Doesn't seem like much for seven years in AERC does it? But each of them meant a lot to me. 17 rides/14 completions/2 rider options (the pulls) and 1 overtime. A lot of sweat equity went in to that little bit of competition in the sport. To those with bigger wallets, more financial resources, might scoff at that little old bit. But let me say again, that it meant a lot to me. Two horses, mostly started from scratch, a concussion, a broken finger, a couple of black eyes, eating more dirt on the first horse than I ever ...ever...want to eat again. Thousands of miles in preparation for those few rides, because you see, when you only complete a couple of sanctioned rides a year, you do a lot of re-inventing (reconditioning). Over, and over, and over. As I staunchly refuse to pull a horse straight out of pasture to complete an LD. It's just wrong. So much effort on my part has gone into that little bit.
425 miles have taught me that I have no clue if, how, or when I'd ever attempt a 100. I get all kinds of excited about people who manage it, but the more I ponder on it, the less I want to "ask" my horse to do it. I'm sure it is proof of amazing horsemanship skill, and stamina for the horse. My heart is wholly unwilling to ask her to that so that "I" can say I did. That is not to say anyone else should or shouldn't. It just isn't something I care to ask of Journey just so I can wave the 100 mile flag. I've toyed with the idea a few times, and always decide "meh." Honestly Journey likely has more aptitude than I credit her with, and more aptitude than her rider has most certainly. But we are stuck with each other, and her looking happy and bouncy at the end of a ride is more important. So Journey has taken me on 4/LD's and 2 / Endurance 50's. She has finished slower on each ride. Back to back LD's make her about equally as unhappy with me as doing a 50. So my goals in the future will be mostly geared to keeping Journey happy, what ever we are doing, how little or how much.
425 miles has taught me more about myself than anything else ever has. It has made me think, problem solve, dig a bit deeper than I thought I could, and mentally persevere when pain set in. It taught me to appreciate fully the four legs that drag me all over hell and creation, uphill, downhill, trotting until you want to puke. Riding with bleeding legs, broken digits, and some very close calls that could have ended quite badly for me...but I managed to pull myself through.
425 miles has taught me a lot about people. That there are incredibly talented people revered in this sport who are not nice people. It has taught me that there are incredibly talented people in this sport who are especially good, kind, and generous to a fault. Those people you mostly don't hear about, because they tend to be humble too. I've run across a few out there doing their thing, helping new people, and promoting the sport to new riders. I like those people. I like them a lot ☺
425 miles has taught me that endurance is not for sissys, it has its risks, and most of those risks are for the horse. Those risks aren't talked about too much and most endurance riding organizations aren't very open in regard to horse fatalities. Those things do happen. It can happen to you, and it can happen to me. So eyes wide-open...try to ride to your horse's capability. Understand that a conscientious rider can have a very bad end to a ride. Understand that all can go great and you may do things you never thought you could. But then again...your horse could have a tragedy right out in the paddock.
425 miles has taught me to just do my best. I don't owe explanation to anyone. I have no need to meet anyone else's ideas of what I should be doing, when I should be doing it, how I should be doing it. I may pull my own plug tomorrow, or next week, or in ten years. It is for sure that I cannot make everyone happy, all I might do is love my spotted pony and answer for myself.
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