We've done three of these now in pretty short order. I had the best luck finding stations riding with a pack of newbies. In that case, the speed element was not so much of a factor at least in the finding of the plates. Five sets of eyes looking for landmarks. Three or four compasses figuring out the search area, and a person or two, or three searching for the plate. Put me on a trail, map in hand, spin me around once and I'm pretty much directionally dysfunctional and would likely circle the same tree ten times while the sun set and a search posse came looking with a body bag strapped to the saddle. Yesterday's ride will be as close as I come ever to a ride that important. Catch riding is fun!
There is one aspect of this smaller sport though that I really like. The people. They really treat you like you matter (even though maybe you don't really). I had five people hug me (including the winners of the title) saying they were glad I came, and they hope I come to their banquet in February. Of course the ride had its little dramas of personalities, the tension was pretty high since it was a run for top dog, and the natural course of friendships is you want this person or that person to win. But at the end of the day everyone was gracious, and the cheering at awards was heartfelt and incredible. If you went out, and came back with a plate....even one lowly plate, you got a small prize for participation, and cheers for your effort. This bunch (the Indiana/Illinois crowd) are a fun and interesting group of people with widely varying backgrounds (a writer, veterinarian, microbiologist, truck driver, etc..., etc....). Horse trailers from high end (mostly), to low end (a few), but nobody seemed to care. It has been what I'd hoped my AERC experience would have been like. This is not a reflection of AERC in general, because other regions have great stories and relationships that resonate as equally warm and inviting. For whatever reasons I just didn't find my fit here in the Midwest and lost my core group of friends early into my adventure as these people all pretty much retired from the sport shortly after I started into it.
Now the downside to CMO for me is there ARE NO RIDES IN CLOSE FIRING RANGE. Most are in the Northern part of the state and into Illinois. Likewise there are NO CMO'ers in my corner of the state...ummmm..or my half of the state! So the long range plan is to stage a CMO clinic here and see if we can drum up some interest and get a core group of 10 or 15 interested in the sport here in Southeastern Indiana, Northern Kentucky, and the connecting portion of Ohio. I'm toying with the idea of having a non-sanctioned CMO (done as a clinic) to possibly get this thing launched. Marti is a regional director and she is on board with the idea.
As for my "talent" in this area? I'm good at the compass thing, fair on spotting stations, and hopeless on navigation with a map unless I'm on an especially well marked trail. So we have things to work on in the mean time. Plenty to work on in the horse skill set as well. Whoa needs to mean whoa for CMO. But somewhere along the line Journey should pick up a better set of skills...CMO should really keep her in good physical condition, and maybe someday we will pick up that 50 mile endurance feather to braid into her little Appy mane. I'm enjoying trying new things, and ultimately we will choose that thing that fits best. Having fun at what I'm doing is intrinsically more important to me than excelling at what I'm doing. Feeling like I am accepted and a part of what I'm doing may be the best thing of all. ~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