Thursday, April 19, 2012

A question - all answers welcome!

Most of y'all have been reading my blog for a while, and most of y'all are not endurance riders. There's a periodic discussion on Ridecamp, the endurance listserv, about how to attract new riders to the sport, and that discussion always includes shorter distances and their place in AERC endurance.

So here's my questions: Are you interested in endurance, at any distance? Why or why not? Would you be interested in a 10-15 mile endurance-type ride? A 25 mile ride?

You may be thinking that a 15 mile "endurance" ride sounds exactly like CTR (competitive trail riding), and I kinda think so too. I don't have a dog in this fight - I just think that Ridecamp is an echo chamber. By definition, the only people reading Ridecamp are those who do endurance or are interested in doing endurance. Talking on Ridecamp about how to attract people who aren't officially interested in endurance is guesswork at best.

I think the main difference between limited distance (25 mile) endurance and CTR is that CTR has more judging. Correct me if I'm wrong (Dom and Tammy, I know you've done CTR) but in a CTR you often have a pace you must hit - if you go too fast or too slow you're penalized. CTR judges look at all aspects of your horsemanship and horsekeeping - here's an example of the extent of their judging.

Endurance rides are concerned only with the fitness of the horse to continue. You have a maximum time to complete a ride (less than 5 mph will do it), and your horse must be judged to be sound at the start, vet check, and finish, but other than that, anything goes. You can do your 25 miles in 3 hours or in 5:59, your choice. Your horse must compete drug-free, and I think you have to have a saddle, but that's about it.

If you are sort of maybe interested in long fast trail rides, would you pay, oh, $40-50 to do one? You'd get vets on standby in case your horse got into trouble, food, a t-shirt, your miles tracked/possible year-end awards, and the opportunity to camp with crazy people like me.

I assure you that any sound horse can do 15 miles in under three hours, with a couple months of conditioning. Almost any sound horse can do 25 miles in six hours. Doing 50 miles in one day is metabolically and physically hard on horse and rider, but 25 miles or less is really not difficult. "I don't think my horse can do it" is the only excuse I won't believe in the comments. "It sounds like hell" or "just not my thing, yo" or anything else is perfectly acceptable! A lot of yall have disciplines (hunter/jumper/dressage shows, I'm looking at you) that just don't sound like my thing at all.

So: interested in endurance? Interested in mini-durance? If you read this, please take the time to say yes/maybe/hell no - I'd really appreciate it!

55 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Beel said:
      I have thought endurance would be fun, but don't have the time to fully condition a horse. A "fifteener", however, might just be a blast!

      Bill

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    1. cndcowgirl said:

      I'd be interested in 25s or 15s. But they just aren't done around here. The ONE website I could find with any info for endurance in my area, well it hasn't been updated in a couple years from the looks of things.
      Doing something as challenging as a 50 would interfere with chasing cows and running barrels ;)

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    1. Becky said:
      I kind of like the idea of a shorter time frame from a "babysitting" standpoint - I know that's not a really good reason, but there you go. I have two young kids that I can take care of and keep well-organized and quiet enough that they won't be a huge hassle in ride camp. Still, they're young, and taking care of them isn't easy. Finding someone to watch them while I go on a 25 mile ride would be one thing... finding someone willing to hang out at camp and watch them while I go on a 15 mile ride would be much easier. Heck, as they get older they can ride with me on a 15 mile ride a lot sooner than 25 mile ride.

      Anyways, I'm obviously in the hell yes camp for endurance, even though circumstances (two noisy offspring) will keep me from being hardcore any time soon. Mini-durance sounds pretty cool.

      On the other hand, if you want to keep noisy kids out of camp you might want to consider not doing minidurance. (I just like saying that word.)

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    1. I have no idea what I said an hour ago. :CRY:

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  5. Awesome question! I think one thing that keeps me from trying it is lack of knowledge. I don't have any friends here who do it so it's hard to be well informed. And looking at the AERC ride calendar it doesn't look like there is much going on in my area which makes things difficult too. I'd say I'm a little intimidated by the distance stuff. It sounds fun but being in a situation where I can't ride every day means there is no way I could get up to the required standard of fitness. I would have to put myself in the interested but not sure how camp. Maybe shorter rides are the answer to help break in the noobies.

