Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Endurance?

This time next week we will be finished with the 2013 Foxcatcher Endurance ride.  Start time for both the 25 mile and the 50 mile rides is 7AM on Saturday April 13th.  The 25 mile riders have six hours to complete, so they have to be off the trail by 1PM.  The 50 mile riders have to be off the trail by 7PM - they have 12 hours to complete.  So in exactly one week from me typing, tired riders and happy horses will be resting at ride camp for the night before heading home in the morning, or will be on the trailer heading home after a lovely spring ride.
Hoof Print Images, 2012

We explained last year a bit about WHAT endurance is.  There's also a nice explanation about endurance on  The Old Dominion's website - find it HERE.  So I thought maybe this year we'd talk a little bit about WHY people ride endurance.  Why spend 12 hours riding your horse?
Hoof Print Images, 2012

I'm sure there's myriad of reasons.  Seeing different landscapes, enjoying the trail and the scenery.  Spending so much time riding your horse that you grow to learn all his little nuances.  What makes him tick.  Is he feeling ok?  Eating ok?  Drinking ok?  Peeing and pooping ok?  No lie - this is the endurance rider's checklist:  Is my horse EDPP?  Eating. Drinking.  Peeing.  Pooping.  If all those things are happening, you likely have a healthy horse.  If one of those things is amiss, you may well be calling it a day early.
Hoof Print Images, 2012

There is, of course, the race aspect of endurance.  Some people are in it to win it.  Or at least to come in the Top Ten.  Some are riding simply to complete, simply to finish the job.  The AERC's motto is "To Finish is to Win."

For some, endurance is a family affair.  Junior riders need a sponsor - very often a junior rider will complete a ride with a family member.  It's family bonding.  Making memories with those you love.
Hoof Print Images, 2012

For some the challenge is in how fast you can go while still keeping your horse at its very best.  The riders completing in the Top Ten can compete for the coveted Best Conditioned award.  Horses are judged by the vet on soundness, quality of gait, pulse recovery, impulsion.  Those scores, along with scores for finishing time and weight carried, are converted to BC scores.  The highest score is the Best Conditioned horse winner.

For some, endurance is a good "bang for your buck" equestrian discipline.  For a 25 mile ride, your horse will see a well qualified vet at least three times for a thorough exam, plus have his pule taken at least three times.  You have six hours of competition time.  You get a ride tee shirt, you get free dinner the night before, coffee and snacks for breakfast, and sometimes lunch after you're done.  All for the low low cost of $60.  Can you do that in dressage?  Eventing?  Hunter shows?
Hoof Print Images, 2012

For many, and definitely for me, endurance is appealing because of the PEOPLE.  Never before have I met such friendly, down-to-earth, generous folks.  People who truly care about the welfare of their horse.  People who will yell up to you if you've missed a ribbon (because you were chatting too much to your friend) and tell you that you're off course.  Friendships of a lifetime are made on the trail.  Thinking of our Foxcatcher "team" who put on this ride, I think there are only three of us (out of ten or so key people) who have actually ridden an endurance ride.  The others were roped in at the beginning, but have stayed simply because of the people.  It's such a pleasure to run an endurance ride.  There's such gratitude from the riders when the ride is completed.  There are wonderful people in this sport, and that keeps us all coming back for more.
Hoof Print Images, 2012

Please join us next Saturday for the 2013 Foxcatcher Endurance ride.  We always need volunteers, and we always love spectators who want to learn more about the sport.  See you there!

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