Does it matter? Really? REALLY?
But you know what? It isn't the AERC. The AERC voted to have LD rides and the AERC sanctions those rides. I believe they do support our venue. The AERC was having LD's long before I came along. It is just a small vocal populace within the sport that wants to rain on everyone else's happy little adventure. I say Talk to the hoof! Ride your ride, and let the rest of us ride our's.
So I'm going to hop off my soap box. Me and my fibromyalgic miserable muscles and tight complaining snapping and popping connective tissue are hauling out for a training ride to prepare ourselves to support an AERC LD ride. My previously crushed foot that is screaming don't! don't! don't! this morning is going along too. My crooked previously broken finger, and arthritic knees are joining in on the fun. I may not concentrate well either due to a near death experience with smoke inhalation many years ago (oh....maybe that's whats wrong with me). I'm not riding 40 miles, 30 miles, probably not even 20 miles today. But I am riding with people who LIKE me. It doesn't cost me a dime. What would happen to those endurance rides if LD took their ball, went home and started their own organization, had their own rides every weekend, had their own rules, played the game their own way. Just sayin'. ~ 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