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  6. "It's more than 4 hours to my nearest AERC ride" but I ride anyhow. My nearest ride is 4.5 hours (through city traffic and over a mountain pass that inevitably gets sn*w on the weekend I want to cross it).

    That said: once I discovered that the sport existed, nothing was going to keep me from participating in endurance. Not lack of horse, truck, trailer, training, tack, or good sense. Ten-plus years and 2,000-plus miles later, I have some of each of that stuff, and I'm willing to help anybody who is within 4 hours drive of me...or is in my region (Pacific NW: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, plus a bit of Montana) even if you are far from me. Hell, I'll help you even if you live on another continent, if you want to play the game.

    We can start with mini-durance (I like that word): no matter where you are, if you want help riding farther than 10 miles in less than 3 hours, contact me and I will help. If the addiction takes hold, I'll be thrilled. If we both learn something, I'll be happy. If we have any fun anywhere along the line, I'll be satisfied.

    Yes?

    --Aarene (aarenex AT haikufarm DOT net)
    p.s. Funder has read my book. She knows my offer is serious!

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  7. OH MY GOD WRONG BUTTON

    google this may be the last straw, why isn't there an undo button

    OMG i am hyperventilating

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    1. I said something along the lines of "I don't have time to train for a REAL ride, but a fifteener would be a blast!"

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  8. I'm a relatively beginner rider, and I'd love to do endurance riding (it meshes up with a lot of my non-horse physical activities/interests) but I have no idea how I'd do it without leasing or owning a horse.
    Other than that obstacle, sounds awesome!

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  9. You didn't delete my comment, so maybe the others aren't really gone.

    Right?

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  10. Coming from a busy person just getting back into this sport; I really do like the Fun Ride concept and at the 15 mile distance. That is always doable, and I am happy to see a number of rides offering that option even though it is not AERC sanctioned. It allows one to be able to go do the fun weekend camp thing, enjoy socialization with like minded crazy horse friends, get cool ride photos and t-shirt, but is absolutely not as mind or physically stressful. Even though I was aiming all winter to have a horse ready to do a 25 mile LD in March; that horse wasn't coming along the way I had hoped, and so then I moved back first ride for another month and she still wasn't there and I realized she wasn't likely to ever be there and be happy about it, so at the 11th hour I sold that horse into an appropriate home but still wanted to go on a ride and had only 2 weekends left prior to a semi-local event...no problem; they were offering a fun ride...and although I considered briefly entering my horse into the LD because he handled himself very well I decided it was not fair to him since I knew he really wasn't in shape and was going on heart and I knew I would feel TERRIBLE if he got injured. The fun ride option solved my dilemma. I just wished at that ride it was 15 miles, not 10 miles, but none the less it allowed me the opportunity to go to a ride and enjoy all the perks of going to an event without overdoing it. I think it is great to have a non-competitive ride at that distance. I don't think it would be a good idea to make it into any kind of competition over than perhaps allowing the miles to accumulate for maybe a year end mileage award. I do not like how 25s have morphed into races; that used to be the intro ride of AERC. I am against awarding top 10 in 25s, but then again, I'm conservative. I had liked the idea of 25s being more for training sense than training race brains...

    Anyway, I've been reading some of the discussion on Ride Camp. I don't think AERC needs to become NATRC or ACTHA like. I do think there is a niche that is not covered that some ride managers are already doing by offering the non-sanctioned shorter distances. If AERC were to embrace that concept, it could bring more memberships. Regardless of whether the 15 mile just for the mileage concept ride is embraced, I know that I will continue to take advantage of them whenever I don't have a horse I feel is ready to go LD. I also know that my non-endurance type friends find a marked low pressure trail ride with fun perks interesting and doable.

    Oh, and one other nice thing I like about the fun ride concept and specifically how it was handled at Whiskeytown Chaser last weekend, is that the Fun Ride participants were tracked by spotters all throughout the course just like the "real" endurance riders. It allowed me to feel a measure of security riding my horse out by himself without any riding companions knowing that I would be "missed" if something went afoul. I do not as a rule ride solo for safety concerns, but it sure was nice to find out that I could!

