Contact information:

Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


August 20, 2013

The Real People of Endurance

Okay.  I'll just out myself (in case the whole bunch of you have never figured it out)...I'm sensitive.  I'm also rather adverse to being rejected which would likely require a full time psychiatrist to figure out why I feel as I do.  As close as I come to that is working for a psychiatrist.  Surely I will suck something beneficial from my environment through the ether.   When I look at interactions between endurance people on the internet, especially web forums, and sometimes on personal blogs, and social networking sites, it seems like the anonymity for some reason brings out the very worst in people.  You see so much internet-bullying out there.  Some innocent person offers an opinion or asks a question and soon the sharks are circling until you almost see the blood spatter from the frenzied feeding.  WHY?   What power is given to someone else when they demean some other person that way? Tell me, are these the REAL PEOPLE OF ENDURANCE?

I'm getting to the point here eventually.   This blog, my success, my lack of success, my love for my horses, frustration with my horses, my goals have all been laid out with as much honesty as I can muster.   My "connection" with endurance people have mostly come via this electronic venue.  Not so much luck at an actual ride though I did try reaching out in several ways to the endurance community.  Initially I volunteered at a ride, then I volunteered for trail work , joined my nearest distance riding club (that didn't work out well), made "turtle awards" and purchased some as well to donate to a ride (apparently they don't recognize turtle rider *sigh*).  I made these efforts small as they were to indicate an interest, perhaps get to know someone, perhaps find a ride buddy through networking, maybe...not sit at ride camp alone for the duration of a weekend.   So I thought, maybe if I walk around camp more, comment on someone's horse, ask about their ride plans, then maybe....no.  So I carried on, just doing my thing, by myself.  At a certain point I felt Journey was very close to ready for an attempt at a 50 mile ride.  She was managing 20 mile training rides okay, pulsing down okay.  50 miles is a big leap for a risk adverse person.  I know full well how wrong things can go at a first of something, even if you think you are pacing right.  So I researched people who had done the ride I was looking at and turtled consistently.  Sent out emails to several of those people asking if they'd be willing to ride with me on a first 50.   Not hold my hand as I'd never sacrifice someone else's completion for myself.  Just an experienced person to mentor me that perhaps I wouldn't kill my horse, that I'm rating properly for that distance, and be a sounding board for questions related to stepping up.  Of three people asked, the answers were "keep doing LD's more or less" "no I'm riding with someone else" and just "no."   I had my horse trailer packed for the weekend, my entry paid, Coggin's test, and health certificate picked up and ready to roll.  A year's work in preparation and my thought that day was are these the real people of endurance?    My understanding was that it was a big happy friendly group of people that can't wait to help out a new person.  I drank that Kool-Aid down to the very last drop, and may have ran my tongue around the edges of the glass in case I missed some.  That is why I gave up, packed it in, and moved on over to CMO.  It wasn't because the short venue of LD is hard (which it is for me due to some physical issues), it was because the sport had become so LONELY.

On the RideCamp forum some time back there was a discussion going on about the falling membership/ ride start numbers, and if we'd only...show people how very nice we are, surely they would come.  I felt impassioned to draft an email to one of the posters who seemed very nice,  was outside my region, and expressed to her my experience of the people aspect of the sport.  I'm not sure that she entirely believed my whole sorry tale of expectation vs. outcome, but she did believe it enough to write me back, not once, not twice, but three times.  She more or less said if I can show you the real people of endurance would you consider trying again?  I stewed over that for more than a few days.   I examined my own heart and realized though my personal experience was not a positive one, perhaps my belief of the sport was skewed by a set of circumstances that is not the norm.  I told her that I would consider it.

So here I am.  Heart  and mind wide-open. My daughter is a big believer in "putting things out there for the universe" and that positive brings positive.  So I'm looking for a training partner in my corner of southeastern Indiana, looking for a friend to say hey to in a certain upcoming midwest ride camp.  Looking for the real people of endurance.  Are you really out there?        ~E.G.

