A large percentage of our problems in starting an endurance (or Limited Distance Horse) could be drastically if not totally eliminated if the rider would just slow down. In all honesty a good deal of my own personal snafus could have been less serious if I'd just take the time to enjoy the view, the sun on my skin, the smell of the forest, and the connection with my horse. Ultimately, every rider wants to do right by their horse, and end the day with a completion. But somehow the ultimate goals get lost in nerves, not riding our own ride, and getting caught up in the moment. I can say this truthfully as I've fallen flat on my face a few times doing just that. Did your horse trip on a root because you were hurrying and not watching? Step in a hole for the same reason? Use up its fuel reserves to early in the ride and just burn out? Sweat out all its electrolytes from over-exertion? Did you perhaps miss your horse was a little off while you were pushing towards the next check? Did you blow past a turn because you were in a hurry and do an extra five miles of trail? It bites! So what's your hurry cupcake?
This is one of those deals where I cast out my opinion unasked for, but there is a reason that riders are given set maximum times to get across the line. It isn't I believe to make you hurry, but rather to encourage responsible riding, building one's horse up to its ability and full capacity. The number one mistake I've seen happen to people (it happened to me) was to ride a first time horse along with an experienced rider who's horse is more experienced, and faster paced, than yours. It is a recipe for disaster to be pair with a rider who isn't riding the pace your horse needs to go. That scenerio may be alright for a short leg of a loop to make some time, but not having your horse pulled along in nothing short of flight mode for hours. This isn't a debate about ride or race. People do both. But when is the horse ready to race?
I have very few of the big answers. But if you are new and expecting to begin this sport at distances of 25-50 miles. Please do your homework (minimum of 12-16 weeks training for a non-fit horse). You are not going to a race, you are going to a ride. Please put your horse first always even above your other goals and remember that the mantra To Finish is to Win applies double or triple time to your equine friend.
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