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  11. Back in the day when I used to trail ride, the thought of going 5 miles at one time made my ankles, knees, butt, and back hurt. I always tried to keep my rides as short as I could... I'd rather go out for 2 miles in the morning, 2 miles again at lunch, and then 2 miles again at night. I've heard that endurance is different because you're moving out and find a "sweet spot" that keeps you from feeling like you can't possibly stay in the saddle any longer. I've never done more than 5 miles at one time, though, so I can't verify.

    Now that I'm done rambling, I'd be willing to try a mini-endurance ride of some sort. $40-$50 sounds reasonable for all the things you mentioned, and having a group of people to ride with and camp with would be a lot of fun. That's what I miss most about trail riding. We always had a blast at camp.

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  12. Yes yes yes! I'm in a situation where I know my leased Haflinger can do 25, I have absolutely no doubts about that, and I'm reasonably certain I can stick with her that long. (Or at least I will be able to in a month when I'm back in better shape.) But.. my preference would have been to start her out with a 10 or 15, see how she does in that sort of situation, see how I do, and work from there. It's a little bit terrifying to just plunge headfirst into a 25 with my total experience with formal rides being helping at the vet check for one ride last year (granted, the same ride, but still!).

    Compounding the difficulty is that I have two usual trail riding partners: my Haffie's owner on one of her other two, or a TWH and his owner. TWH has done 25, but isn't entirely convinced she wants to do another one, though they're both capable. As for the other Haffies? One is 21 with some arthritis in her hinds, the other 19 who she tried a 25 CTR on in his younger days and he quit around mile 23. Just quit and had enough. Either Haflinger could do 10 or 15, and we'd be comfortable asking that of them, but 25 is too much.

    So. With that in mind. The tentative plan last fall was to do a semi-local (1 or 2 hours away) "Fun Ride" of 10 or 15 miles with my mare and one of the other Haflingers. The weather sucked that weekend, and some other family stuff interfered, so that fell through. I'm now tentatively planning to enter her in the very-local 25. We've ridden some of the trails, there's the possibility of the TWH coming along, and there are corrals there so I don't have to worry about having her tie to the trailer overnight. She might be okay, she might not, and buying panels/hi-tie/etc seems a little bit silly for a first ride. Not only do we not know how either of us will like it, I'm a broke college student.


    Aarene, if you were local, I'd take you up on it! (Bay Area, CA here..)

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    1. Figure, you know I'm about to move out there, right? I'd be happy to do an intro or LD ride with you and your friend, any time after late May. Email me and remind me after I get settled!

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  13. Btw, one apparently doesn't need a 'saddle.' A woman down here does LDs in a bareback pad. Can't say her horse's back isn't usually sore but... apparently it's not required, lol. As for the question... well you know me as a budding endurance junkie. One 50 in, next aimed for next week! But I think we need 'mini-durance' to get people pulled in. I've had riders I've run across tell me I'm nuts for 25 at a good clip, let alone 50. Maybe if they can get their toes wet they'd come and try a 25 at least? Dunno, just got bite by the endurance bug and question anything else now.

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  14. Question for Aarene & Funder, and it will probably sound stupid... what about gear? For someone wanting to do the mini-durance would it be ok to ride in a regular ole western saddle?
    (granted most of my saddles are barrel saddles so they are way lighter than, oh let's say a roper)

    btw Funder mini-durance is an excellent word. If you coined it you should let AERC know about it and claim rights to it before someone else claims THEY thought of it.

    OH! And if doing 25s or 15s meant a gal could would be allowed to wear smiley tights and even more for it! :)

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    1. cdncowgirl - People ride 100's in Western saddles! You REALLY don't need anything special in regards to tack to get started, other than some way to carry a bit of water for yourself if you don't already have. That's one of the beauties of the sport.