15 comments:

  1. I do chuckle at those threads. I really like most of the distance riders I've met so far -- but they're still people, and people are people. Some of them are super-awesome and very welcoming and otherwise My Kind Of People! Some of them, I feel no strong need to engage with. And most fall in the middle.

    I've opted to tackle my distance-riding project without seeking out an official mentor or ride buddies, etc., specifically because I knew I would be _really discouraged_ if I tried reaching out and nobody reached back. I have a hard time with that sort of thing. I am much happier when I plan to go it alone -- but my first ride in particular would have been very, very lonely if I'd believed the hype and arrived not expecting to do my own thing most of the time.

    Or maybe I'm just an anti-social jerkface. I guess that is possible, too!

    I don't know anybody endurance-y in your area, but I wish you luck in finding a buddy.

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    1. I would bet one of Journeys spots a jerk face you are not.

      My self inflicted idea of what endurance riding should be and actually is has been resolved. It was mostly a case of mistaken expectation on my part. I hope to eventually run across some like minded person.

      I tend to write about those things that are important to me. This can make me seem opinionated. I will admit that I am when it comes to matters of the heart , kindness, and doing the right thing.

      Ass for the distance forums ...really bad ju-ju there.

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    2. There are much worse things to be opinionated about. :)

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  2. I was fortunate enough in that my mom was interested in starting the sport in the same time I was, so we did our first ride together. Two total newbies on two totally new horses, out riding the LD at a brand new first-year ride. :) We survived and both went on to do many more rides. I went to my first 50 totally solo and just ended up riding with various people off and on, finishing the last half of the ride with a gentleman I met that day and who turned out to be a fabulous mentor at the time. That's become my favorite way of riding with people, just GO and then see how your horse paces with others and find a buddy who's going about the same.

    I think part of the problem with having a blog and being vocal online is that people read it and preform opinions on you and/or your horses. Or their friends read it and word starts to get around. Keith on the membership committee had a bit of the same problem when he first started. Sometimes its better to be anonymous and let people form their ideas/opinions off the REAL you instead.

    Hope you find someone in your area, or going to local rides to meet up with.

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  3. It always makes me so upset to hear how the different regions vary in sometimes negative ways. The southeast riders, or at least the mostly nutty group of riders I got adopted into, made this sport for me. I wandered into a ride camp hoping to find something and walked out with a family. I want that experience for everyone and dern it if you only a few hours away I'd totally trailer out with you all the time to ride. Most of my riding buddies are 2-3 hours away anyways so we always just plan camping weekends but I know your a bit more north than say, Atlanta- Chatanooga stretch. Also, I've never even seen a ride where the turtles aren't at least given a nod if not semi-rowdy cheering. My turtle award is one of my favorites as it meant that I finished that DERN RIDE.

    I held Rose back longer that experienced riders said to do before her first 50 and now, a year later, realize that I shouldn't have even been doing 50s till my horse used herself correctly. Live and learn, but a well respected ride vet once told me that if my horse could do 50 miles in two days, ie two back to back LDs, and still have go by the end of the second day, that she was ready for a 50. That advice held sound and Rose and I finished our first, second, and fourth 50 with gas in the tank.

    Perhaps one of the reasons we blog is to share our love with those who do the same. I avoid the ride forums like the plague and only occasionally review the facebook ones if their interesting to me. I don't comment, I take everything everyone says with a gain of salt. Each horse and rider is unique and there isn't going to be a one size fit's all solution. Even if you felt discouraged by the sport, you inspired me. I hope you find someone at a ride to re-inspire you as to why this sport can be great. If nothing else, look down at your spotted wonder partner and realize that where she can take you is part of the reason that this sport is great.

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  4. I'm encouraged by the UMECRA and AERC facebook pages because I've seen many posts by people saying "I'm going to show up at XX ride for my first XX distance and I'm looking for someone who'll ride slow, etc". There's always offers of help. You may have had bad luck and chose 3 people who like to ride alone, don't like babysitting newbies, etc.

