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

July 18, 2012

Newbie's Corner: Failure the Best Teacher

Don't get me wrong, I can whine with the best of them.  My foot hurts, my horse is sometimes being a butt, the 17 mile trail is a 20 mile trail, OVER TIME... some jack-ass tore down the ribbons (see, I'm still whining!).  But the other side of that coin is I learn something.  I learned that my horse can indeed go 20 miles at a pop vs. the 15 we'd always done before.  I learn that though my horse was overtime, she actually covered 30 miles instead of 25, and if I calculate pace for that, we were actually rolling right on the money for our targeted pace.  That when all was said and done my horse was eating like, well--a-- "horse" and all was well, so said the vet. Things I've also learned through miserable failure is that I may have to get used to it if I'm going to continue on toward a "loftier" goal. 

So far my experience with the distance thing has involved 3 horses, a regular 3-rat study if you will.

The purebred arabian of 18 years:  Piece of cake, she walked the dog on the two rides she did, a CTR and an LD.  (took ten weeks to prepare)

7/8 arabian with saddlebred crossed in:  Extremely athletic horse with severe metabolic issues when pushed to fitness.   (about 3 years of misery trying to shove the big square peg into the little round hole).

1/2 arabian 1/2 Appaloosa:  I'm finding this horse in no way tough as either of the higher arabian percentage of bloodlines.  Maybe I should rephrase:  she's tough enough, but does not have the wonderful recoveries and cooling capability that the other two horses exhibited.    This may be a real bug-a-boo on a 50 when her pulse hangs, and hangs.   But failure in this aspect has taught me that we have an issue here to resolve first, yes?

Failure has taught me that riding the purebred arabian is far easier in many respects.  That's why all those long-legged arabs are scattered all over ride camp.

But I want to ride "my" horse, so what do I do?

I try to learn all I can about competing a non-arab and apply those principles to my horse.  I may fall flat on my face yet again.  But what can I take away from that?  I'm okay with "me" falling on my face (aside from whining and self-flagellation in  and shortly after the moment), as long as my horse is not a casualty in the process.  It is not a perfect world.  Endurance is not easy for "all of us."  But you know what?  There is nothing like reaching a new pinnacle in this sport.  I can taste that 50 mile ride, and my heart rhythm kind of goes askew when I contemplate on it, and if completing finally is anything like our first LD, all the crap that it took to get there, WILL BE WORTH IT.



  1. Well if nothing else, you get the "stick withitness" award!!! I feel your dilemna about riding the non-arab horse but the stubborn part of me just won't let me... I have read story after story of Tevis winners that were non-arab's so I say poo on those folks that say you have ride an Arab to be successful in endurance. That's a bunch of hogwash IMHO...Success is defined by the individual's own personal journey. For me, success is getting out on the trail for a condition ride and getting to see things that maybe half the population would never get to see in their lifetime...or getting my horse through a ride without any major issues. It's the simple things. It's a different quest for everyone..

  2. I agree that it is "doable", it just has to be done differently.

    Congrats on your mare's great ride btw :)

  3. I think having to pay such close attention makes us better horsemen/women for the required efforts in the long run.