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  15. I have always dreamed of doing endurance at some point of my life. Back in the day I used to charge 4 hour trail rides on Crisp- and I loved it.
    There ARE a few endurance events around my area- but really, I'd have to completely switch around my training to make it possible. And well, I love my dressage.
    If I ever god out of dressage (it can happen!) Endurance would be my first choice.

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    1. Leeshy - if your horse is being ridden regularly for dressage (3-5 times a week for an hour or so), your horse is ALREADY fit enough to go out and complete a 25-30 mile ride. =)

      REALLY, it's NOT as hard as people think! My first endurance horse (NOT an Arab) did his first 30 mile LD after I had owned him for just over 30 days. His longest ride until that point was about 10 miles. If you pace conservatively and consistenly, it really is possible for most semi-fit horses to complete a LD. Remember that most rides have a 30-60 minute break around the half way mark.

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  16. I have thought about doing endurance with Poppy. It would be awesome to do but endurance is pretty uncommon here, most people are into eventing, show-jumping or dressage - or like me mounted games.
    If there were endurance outings around here i would definitely have a go doing some.

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  17. Hi Funder! I have just caught up with your blog! This really quite interesting! For some time now the SERC. (scottish endurance riding club) has had the same issues about attracting new riders. Our costs are quite high due to vets etc. But ride entries are`nt too bad. Say? £10:00 for what we call a pleasure ride(less than 20 miles done at no less than 5mph-7mph) we also charge roughly £1 pound per mile for the Competetive rides that is 20 miles and above, plus charges for those rides where the horse and rider combi is on a qualifier.
    So I suppose the main thing for us is costs. We have tried to do more pleasure rides, and keep the costs down, but we find that, to subsidise the Comp rides, we need more Pleasure riders, as there are`nt enough doing the comp rides at times. Vets are running at 150-200 pounds for a day!..... So I dont think lack of riders is just a local thing, it seems that its across the board. Plus we are now finding that landowners are starting to ask for some kind of kickback!

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  18. Endurance is something I LONG to do! I am currently horseless [and broke, so who knows when my next horse will come along!] Hopefully I can take it up!

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  19. I'd totally be in for shorter rides - the longest I've done so far is only 6 miles, so 10, 12 or 15 sounds really feasible, compared to jumping in at 25. Our provincial endurance peeps offer a couple of shorter "mileage" rides in the spring for people to get used to things if they aren't ready for 25. I have yet to do an official ride anywhere off the property because of no trailer. And now I sort of have a lame horse. So no plans for anything this year.

    I believe the CTRs here have 12 mile options at some rides. CTRs here are fast and more competitive and the judging is heavily factored into the score. Not as appealing to a beginner for sure. Most beginners (myself included) would only want to ride at the 5-6 mph range...

    And to Cdncowgirl's comment - I have been riding in a western saddle so far - Someone more experienced would know better though what would be best...

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  20. Would I be interested in competing in endurance? Yep! Am I interested in legging up and working my horse each day to condition her for hours? Probably not. I used to ride endurance arabs for a job when I was 19/20. I LOVED it, but I know how much bloody trotting is involved and how many HOURS in the saddle it takes.

    Plus my horse would hate it. She is a princess that likes to be ridden out on trails, but only for so long then she runs out of steam. Plus she HATES hills.

    So I guess a shorter ride that a normal schooled 3-4 times a week walk trot canter and jumps) horse would already be fit enough to complete would be my cup of tea.

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    1. It is possible to get a horse 50-mile (and up) fit by only riding once or maybe twice a week. I HAVE done this and I did not have a *super* horse (or an Arab). You start small and let your rides be your training. Doing a two-day back to back ride is a great way to determine if your horse is ready for more. Want to do a 25? Do a 15/10 over the weekend. Most horses are quite capable of this.

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    2. This. Very few endurance riders, even at the upper levels, actually ride their horses daily. That's a good way to burn out and cause injury.

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  21. A few comments... heck, this is probably going to be as long as a blog post so hang with me...

    I've competed off and on in CTR over the last few years because it is the only venue close to me. What Funder said is true - you are given a window in which to compete. You lose points if you come in too early or too late; forward motion the entire time. The horse is given 100 points at the beginning and so it the rider. You are judged separately. Horse on Condition, Soundness and Trailability (manners) and rider on horsemanship which includes grooming, trail equitation and trail safety and courtesy. A lot of things fall in those categories like having proper safety equipment, tying correctly, rider position in the saddle, etc.

