Last Sunday I went on a 20 mile training ride with the only endurance rider in my area. It was incredible!
She’s traveled all around the country and has even been to Europe to race during her career. She’s raced her own horses and those of others. She repeatedly has top finishes and best condition awards. And, to top it off, for the past few years she’s had barefoot horses. No boots, just barefoot.
She’s put up with a lot of opposition for barefooted horses at certain rides – and she won’t hesitate to shoe if a ride is particularly gnarly – but where vets and others would have seen her fail at some rides in the past, she pushed onward and ended up winning and getting best condition with her horses. Pretty crazy, but really amazing. I can’t imagine standing up to opposition like that at first. Its really cool to know someone that did.
I learned a lot from her on our ride. A lot.
She confirmed a lot of things I’d only been able to read about, and I learned that a lot of what I’m doing is exactly right (or at least they’re things she’s done and had great success with). Its nice to know I’m approaching things in a good way – especially as such a beginner.
The horse I rode was a 10 year old non-papered Arabian she’s training for a friend in Venezuela, Shasta. He’s ~15hh and has a lot of get up and go. Her ride is a 7 year old Arabian, Eagle, who has even more get up and go.
Shasta trips a lot on his walk/trot transitions and has the slowest walk I’ve ever experienced outside a trained western pleasure horse. His preference is for cantering/galloping – and boy can he ever! I never put him into a full gallop, but riding such a made horse was a lot of fun.
Trotting was ~9-10 mph pace, and our cantering segments were ~20 mph. We used the first and last miles of our 20 to walk and get warmed up cooled down (it was a 96+° day with high humidity) and to get to and from the rail trail. For the 18 middle miles (all on a relatively flat path) we averaged 9.6 mph and when cantering were hitting our ~20mph benchmark. Pretty incredible!
I rode in one of her Boz saddles. Other than not being used to a pommel of that size, it was really comfortable for me. I can see why so many love them, though I'm not sure its something I could end up with in the long run because of that pommel - I'd have to adjust my riding style to accommodate it.
After our ride she complimented me multiple times on how well I rode and how nice it was to ride with someone who really knew what they were doing. Additionally, she hopes I'll be able to go to some races with her this fall! WHAT FUN! 50s mostly, but she did mention the distinct possibility of a 100 in November sometime. Oh dear goodness!
After our 20 mi ride, I realized how out of shape I am. When I trained Stan 5 years ago I got in shape as I got him in shape - just jumping on a made horse and trying to keep up was rough. If I were to race with her this fall I will definitely have to work on myself! Fortunately Q's workouts will be more steady and slowly increasing in time/distance/difficulty over the next few months, so that will help. (Not being in the stinky hot and on a continuous flat with my body constantly in the same position will also help...)
Overall, an incredible experience and I can't wait for more like it. I'm so excited to work on myself and work on my own horse (who I was assured, yet again, looks like a very good endurance prospect! - it means so much more coming from such an accomplished rider, though.). Bring on the fall. =)
OH, additionally...I need your help, endurance/LD riders! I'm going to join AERC in the next few days - is there any benefit to doing the extra $20 liability/insurance thing?? Thanks in advance!