I wish I could make him read this. Of course he never will. He should. He should be made to understand some things about distance riding, the risks, the horses, and especially the dedication and the hard work that goes into this sport, even on lower than dirt level that I happen to ride. So a letter just for him.
Dear man with the purple ribbons:
Hi. You don't know me, but I'm a 55 year old woman from the Midwest. Myself and twenty-something or so other riders and horses visited your favorite trail for a competition this past weekend for an endurance ride. At our ride meeting the night before we were encouraged by ride management who worked hard to put on the ride to be courteous to the casual trail riders we encountered during the competition. To slow to a walk. To be friendly and appreciative of the use of the shared trail. I took that to heart. I yielded the trail to everyone I met on Friday. I may have even stepped off the trail for YOU.
I wonder if you know that I rode my horse over 500 training ride miles in temperatures below freezing, in mud so deep we slogged, in a cold rain storm, on days that my unhealthy body would have rather been wrapped in a warm blanket on the couch? While your horse wintered over, mine was working up a sweat, steam rolling off her back from November through April. It takes conditioning to ride a horse for 30 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, 100 miles, or whatever the mileage flavor of the day. It isn't like a pleasure ride. You don't WALK five miles and go home. You push your horse's athletic boundaries, you push your own physical boundaries, but your hard work and preparation hedges the bet that your horse will come through the planned mileage just fine. I wonder Mr. Ribbon man what would have happened if you'd have pulled the ribbons down on the 50 mile rider's trail loop? Would you have caused that 50 mile horse to go off course? Do you find the idea of the endurance rider wandering lost on an unfamiliar trail funny? Do you not understand that a horse off course could potentially be taken 20 miles OUT OF THEIR WAY to get back on track? Do you not know that it isn't only the loss of the competition, but the horse could die from complications resulting from riding farther than planned due to your selfishness? Do you know that people at the ride drove from other states and worked their horses perhaps six months, or a year for a shot at just completing this ride? Do you have any idea what a logistic nightmare you created for the women who marked these trails and managed this ride? Do you understand that the Maumee ride was my first vacation in a year? There were new riders to our sport at Maumee. How disappointing for them to get off trail because you thought it funny to pull down those critical directional ribbons. The ride manager had those ribbons hung by someone STANDING UP IN THEIR SADDLE because you tore them down last year too. She didn't want anyone to lose their way. We all paid for a bridle pass for the use of those Indiana trails. The Hoosier National Forestry does not belong to YOU. It belongs to all of us whose tax dollars and day passes pay for the upkeep so you are able to ride your horse on those forestry trails. I'm told that someone saw you with your saddle draped in our ribbons. You must certainly be proud of your job well-done. I hope you had a beer and a good laugh that you single-handedly ruined a harmless fun weekend for more than a few people. This is not a rant. It is by GOD the truth. I'm not sure I'd return to those trails (lovely as they are) for even casual camping or trail riding, because if you are despicable enough to do what you did, what else might you do?
I'm done. Moving on.......~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