Limited Distance (LD) is looked on by some as the red-headed, step-child, anti-Christ of endurance. However, LD has developed much to the chagrin of "those people" as a beloved venue for many who appreciate the possibilities of the shorter distance. LD serves its purpose, and I believe it has filled a niche that enhances the trail concept of the large venue of Endurance (E) riding. So putting all those flaming emotions aside related to LD vs. E or E vs. LD what IS the value of LD, and why is it the chosen venue of 40-60 % of those participating in AERC sanctioned rides? Time, money, risk, breed of horse, age of horse, age of rider, disability of rider, talent of horse, training ground for longer distance horses, competition ground for horses no longer up to the challenge of E, competition ground for rider no longer up to the challenge of E, multi-day venue for the rider on single horse, introductory ride for those who aspire to longer distances. That is a whole lot of "stuff" wrapped up in one little venue.
Let's talk about time. I work, you work. We balance family obligations, births, deaths, gatherings of celebration (at least if we have well-rounded psyche we do), stop in to check on and assist aging parents, have small children at home, or grandchildren, woops! some of us still have a spouse to throw in there, the care of home, yard, horse, dog, hay to stack, homes to repair, it goes on....and on....and on. Yes, E riders have all those things too. But sometimes you have to pick your life up, look at it, and say this is what I have TIME for, and plan and function accordingly. LD fills that niche. It frankly does not take the same time committment to train for the lower distance.
What about money? This may not hold true in other regions, but I can ride two days of LD here in the MIDWEST for the price of one day in E. Haul once, enjoy two days of riding, get the same amount of miles (that aren't counted as miles), soak in the sights, and enjoy the fun of ride camp.
Let's talk about risk. It is not rocket science to figure out that as the miles go up, so do the risks to the horse. As you go up in mileage, your horse managing skill set better go up with it. Your horse is at risk on an LD, more at risk on a 50 mile E, and at even greater risk as the mileage goes up, up, and up. I won't argue that there are people who manage that very well. I look up to them. Not every person beginning the sport is that good...most of us are not. I've been poo-pooed about not doing the 50 mileage (just yesterday actually), but I will not try it until I feel the risk factor for my horse is no worse than it is right now. When she can do a set of LD's successfully, and she feels strong at the end of that, maybe. But not until then, sorry, no matter how dummied down you think I'm riding. My ride is "MY RIDE." I weigh my risks, and if I don't like the poundage, I'll make my own decisions, MY CALL.
Breed of horse. Well that is a no brainer. You will be told that any horse can do this sport. Ummmm....if we are talking E, then not so much, maybe...you will have to see, the arabians hold court there. That is why so many ride them. If we are talking LD, probably you can, if you manage your horse well. I contend it take good horse management skills to get a heavily muscled horse of (pick your breed) through an LD. If I'm in awe of anybody, it is the person who has a non-typical hundred mile horse. WOW. You rock.
Age of horse, age of rider, disability of rider, talent of horse, well... not everyone fits the mold folks. Knee replacement, injuries, age, pain, it is not a cookie cutter world. Those riders/ horses being able to financially support the AERC and the longer distances through membership and support of rides is a very good thing for the sport. It keeps those E rides being offered.
There are purists in this sport. I hear where they are coming from. But LD existed before I ever got to climb on board in my own little way. The E rides have not came crashing down. The little people (LD riders, part-time riders, once in awhile riders) all still look up to you. No need to beat us bloody with a big stick. We know our limitations and we cheer loudly when you cross the finish line on your 100 mile horse. It is awesome, emotional, and thrilling when you do so. You have big boots to fill.
Like it or not LD is probably here to stay, at least as long as the AERC is a viable entity, and I'm so thankful for that. The past and the future may well indeed change the face of the sport as we know it by embracing other venues and avenues for financial stability. But those who love those longer distances will continue to put on those rides, and compete / complete those rides. You will not be diminished. Your personal satisfaction of a job well-done will remain intact. And really...that is all we little part-time, lesser-miled LD riders want...just to climb aboard my speckled pony and ride, then at the end of the day look into her clear beautiful eyes and know that "we" did our personal best. That my friends is the ♥ of distance riding for us all.
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