    During the window of a CTR ride, you will be asked to do obstacles most often natural to the trail. Some you stop and are given direction, others are just judges observing you - sometimes hiding in the trees - to make sure you aren't tailgaiting the horse in front of you or that you are off the horse's back when going up a hill. As an aside, I HATED the idea of obstacles when I first competed but the more I did it, the more I liked it. Just a little "fun" put into the ride. The very first time I competed, I did awful. I was on my husband's horse (Windy's dam) and she was not up to silly pet tricks. Her score was a pitiful 57. I came in with an 81. By comparison, the last time I competed at the same ride, Windy came in with a 95 & placed 2nd and I scored a 90 and placed 4th. It is truly a sport that you can learn from and actually "see" your improvements as you compete.

    The CTRs that I have competed are most often 20 - 25 miles on Day 1 and 15 - 20 on Day 2. A vet sees your horse before and after each days ride and along the trail.

    A 15 mile "limited distance" would seem a little short for competition unless it was a 2 day, 15 miles each day ride. I would love to do a 25 mile LD, but like someone else said, there are not many in our area; perhaps 2 within 5 hours or so? I'm not ready for a 50 and not sure I want to travel that far for a one day 25 mile ride. But back to the sport itself, if one were within 2 or 3 hours, I would definitely do it.


    Someone mentioned ACTHA. I don't put them in the distance ride category AT. ALL. It is basically a trail challenge, most often a lot less than 10 miles and for the price (membership plus entry = about $90), pretty pricey for a short ride. On an aside, our Trails Committee hosts a trail challenge with all proceeds going to horse trail improvements. We get a lot of non-distance type people attending and its a blast to put on. And we only charge a $30 donation. I think here is a niche for this type of ride but I don't think it is endurance type riders who attend; more to the pleasure riders.


    I think we have the population and locations in our area to host an AERC ride and I am a planner extraordinaire and would love to be a ride manager, but hard to plan something you know nothing about.

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  22. Cndcowgirl asked about gear:

    For a CTR (approx 40 miles over the weekend), I don't have any special gear. I use my lightweight western saddle (weighs about 25 pounds with rigging) and my regular trail bags, etc. I do try to pack light. I think saddle fit for a CTR is more important than weight. Once when competing I forgot my saddle pad in my other trailer and had to borrow and that was the only time Windy came up with a saddle sore. So tried and true equipment is VERY important.

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    1. Thanks! My barrel saddles are about 25lbs too. Some people say they aren't that comfy but I use mine whether I ride for 30 min of 3-4 hours and I find them comfy. No problems with the horses either, once I've got fit and blankets/pads sorted out :)

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  23. I'd love to try endurance, but I dont know of anyone who does it around here and have never heard of an organization either. Also my horse really doesnt have the brains to do endurance or any sort of off property work thats not in a ring. but if i had a different horse (and hey maybe eventually mine will grown up) then I would give it a try :) 15s would definatly make it easier for people who just want to try it like me.

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  24. I just looked it up and they havent posted dates for this year yet but looking at last years it looks like some places here do off 15s and even 12s.

    http://www.endurancecanada.ca/CdnRideDates.htm

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  25. I think its obvious by now that I'm game! For just about anything. And honestly, I'd like to give a few 100s a try before I die. Little snot is clearly capable of some speed, so I hope he stands up to some endurance, too by the time he comes of age!

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  26. My farrier is a dressage rider who has covered converted to endurance the last couple of years. Her last time out she won a 50! I would love to do a couple of rides. Me main concern is having the time to get my horse fit enough. Plus I have two warmbloods and hunter/jumper tack. I wonder how much I would be laughed at, but then I dont really care.

