I've had almost two years to think about this. Actually laid awake last night mulling it through my otherwise cluttered brain synapses. Thought I'd actually "blog" endurance granny today and share some of the insights that have filtered through these past months.
* Distance riding takes a lot of time. If you enjoy those hours on your horse a lot, then you might be successful at LD (limited distance) or Endurance. Most of the people I know, or have read about like to get at a minimum one long ride a week, and two shorter, faster rides.
* You need to enjoy horse camping. You need to like it a lot! If you are not thinned skinned and don't give a crap what others think you can do it out of the back of your pickup with a tent. Not as comfortable as a big rig with a/c, heat, and a place to take a bath, but doable. Oh, and the payments on pick-up bed tents are pretty cheap *wink*.
*You need to be comfortable driving some long distances to get to a ride. Actually this depends on where you live...and the region you live in. I was lucky that 1 1/2 -3 1/2 hours was about as long a haul as I needed for my own purposes at the time. Personally the short hauls didn't bother me, but I did not relish the longer ones that put me out of reach of my US Rider covering the incident which is about 80 miles.
* You need to be accepting of failure. A distance ride is all or nothing. Either you make it and get credit for those miles, or you chalk it up to a learning experience/training ride for the next one.
* To be seriously competitive in the sport costs money. The AERC for the most part awards those who A) Win or B) Accumulate boo-coo miles. This requires attending a lot of rides. Fuel and entries cost money.
* If reaching personal goals is rewarding the AERC may be for you. If your budget is low, and you can be happy doing a couple of weekends a summer, and set your achievement barometer to a better ride time, a longer distance, a cleaner vet check, or maybe a trail you've never challenged before, you can still be "successful" at your own goals riding distance.
* Having a ride buddy is priceless. Even if you prefer a solo ride, having a ride buddy for conditioning, traveling, or just sitting around camp staring at the pretty horses goes a long way in the distance riding experience. More than anything this was an ongoing issue for me. Ride camp can be lonely...unless you are a hermit curmudgeon, without some sort of friend network in the sport. When a buddy isn't available, a mentor if you can find one is a nice substitute.
* A race bred arabian doesn't hurt. I know that might get a few panties into a twist, but a non-typical breed in distance riding may or may not be doable. People will tell you it is, but the truth is not EVERY horse can do the sport. Even at the LD level. There are some exceptions that are making progress on their non-arabians, but a good part of my challenge involved my desire to ride the horses that I had rather than purchase a horse that is geared for the job. Arabians excel at this sport over other breeds and that is why so many ride them. If mileage is your bag, then you have a better shot at being successful on those terms than in placement.
* A distance rider has a different mindset. They look different, they act different, they exude something. My husband said he could pick out a distance rider at any trail head just by that different "something." He said they look driven, like their eye is on a prize that you can't see. Just very different from the casual trail rider. Perhaps it isn't only the horse that gets that "look of eagles." You need that...if you are to endure, at endurance. You need to hunger for those miles on your horse. When the hunger stops, game over.
Thoughts to chew on. Have a great day ☺
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