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

September 18, 2012

I can hardly believe this...CMO

As I'd mentioned I had written to a CMO ride manager that is in the ball park of my portion of the state (a sixty mile or so ball park).  She wrote me back and has been SO NICE!  Has offered to assist me with the finer points of map/compass reading, and has offered to do a meet and ride on "my" home turf.  What digging around I've done it looks like CMO rides actually sprang from Endurance.  Here's the interesting points (and if I get something wrong please feel free to correct me as I'm only in the reading stages of this thing):

  1. A CMO is a treasure hunt of sorts.  You get a map, carry an orienteering type compass, and set out on a trail of varied distances in search of 5 (short course) or 10 (long course) objective targets.  Time matters, but so do the codes you retrieve from each target.  The distance of the course can be 5, 10, 15, 20 miles or so, and yes speed is good.  But likewise, if you just want to complete (like LD) then just finding the targets/codes and making it back in one piece are good too.  So your speed is relative to the outcome you desire.  If you are a points hound, get up and move.  If you are the turtle type, just take your time and find those paper plate targets and collect your code.  You can ride as an individual, or as part of a team.  Rides are staged out of trail/park systems.
  2. Membership to the national organization is about $30 a year.  Cheaper than AERC, ACTHA, and most other ride organizations of this genre.  You don't have to join to ride as a day rider.  Ride entry fees are $10 for members and about $15 for non-members.  Which for me would be a savings of about one hundred dollars per ride weekend.  
  3. Ribbons are awarded for the top six placements on the long course and top three on the short.  Awards are given for top male rider, top female, and junior (my logic is a bit fuzzy on the awards). You also gain points that over time accumulate to earning such things as blankets, halters with the organization's logo.
  4. The sanctioning organization is NACMO and the groups regionally are smaller than LD & Endurance.
  5. Bonus:  I can see where these rides would be very good for starting a young horse into the distance disciplines by getting the horse out on the trail, camping, riding in groups, learning to go slow, fast, and have a good whoa (you aren't going to work a compass from a horse that won't stand still).  The long course would be great LSD training in and of itself at an 80% savings over a sanctioned LD.
  6. All said and done...for 2013 I'm going to give CMO's a whirl and see what I think.  Everything else is going on the back burner until I have some CMO experience.
This is not a nail in the coffin of doom for my distance aspirations.  Just a step into the big old world to see what else is out there, and if there is a choice that fits me and the spotted wonder a little bit better.


  1. Hope you heard from Marti. She's a terrific person, very enthusiastic. As a whole, CMO folks are very good to newbies and always try to find one experienced person to ride with them if possible. I was going to ride with a newbie group Sunday but at last minute hooked up with a friend... They have very nice yearend and cumulative awards. As for the race awards, definitely do NOT do a CMO if you want to have a pretty ribbon to hang on the wall. You certainly will be given a placing but there are rarely ribbons or t-shirts (I have 2 t-shirts from doing this on and off for probably 15 years). Usually they have a box of miscellaneous prizes that you get to pick from; sometimes good stuff, sometimes not. Myself, I don't care about ride awards.

    You asked in a previous post about teams. Teams are very confusing, don't even bother with a "team" designation. Points are accumulated by individual person and individual horse. So you show up, ride with whoever you want (or alone if you're good) and get your placing and points. Declared TEAMS are only if you plan on riding with the same group of people all year and want to compete for a national year-end team award. One of my good Illinois friends is on a declared team and got a 1st and 2nd place last weekend and is in the running for national team placing.

    Her team and my team covered the same approx 14 mile trail. Her team did it in 1.5 hours, we did it in 3. She got 1st place, we got 4th. They are very good at finding the targets quickly (us, not so much) and they gallop between them (we trot or mosey).

  2. We had some CMO people speak at a horse club I used to be in. It sounded like fun, but their events tended to overlap with my PNER obligations, so I never got to try. The one concern I had, listening to our local gals, was if the courses generally stuck to trails or not. It kind of sounded like the goal was to get to the paper plates in whatever way was shortest, even if that meant venturing off into uncharted territory...?

  3. ruth, CMO is done by families with small children, but that's not to say you won't get lost if you are unfamiliar with the area. some bushwhacking is in order. every new rider is offered a mentor, and every ride has a clinic beforehand to teach people how to do it, and for the experienced riders to be sure their compasses are aligned. it is such a great challenge for horse and rider, i envy you for having the opportunity.