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    1. You would probably NOT be laughed at, at all! =) There have been some warmbloods that do quite well. We have two Freisan-crosses out here in NV/CA that are successfully completing 100-mile rides. This is one sport where you show up with what you have and are "judged" on a pretty even platform: you can either do it or you can't. Not much in between. ;)

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    2. I do endurance on my standardbred with a Wintec saddle and no saddle bags. He kicks butt at it and nobody laughs. In fact, I've gotten a few people to adopt standies for endurance. I LOVE seeing non-Arabs competing. There's a very successful draft horse on the east coast who does 50's.

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  27. Yup, I'd do an endurance ride (not a 50 though, but butt and knee would be the end of me), but I'd really like to do some CTRs. I have friends who do them and have an absolute blast.

    And camping with crazy horse people? Can't beat it!

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  28. I'm interested in rides of all lengths and love LD's as they are currently set up. I'm not a big fan of CTR and like that it's separate from endurance. The crowd that does CTR is VERY different from the endurance crowd, and I feel like both parties like it that way. I enjoy doing a 15 mile ride for conditioning, but that's what hunter paces are for!! We don't do a dressage category in the jumper ring... why muddle things in endurance?

    I actually really HATE that you have to hit a certain pace at CTR. Holding my poor horse back to 6mph is a lot harder on him than just trotting at his normal 10mph. It's an unnatural gait and he doesn't do well at CTR as a result. It's certainly not because he isn't fit enough. I do think a lot of people drop their horses to CTR when they can't cut it in endurance.

    Endurance in its current format looks out for the welfare of the horse and ensures that the horses competing are qualified to do so. I think changing that would be a mistake, just like changing long format in eventing was a mistake (don't get me started).

    I think LD's are a great way to get non-endurance people interested and started, and agree that ANY healthy horse can do LD with a little conditioning. In fact... I'll up the ante and say that any sound horse can get ready for an LD in a month if the rider goes about it correctly. (Ask me how I know... Rayzer).

    /ramble

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  29. I'm doing my first LD in a week, but I really wish there were more intro rides. I would have liked to go to an event, deal with all the drama, learn about vet checks and ridecamp, start later and just do 10-15 miles with a mentor/guide. There are only about 2 intro rides in my area, both very far away. If rides didn't want to offer that, what about clinics, with or without horses, to promote the sport.

    As an aside, Ridecamp (the site) terrifies me. Me, doing my piddly little 25, not really endurance I know, but do these people even remember being new? Or worried? Maybe they're only the brave types, or only the rude ones speak up, but in the last year the anti-LD camp has been very vocal, no counting miles, it's not endurance, etc.

    ok, sorry for the whining, I think you asked for it! 8-)

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  30. Wow, thanks very much for the feedback so far! I thought a few of yall would be interested in mini-durance, but I didn't know so many people would be.

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  31. Also, a couple people asked about tack - I've done 25s with people in dressage saddles, a/p saddles, jumping saddles, and barrel saddles. By the time you do a 50, you've usually transitioned to some purpose-built endurance saddle, but some people keep rockin' along in their a/p western saddles. Traditional English saddles usually don't have big enough bars to distribute the rider's weight for 50 miles, but they're FINE for LDs.

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  32. Even though dressage is my passion, I am a big proponent of cross training and especially of trail riding. It's good for the horses brain and their feet and it gets us out of the arena which can get boring, even for a dressage nut. We were going to competitive trail rides pretty regularly but we've gotten burned out. Too many people, too many obstacles that have no basis in reality; too much hurry up and wait; too much money. We usually ride for 2-3 hours and that's about my limit. I get uncomfortable and start dreaming about the end. 15 miles is definitely do-able. We did a 25 mile endurance ride once (not on our horses, on competitive endurance horses) and it about killed us -- 25 miles at trot. Any who, if there was a 15 mile ride close by we would try it.

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  33. I'd totally do a 15 miler, but I have no idea how to go about it. Does my horse need elytes? What should I feed? Should I boot/shoe? How far IS 15 miles anyway? I don't know of any groups around here that would help me get started, and I've looked. Besides, I don't think I have anything to wear. ;)

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  34. I've never been a competitor, have plenty of trails at the barn that I haven't even begun to fully explore, and really don't want the worry of camping with my horse. I worry about him enough in his field. I also enjoy riding at the speed of "putter", so I would be completing my 50 in a few days.

