Newbie Belief #1: As a newbie I believed that when I started the sport that it would be a love fest of welcoming arms glad that another person had joined the fold.
- Reality Check: The distance sport is comprised of a lot of self-sustaining, school of hard knocks, independent doers and thinkers. If you ask for help you will likely find someone who is not too busy to answer your questions. But they just chunked down about $200-300 in fuel to get there, $80-100 in ride entries to ride, and their focus is going to be getting their own horse down the trail and to completion. It isn't that these people are necessarily shunning you, they just have a lot of stuff to get organized, a horse to get ready, a vet check to go to, or a problem of their own that might need solved. On the other hand, the person you attempted to talk to might just be a card carrying *$@!h. But thankfully those are in the minority, but can be found at endurance rides, the fuel pump, and also the check out at your local Walmart. So don't take it personally.
- Reality Check: See number #1. All those bucks spent to get to the ride??? Most people are going to ride their own ride, with whom they want, when they want, how they want, and it is really none of yours or my business. But! You might get lucky and find the phenomenal ambassador for the sport that says come on, you can follow. If you do this, it is your responsibility to not whine, not complain, keep up the very slow pace they are setting for you, and be gracious and thankful that they went above and beyond for someone they don't even know. Because you just got all kinds of lucky!
- Reality Check: Ummmm....it depends on the horse, but you will probably need to step up your pace more than anticipated (so train for it) just in case you loose a shoe/ boot, take a wrong turn, need some extra time at a hold to get your horse pulsed down, hydrated, and fed. So plan on keeping a nice steady moving out trot ALL DAY LONG except for tricky footing. Or your day may end on a very disappointing non-completion (been there, done that, bummer).
Newbie Belief # 4: This is going to be so easy, so hard, so something or the other.
- Reality Check: It will probably be exactly one of those things, but who the heck knows which one!
Newbie Belief # 5: Any horse can do the sport.
- Reality Check: Not really. A lot of healthy and prepared horses can do the sport. But if your horse has an underlying soundness issue, this will probably come out over the long miles in some way, shape, or form. Just like you may not be an endurance runner, you might be quite good at jogging around the block. Horses are like us. Some have athletic ability, and some don't. So be prepared for the possibility. Likewise, don't let one or two failures sideline you. There is a considerable learning curve to the sport. Your horse might be suited for endurance, or maybe limited distance is the limit. Embrace what works and works well.
Newbie Belief #6: I can run with the hot shoes (those who race).
- Reality Check: When your horse is ready, maybe you can, and then again maybe you shouldn't. Maybe you should put your horse's welfare first, then answer that question. That is not to say that nobody should come in first, it should just be done in the context of is the horse really ready for this. A horse new to the sport is going to need a year or two of toughening up first.
- Reality Check: Well---you just might be! With careful planning and the $ to attend a lot of rides, and slow completions, you in reality might pull this one off. We in the lower budget brackets, probably not. We pick and choose rides for personal challenge. To get miles, you need money for travel, expenses, ride entries. So it depends on your personal circumstance.
- Reality Check: Something is going to jump up and bite you on the cheek of your newbie butt for even thinking that. Call it Newbie Karma. It is the worst darned UGLY karma too. Humiliating, embarrassing, know better karma. Better to accept that you have a lot to learn, and pick the minds of those who actually DO KNOW IT. Stay humble.
Reality Check: Somebody's crooked orange gate after cousin Fred's farm on the north side of the high meadow not the low meadow is gonna sound like some kind of pig latin bull$hit. It's gonna swirl your brain up like a nutra-blender on the high setting. Just follow the ribbons (hopefully in the right direction) (don't ask...yeah, I'll fess up, I did half a course backwards).
Newbie Belief # 10: Speaking of ribbons, they are always on the right, always visible at the turn, always where you expect them to be.
Reality Check: The ribbons have been helpful, and are usually in the right place, but sometimes they aren't there. Some jerk pulled them down, some critter played with it and dragged it off to its bloody den, or you are color blind to blue and just missed it. Then it is going to suck to be you unless you have some boo coo map reading skills and are oriented to where you are in the first place, and because you are a newbie, you probably won't have a clue where you are, only that there is a right turn and a left turn and you don't know which one to take. Pick one and go down it a little ways looking for a ribbon hopefully on your right in the right color. If you don't find it, get your butt out of there, and try the other fork. Just so you know, I'm pretty sure nobody has wandered off course and died of starvation and their buzzard picked bones discovered on some subsequent ride. But if they do, it makes a great marker for a turn.
If you are a newbie. Don't be scared. Just be grounded in reality.
****Please support http://www.twohorsetack.com the leading supporter of Green Bean Endurance. They sponsored our group over $500 in biothane tack give-aways in one season. Helping out new people to gear up for the sport in a big way!