Let's just rip this band aid right off shall we?
I have decided to retire Q from competitive endurance.
It's a decision I've been pondering for over a year. My downtime due to COVID-19 has only helped solidify it for me.
Repeated comments about Q's way of going have made ride vettings feel a lot more like Russian Roulette than a routine double-check of the horse's condition. Fortunately (and very gratefully!), I received an absolute wealth of information about how to help resolve Q's gait at last year's Biltmore 50. It was eye-opening and amazing to learn so much about how I can help my favorite little mare. I worked through much of what those wonderful vets recommended for me and had hoped to give things a go for No Frills this past April, but then - as we all damn well know - the pandemic struck, life changed, and endurance competitions were put on pause.
While I was a bit bummed at first knowing any ride season I could have hoped to have had was not going to happen for 2020, I opted to make the most of it and just enjoy riding my horse. And you know what I've learned during this slow down and lack of endurance rides? I really don't miss the hustle and bustle of competition much at all.
Being put "on pause" this year has given me time to reflect on why I was attracted to endurance from the beginning. The answer? Camping with my horses, seeing beautiful terrain from horseback, and riding oodles of miles (at relative speed) across that terrain. Simply put, I wanna camp and ride fast through the wilderness.
And you know what? I absolutely do not need a competition aspect to do those things. I also don't have to ride a set number of miles in a set amount of time to enjoy those things. This seems like such a simple realization that I can't believe it took me the amount of time and thought it did to reach this point. But I'm here now, and it feels really damn good.
I'm already planning a series of 1-2 night adventures with Q this fall to make the most of the remaining months of warmer camping weather. I'm also carefully planning my camera setup for said trips, in a new effort to get some fun, high quality shots of Q and I riding in these beautiful places. Hopefully, I'll have a wealth of fun, new stories and trails to share in this space as the rest of the year unfolds.