    I just don't think I'm the type. If I HAD to compete in something that would probably be it, but.... I don't feel the need to compete.

    *shrug*

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  35. Funder--Well, you already know my take on it, but you did ask for response, so...I'm not interested in big group rides of any kind. My limited experience of such things has not impressed me. I like pleasant two to three hour trail rides, solo, or in the company of a couple or so good friends. I don't give a s-- about competition of any kind any more. I have nothing to prove and don't enjoy being around the occasional, inevitable ass--- who really needs/wants to win--at almost any cost. I think you endurance folks sound like a GREAT group--with nicer people than a lot--maybe most--competitive horse sports. But I'd still rather camp with my horses at a quiet spot sans other people than at busy "ridecamp". I know, I'm a curmudgeon. I believe you that our QH ex-team roping horses could do this, but other than I'd like to meet you and Aarene and some others, there is not much motivation for me to try it.

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  36. Oh dear. Having read the rest of the comments, I now apologize for being the ONE cranky dissenting voice. But you did ask for a response. I'm just not a group person. I have covered 30 miles on a horse in my past--it did make me sore. Maybe that's part of my reluctance as well.

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  37. I'd do shorter rides simply because, with a pretty messed up lower back and a damaged hip after something like twenty thousand trail miles, long rides don't work well. I don't mind that parts of my body hurt, however I'm not all that supple when I hurt and that's bad for my horse.

    It's interesting what Cheyenne has to say about Scotland. In England my experience of endurance rides is that they are quite fast and that the arrogance of the organisers can deter new entrants. Navigation skills seem to be poor hence aggressive route marking - and still they get lost. Sponsorship by rich Arab nationals had left the sport more competitive and less friendly.

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  38. I'd probably like to start with a 15, but would happily do a 25. However, I don't own a trailer and no one at my barn does any endurance or competitive trail riding. Maybe if there was a ride-share forum. Forget dressage saddle vs. endurance saddle, if you don't have a trailer, you can't really participate in this sport.

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  39. I had more than just a bit to say on this, so posted my entire thoughts here:
    http://dreammakker.blogspot.com/2012/04/aerc-intro-rides-tale-of-three-newbies.html

    Should Ride Managers offer intro rides? YES, if they would like to.
    Should Intro Rides be an official part of AERC? NO

    Full discussion as to why I feel that way posted at link above.

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  40. I'm a little late to the party but would like to put my vote in for a YES for mini-durance. I'm working towards doing a 25 LD either in September or October. Part of the problem is the distance to travel and learning to camp with your horse. I can do alot of stuff here at home but out on the trail or in unfamiliar places, my horse gets nervous still. Being able to go to a ridecamp and experience it all and also do a short 15 miler would be great for newbies. Or for people who have a new horse they want to give a try at endurance with. I also am not looking at doing 100's but hope to eventually compete in 50's. I know the 25LD's are supposed to be an easy way to get into endurance, but the 15's would allow me to attend way more rides. Most of my training is alone or with one other horse. I'm guessing ridecamp and ride starts are going to be terrifying for my poor gelding. I want to compete in endurance with my horse. I enjoy spending time alone and with others with my horse. Starting out at 15's and going up to 25's then 50's would make it much simpler for some riders like me.

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  41. Late to the party again- oh well. I just wanted to add that I spent my youth riding CTR 25 milers and I'd gladly do it again. I really enjoyed spending the time with my horse and looking to see what would be around the next bend.

    I get the feeling that more people would be willing to ride in the under-50s than the 50s or over because the distance is so much easier. Just think of how much more money they could make for less work. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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  42. I've only ever done a 12 mile Fun Ride, and we always head out after the main group so we're mostly alone. I do like knowing there are plenty of experienced people around if something we wrong and I'd like to try camping. I'd also like to try a 25 miler but I'm worried about conditioning and if I have the time to do so. I don't think you're that far from me, Funder? Do you ever ride the Camp Far West ride over Labor Day weekend in Sheridan, CA? Maybe I'll consider doing that as my first time. I usually go anyway and we're getting in shape for cross country jumping so it seems like good timing.

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