    There seems to be a huge divide between the "real" endurance riders of 50/100 and everyone else (the LDs and the comp). The elite of the sport do NOT want really want to hear that they can be doing something better for the sport, especially if it comes from someone who is not at their level. I wouldn't dream of making suggestions because of that, I bruise too easily.

    When I first started doing it in the late 80s, it was more clique-ish than today, I think it's getting much better. I've made 3 really good friends thru doing this and we condition/compete together as much as we can. But they all live within 10 miles of me so that's what drew us together. While conditioning at Kankakee we met another girl who we talked into doing a 15 mile last weekend and I can tell she's going to be a good friend too.

    But otherwise, like Hannah I really could care less if I socialize at a ride. I love camping, I love being with my horse, I love a couple glasses of wine and a good book, and I love the challenge of the ride. I might walk up to a person's trailer and ask a question about their setup, or talk to a person who's also riding a Morgan. I keep it short in case it seems like I'm bothering them, but if they continue the conversation that's great. But even if it's the former, I'm like a duck -- it rolls off my back. Back to my horse, my wine, my book.

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    1. Well in all honesty I am not that needy. I would be happy just to get to know a few people well enough to have a conversation or work out some long conditioning rides that are not solo. When I first started I had a training buddy and it was so much fun. It was actually more fun than competition. My riding network fell apart after she retired from the sport. There is just something special about doing the horse thing with some friends. Actually a UMECRA rider has been gracious enough to offer to mentor me should I decide on a 50. Everything I hear about that org is positive.

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  5. I have yet to do an endurance ride, but have high hopes I'll make it to a couple of LDs next year. I'm from the midwest region also - Missouri/Illinois border - so I like to think I might meet you in real life one of these days. :) I will confess, the group dynamics concern me more than the distance or ride itself when it comes to endurance. I am very shy and do not meet people easily - if they make the first move, I am happy to make friends! But reaching out is usually very hard for me. I envision myself staying alone on the edge of camp, reading while my scruffy mustang snarfs hay. But it would be so nice to have a buddy or a mentor - especially at the beginning. I hope you find a more friendly reception your next time out, and hope you find a good buddy! Good luck.

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    1. I have yet to make it to a ride too. My goal was at least one LD ride this year....and the year isn't over yet. I am in Mid-MO so maybe my mustang (yep, another mustang gal here!) and I will get to meet you someday! :-)

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    2. Wild Ride, I have not had the pleasure of doing my first ride either and had hoped to do my first LD this year...the year isn't over yet tho! Ha! I am from Mid-MO so hopefully me and my mustang can meet you and your mustang in the future! :-)

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    3. See ? Now this is how things are supposed to work. It makes me happy. Hope you gals get to meet.

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  6. Wild Ride

    If you ever make it to an Indiana ride let me know. I will guarantee you will have at least one friendly face in ridecamp. Our introvert personality...is very much alike..

    EG

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    1. Oh how I wish we lived closer! I am in Mid-Mo and it would be so much fun to have someone to condition with. I have been to a couple rides to watch and learn and try to visit with people. It is tough! I had a somewhat local long time endurance rider admit that they were not a friendly welcoming bunch and they were working on that. They get focused on what they need to do and stick with that. I really do hope to meet you someday! We might not be close enough for conditioning rides, but we are close enough to meet up at a future ride when I finally make it to that point!

      I was looking at your conditioning times. I was excited to get a 3 mph average this past weekend! Ha ha! I have two mustangs I am riding right now. One who believes any mileage in the double digits is stupid and a waste of good energy, and the other who is green and learning to trot on cue for more than 3-4 strides at a time. He will be my go-getter as long as he likes it. And he will like it as long as he is following someone! Ha ha!

      I really do hope you find someone fun to hang out with and condition with!

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    2. Me too Karen...me to.

      On your trotting pick a place to pick up the trot and just add a little more each day. Before you know it you will be trotting for an hour...and then later two hours. That is almost half of your first ld.

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    3. Me too Karen...me to.

      On your trotting pick a place to pick up the trot and just add a little more each day. Before you know it you will be trotting for an hour...and then later two hours. That is almost half of your first ld.

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