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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 13, 2015

Understanding inconsistency in endurance

Inconsistency in endurance education/links/mentors/blah blah blah:  This is not intended in any way to be a negative post.  I'm ever grateful for the good and helpful advice I've received.  But I'm wondering if I am the only one that has experienced inconsistency in the information available out there?  And how does a new person wade through it and decide in the early stages this is right/ and that is not?  And if it is a gray gray is it?  I know some really decent experienced people lurk here, and I'm curious how these inconsistencies exist and prosper in the sport?    I'll give a few for instances:

  #1  For every 10 miles ridden give a day off.  vs.  a multi-day where you are told a horse gets stronger every day, like a five day ride of 50 a day.

 #2 Ride your new horses slow vs. riding too slow wears harder on the horse than just getting the thing done (less time with rider on back).

 #3.   Electrolyte (makes the horse drink) vs. do not electrolyte (too hard on the stomach).

#4 Start your horse in slow LD's for a year before you start 50's vs. Aim for a 50 from the start or the horse will learn he's done at 25 miles.

 #5 Don't condition over 25 miles a week total vs. If conditioning for a 50 do much longer conditioning rides, as in 20 miles at a pop.

 #6 Test ride a fake LD prior to competing vs.  No need to have mastered more than a solid 15 mile distance at pace.

#7  It is an endurance ride vs. it is an endurance race.

#8  Only do about three 50 mile rides your first season vs. You can ride a 50 once a month.

#9 It takes three years of slow completions before a horse is ready to race  vs.  If your horse is fit and prepared, you can race.

 All of these I suppose can be correct in a given situation, but they do indeed confuse what can and should be a simple beginning. At some time or other I've been given all of these differing viewpoints, and  I believe the opposing ideas of how to do it right can be confusing and somewhat intimidating to the truly green endurance rider.   When I look at these issues now days, I have an idea of how I do things on most, but a few are still murky, gray, areas.   Maybe it depends on the talent of your horse?   Maybe it depends on the talent of the rider?  Perhaps none of it really matters except what fits your litmus of acceptability?

In case you are interested, I have underlined my views where I tend to lean one way or another.  However my reasoning may not align with what you may think!  Sometimes I have no opinion, and sometimes I kind of cross both lines. 

Of the choices I've made oddly the one I have taken the most flack over was electrolyting my poor suffering metabolic challenged horse.  Oh the drama!  You will find very few in the Midwest who do not electrolyte, sometimes at every vet check!

I have been told that I under-condition my horse.  That I over-condition my horse.  Meh!  Both are right on a given week.  In truth I just kind of hang with the weather forecast and do the best I can.  My horse is mostly lazy and uninspired. 

Took a lot of heat early on about riding my horse too fast ...have you seen my ride times?  I've had to go FIND THE VET before and missed out on awards more than once because I was still out there on trail.  Missed the dinner once *LOL*.  Had to scrounge cold pizza and head back to the trailer to take care of my horse.

There are many things I wonder about.  I do not like gray areas, I like to lean on a good solid framework of ideas with merit, and testing by hardier souls than I.     I've read most of the worthy sources of information I've been able to get my hands on, even some obscure but interesting sources.  But at the end of the day, you have to make a decision, see how it goes, and look at yourself in the mirror when you are done, and still like who you see.  No truer words were ever said than the eye of the horse is the mirror of his soul.  When all else fails, read that!


  1. Glad to see you underlined "it's an endurance race". Is there a more stupid waste of time other than arguing whether this is a ride or a race? Of COURSE it's a race! No one wins a ride. You don't have to run fast if you don't care about winning, you can go slow and finish in the max allowed time, but it's still a freakin' race. That does NOT prevent people from doing it. Sheesh...

  2. EG- your absolutely right.. there is a lot of contradicting info out there. It seems everyone has an opinion . In the end, I think I found that I did the best when I stopped worrying about doing things "by the book" or according to those who have been around the sport for years because every horse and rider is different. I found that I just understood the basics, and payed attention to my horse, and how he/she responded, I was fine. It's an ongoing process, things are always going to change.

  3. I think it's all good advice. Bottom line, know your horse. Training plans, feed programs, tack, clothing... It all needs to be individualized. It's easier always to add more but hard to cut back. I think a few long rides before the "race" are important. It's how you get to work the kinks out.