The first suggestion someone new to the sport of distance riding will get is find a mentor. Though I agree that a mentor is an invaluable asset it will only hold true if your mentor match up is the right fit. What do I mean by that?
Your mentor must be willing to defer their advice toward your ride goals. Early on I ran into a number of very helpful people, but their ride times were faster than I needed to be going. Because I was new, and did not know better I was heeding the advice of experienced people who's riding style was too advanced for me or my horse. Even now they would likely ride faster than I care to go. So if you are being given advice, or you are giving advice the first questions you should ask is how new to the sport is this horse? How new to the sport is the rider? What are the rider's short term goals? Are these goals safe? So it becomes very important to find that person who's riding style and experience align with your own aspirations. Let me tell you that is not easy to do.
So what if you can't find that person? Read, read, and read some more.
At Amazon here. For experienced horse/rider combo's wanting to better their game.
Books can give you the skeleton of starting the sport, or gearing up to another level. However some things are only accomplished by doing. If I could rework my whole distance experience I'd use very slow LD's (5 hours +) to leg up for a first very slow 50 and I would point myself at that 50 after about 3 LD's (no more). It would have saved me about five years of floundering around. Books and reading only take you so far, and often don't answer the questions that might sideline you. This is when having a great mentor can save your butt! In truth even a good mentor may not hold all of the answers, as they might not have faced your particular problem. Then it is good to search out some folks that have. I've had a long list of very helpful mentors along the way:
Karen Chaton: Gave me the importance of teaching your horse a number of horse safety skills prior to going to a ride. No gaurantee my horse won't act out, but doing those things reduced the odds of her becoming a bad ridecamp citizen (at least so far). Read Endurance Riding Basics.
Patti Stedman: She taught me that you have to throw your big girl panties on and trust that there REALLY are good people out there and sent me on to fulfilling what had become not just a ride but a spiritual quest. Sure wish I could share a trail with her.
Christine Eickleberry: Taught me point the horse down the trail, no whining! She showed me what ride pace is like, and became a friend. I miss her so much in the sport.
Diane Connelly: Assisted me in getting my conditioning plan tweaked for a 50. She helped me solve the bleeding leg problem, and the horse cooling problem.
Chris Martin: Kept a sense of humor concerning HOW SLOW I RIDE, and pointed me towards pulling some hills to build strength and stamina. He is still probably scratching his head that I want to go so slow.
The list goes on and on actually and my list of people I've had to completely tune out is much longer than the list of those with worthwhile solid information. Often that is not because they don't know anything, but rather their "way" is not a good fit for how I like to ride. Make sense?
Though I've been at this thing for awhile I still have many questions, and a variety of problems that I would like to solve, but have not found the person with the answer that fits, at least not yet. So if you are new...choose your mentors well, don't be afraid to ignore advice that you feel does not align with your goals or your riding style, and study the wealth of information out there in books and online to fill in the holes.
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