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.
i've kinda hit the same thing - I can test and push myself at home and while I'd love to go to a show and show off I don't find that I NEED it as much as I used toReplyDelete
And you'll still slay some long rides.
Not needing that external stimulus from competitions is a wonderful feeling!Delete
I am so fascinated by the camera set up part of this. Can't wait to hear more about that process! ❤️ReplyDelete
Haha, not too crazy. Mostly just figuring out how to carry stuff and how to limit which lenses I take because that shit gets heavy and awkward - especially when riding!Delete
That is a lovely revelation to have and the fact you absolutely can still go do those things with the horse you love is perfect.ReplyDelete
I don't think there's anything wrong with our dreams and goals changing as time goes by and we age and change and our horses age and change. You've said it much better than I can. I hope you have a wonderful fall enjoying your horses and I'll look forward to seeing scenic photos on your blog!ReplyDelete
aw that's a tough realization to come to, tho maybe relieving at the same time. 2020 has defied basically all my best intentions, efforts, expectations, you name it. but when seen through the lens of being a 'year of inflection points,' it's been fairly interesting all the same. good luck with your next adventures with Q!ReplyDelete
Definitely a relief to approach the decision! And besides, it opens the door to more options to explore both eventing with Grif AND schooling dressage shows with Qdle.Delete
This year has made me realize that my next horse will almost definitely not be an endurance horse, at least, not on purpose. While I *do* miss competition, the things you describe here are what I miss the most, too. I wish now more than ever that I had a horse of my own to just toodle around on and enjoy. I want to be able to just go out and adventure on trail at my own pace, preferably alone LOLReplyDelete
Yessss to adventures at your own pace on trail .... alone!Delete
You and Q are going to kill it at whatever you decide to do. Horses are all about enjoyment and growth. Eeyore is now able to go back on trail and I can't wait to get back in the woods and find my peace there again.ReplyDelete
I'm SO glad Eeyore is able to get back on trails with you. I know it's your happy place =)Delete
And yet another person making the same decision here. 3 yrs into a new horse and not having yet figured out if he'd be good at endurance or not, I realized quickly that I did NOT miss the conditioning aspect. The constant "did I ride enough this week", "I'll ride Tues, Thurs, Sat". I love what you love -- camping, new trails, and MOVING OUT on the trail. Here in the Midwest we call walk-only riders "horn huggers". As long as my horse is willing to trot and canter every chance there is on a trail, that's what gets me in my Happy Place.ReplyDelete
Horn huggers LMAO. Oooh that's a good one. I love it. So accurate, too. Though I will say, most horn huggers I know also heavily imbibe on alcohol while they plod along, so if you're gonna love on that horn a little, at least have a bevy in hand!Delete
Great to hear...I too have found that I don't have to compete to enjoy my 4 long distance horses. I, too, am a 100 miler...this year has given me time to just relax, ride when I want...fast or slow...and not be on a time clock, although I work a lot...less is more all the way around...good for you!ReplyDelete
That not being on a time clock is huge. The pressure of it always made me enjoy the moments a little less and after this year and all the world stresses, I'm ready to enjoy everything as much as I can as long as I can with no pressure!Delete
Like you, I've had SO much fun at home this year, without worrying about the stress of competition. My last endurance ride was so miserable (freight train for 50 miles) that I'd kind-of decided the same. But there is one local ride that is great, so maybe not? I guess I can't make as definitive a decision as you did, but I'm sure you'll find plenty of adventures and trails, can't wait for those stories too!ReplyDelete
I hear you re: local ride! I think if we still had a local ride (though, the OD rides are pretty damn close to me all things considered), I may feel differently. Still, there is always sweep riding to be done. =)Delete
I'm in a similar boat. Finally realized that showing wasn't really making me happy, then went through a rough phase questioning why I have a horse if I don't show, and now I'm at peace with the face that I can love horses without needing to compete on them.ReplyDelete
Maybe someday I'll do it again. Maybe not. For now, I'm happy where I'm at.
It's funny/nice how we're all in that same place this year. I missed shows in june but now I'm more 'meh' about it. I too really want to camp and ride horses in beautiful terrain.ReplyDelete
It is kinda nice to be in the same place with this little communityDelete
Yay for coming to this conclusion and having a really fun plan in place. You kinda made me think "huh, do i even like competing? Or do I just like being with my horse somewhere?" Answer is that I still like competing, but it's good to check in :)ReplyDelete
Definitely good to check-in!Delete
Yes! I've only done one endurance ride with my horse, and it was SO much fun. But looking at hauling several hours to pay $100 to ride a trail with a bunch of people I don't know vs. spending $75 to camp at Bryce Canyon for the weekend.... well, I'm taking the horse camping instead! The idea of endurance really appeals to me, but I'm really leaning towards just taking my horse camping a lot.ReplyDelete
Redheaded Endurance here--or should I say, a redhead who loves to ride her horses, too :) I am right there with you on many levels. I only ever started endurance as a junior because it was an organized way to hang out with my horse endlessly. Totally still doing that!ReplyDelete
I do still feel a tug to keep whacking at the Decade Team with Kenny but that's literally one competition a year. We'll see!
Yes to hanging out with horses endlessly. It's all I want from life, haha. And I hear you re: Decade Team! I had wanted to keep plugging away at that - it was my biggest goal all along.Delete
I'm super competitive and it really hurts me to not have a horse sport. When I came to Germany I had the idea I'd do endurance here. But after visiting/crewing a few rides, I realized it's not my sport. It's a whole 'nother sport here and fails to meet your two criteria which make endurance fun. 1. what wilderness? 2. what camping? It was a heartbreaking revelation. Just recently somoene showed me their photos from their riding adventure in "the wilderness" and it looked exactly like here, and same type of trails - riding on streets through towns is inevitable. I was crushed to realize there is no place for me to really enjoy riding here. I was planning on buying a horse trailer but then I realized there's just no where to go.ReplyDelete
Sorry to whine on your blog but you really got my attention when you shared what you enjoy most about endurance.
Oh, Lytha. I'm so sorry to hear all of that. How very frustrating and heartbreaking.Delete
The good part is I truly love my horse and he doesn't have any idea what endurance is, so he cannot miss it. The other good part is I have this awesome farm that just expanded in size and character.Delete
Hey, can you do a blog post about low country boil? I'm fascinated by this.
Haha, I'll have to look into that. I haven't participated in one of those since last winter!Delete
Horse camping sounds like the perfect way to enjoy your horse and the beautiful area you live in!ReplyDelete