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Friday, February 6, 2009

Season plans and "pull" musings

Ahh....blissful ignorance.  Pictured below is my very first ride on Minx.  

I made horsey and endurance goals for 2009. Admitting to doing this absolutely silly since none of my endurance seasons have gone according to "plan".

Endurance riders seem to have a phobia against pulls and marring their "perfect" record. Fortunately I got that out of the way early. Please don't be ashamed of your pulls. Not only are they learning experiences for you, but they could be learning experiences for others if you don't hide them away in a deep, dark hole.

I offer the following case studies as a source of amusement and reassurance to anyone who has done similar things.

2007 - my first season:
Miles attempted: 155
Miles completed: 0
Goals: Ride 6 50's, starting in April, in time to qualify for the Tevis. Ride the Tevis. (now you are allowed to laugh)
(pictured is Minx at our first 50 mile - American river)

I didn't finish ONE ride. At the end of those 3 rides I had a lame horse (tendonitis in both fronts) and a COMPLETE respect for the distance. 

By the end of the year I was so miserable my mother suggested I buy another endurance horse and that is how Farley arrived. Unfortunately she also bowed tendon 3 weeks after purchase, thus teaching me that you can do everything wrong and lame a horse, or, you can do everything right and, sometimes, they still go lame. LOL

Looking back, this season was worth every penny and tear for the education I received. I learned about pacing, riding my own ride, and listening to my gut feelings instead of being talked into something. I learned a heck of a lot about tendon injuries and I was able to catch Farley's minor bow on day one instead of week 6. I no longer judge people with lame horses.

1. If they caused the bow they already feel so guilty and miserable you don't need to rub it in. Support and encourage.

2. Sometimes lameness's are "acts of God". Neither the horse, nor the rider is at fault. Laugh and move on.

(Pictured:  Minx and I at our 2nd and 3rd 50 - it was a multi-day.  Yes I have a horrendous black was an "old war injury" - a horse injury from civil war reenacting.  Bridle+orbital ridge=a blackeye that will cause people to ask about the status of your boyfriend relationship.)


Miles attempted: Minx- 200, Farley-110
Miles completed:Minx-150, Farley-110
(Pictured: Minx at Diablo.  It was HOT and this was our first RO pull.  Photo was taken by the wonderful ride photographers, that I can't remember their names right now.....I'll update when I look it up)

Goals: Ride Minx in a 50 each month. Prepare Farley for her first 50.

Minx had three strong 50's that year. I learned the hills and heat together are not Minx's cup of tea and I had my first rider option in June 2008. Would I have RO pulled at this ride if I didn't have my pulls in 2007? Would I have been afraid of marring my perfect record? I hope I would have had the integrity to do what was right with my horses, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment it's so easy to make a wrong decision if it's not a situation I have been in before. I caught a minor lameness in Minx and gave her a few months off. Would I have done this if it hadn't been for the trials in 2007? Or would I have kept pushing?

(Pictured: Farley at her first ride - Del Valle.  See that sleepy look.  She's just starting to "get" that she's being tacked before dawn!)
I started Farley in Limited Distance (LD's). After a strong 30 and 25, I deci
ded to do a 55. All went well and we were ready for the 2009 season. 

Competing on a non-arab is completely different from doing endurance on an Arab. After conditioning and competing with Minx, I found that the training tips and programs that would work for an Arab, did not translate well to a Standardbred. Even during rides I couldn't ride with anyone because Minx's walk and trot speeds are completely different than an Arab's. Preparing Farley for endurance was SO EASY compared to Minx. (at least so need to get TOO confident!)

(Pictured, by the same photographer as the Diablo picture, is Farley during the Del Valle ride) 

(Pictured:  My cousin Eleanor and I at the Mariposa ride.  This is where I discovered bringing 2 horses to a ride really isn't worth it.  It's SO much more work and stress.  Nice to have discovered this fact NOW instead of at a ride where it could have really resulted in problems due to horse and rider stress level.....  I was competing in LD's only this weekend.).

Thoughts for the Day
Do you have any goals that you made, that you look back laugh at?

Have you ever not done the right thing for your horse because someone convinced you otherwise? Even though you knew what you should do?

In endurance, how dedicated are you to "ride your own ride"? No matter what anyone else is doing around you? Were you always like that, or did it come after a particular hard lesson of what happens when you don't? For the non-endurance/horsey readers, how about decisions you made in life? (college, a job etc.) How much were they influenced by other people?

That brings us to the 2009 season :) Stayed tuned for an upcoming post.


  1. haha...I love how with each successive ride, you gain more gear attached to your torso :)

  2. I really respect this post. One of the hardest things in the world to do is to call it a day, when you've worked so darned hard and long towards a goal. My feeling is that a distance rider's mantra should be "Ride Your Own Ride". Hooking up with someone and riding is great for training, but when you are competing, each rider will and should have their own tactics and ride management strategy. My favorite place to ride, and Phebes favorite place to ride is an empty pocket of our own, with some horses way ahead, or way behind. I'm trying to figure out how I can accomplish that on an actual ride so she doesn't just flame out.

    Wonderful blog post, thumbs UP. ~E.G.

  3. Thank you E.G.!

    Sometimes I feel like I'm being "mean" at a ride. Someone will talk about hooking up with me the night before, and I will lay it out in no uncertain terms that although they are welcomed, I will to ride my own ride. But it's worth it for me to feel like I can do what I want.

    About the ride pocket - I too try and get into a pocket as soon as possible. I have found (at least here out west), that there is usually a pocket in the middle of the pack. After the front runners head out, there's usually a pause before the rest of us get our act together. This is where I scoot in. I still have a handful of people that pass me, but very quickly (3-4 miles) I have my own space. I used to wait until EVERYONE had left, but that seemed to cause more problems because the energy level of everyone elses horses was HIGH, most of them were having problems with control, etc. If I leave before the craziness starts, I stay calmer and my horse stays calmer. Not sure if this would translate to your local rides though.

  4. Red girl - Also notice the cavarly boots in addition to the camel back in early pictures. I am much more comfortable now (see last riding picture with me on Farley at Del Valle)

  5. Oh, I have so been there! None of my ride seasons have gone according to plan, and I especially have to smile at the mention of Tevis, because that was *supposed* to be the plan for 2008/2009. As pointed out, things never go according to plan. :)


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