Endurance Flunkie

In the past, reading success stories about endurance riders got me psyched. Lately, I’m ashamed to admit, reading about the success of others is getting me down! Rosie and I have been struggling. I figure there are other new (and not so new) riders out there not having total success, so I’ll share my misery, and maybe you other flunkies out there can gain some comfort in knowing you are not the only one.

I have attempted 5 rides. Only the first has felt like true success. 1 placement, 1 completion, 3 non-completes, ugh. Often when new riders have issues it’s because they go out too fast – at least I’m not guilty of that, being the turtle every time whether I finished or not! Here is my one-liner history per ride to this point. You can read my ride stories elsewhere in this blog for the gory details on all of them.

2010 June – 35 – SUCCESS. Result:Placed/turtle/6 hours Issues:Stomped by my own crazy horse
2011 May – 50 – STRUGGLE. Result:Completion. Issues: Missed Turn.
2011 Sept – 25 – SLOW. Result: Overtime. Issues: Didn’t ride my own ride. Sore hoof post-ride.
2012 June – 50 – ALMOST. Result: Rider Option Pull @ 40 miles. Issues: Horse sore back, saddle fit
2012 July – 50 – STUPID. Result: Pull. Issues: Missed turn AGAIN, no back boots; found rock.

So to summarize the summary, the first ride was great, and it’s been all downhill from there. I’ve gone from endurance junkie to endurance flunkie. The good news is, my issues are clearly identified and can be worked on. They are:

Problem: Navigation
Evidence: Missed turns 2 times out of 5 rides.
Solution: STOP during ride at questionable points. Watch flags constantly. Review map during ride. Ask questions.

Problem: Sore feet
Evidence: Sore back hooves after 2 rides.
Solution: I have been riding in front boots only. I have now purchased back boots, to be used on all 50s except maybe desert sand.

Problem: Horse Sore Back
Evidence: Vet check found sore back at Dorsey Creek
Solution: Switched to trooper saddle with plenty of gullet width. Tested good to 28 miles so far. Have back checked thoroughly at each vet check.

Since I have had issues at every 50 mile ride, I still, after 3 years of riding, do not know whether I have a 50 mile horse! And now my horse is three years older than she was when we started. If I eliminate the solvable problems will I discover we are left with unsolvable issues? Like age, joint stiffness, or that she just doesn’t like 50s?

If she doesn’t love 50s, all bets are off. She’s the boss. I know she loves LDs and I can deal with that if need be.

Of course I need to get in enough training to rule out the potential “Issue: Not In Shape”. We recently moved to the top of a mountain pass in a neighborhood of rideable roads and nearby trails. This location is not great for winter riding, but once the snow melts, I’ll be in a better position than ever to get in many miles even on work days. There are nothing but hills here, so it will be interesting to see what elevation totals I accumulate this year on my GPS.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

  1. Jonna says:

    I could tell you some war stories of trying to do this sport . You are not a flunkie. If this sport was easy, everyone would do it. I have been chasing this sport for 6 years now, ( think) and been through two horses and still have not done a 50. I also ride ,non traditional breed in the sport and I truly believe it is sometimes harder. You can’t deny the arabs ability. You are lucky to have out the back door access to riding trails. My biggest challenge has been access and time to train since I have to haul to trails. I work full time so it’s not easy to find the hours. I have recently decided to scale back the endurance training this season (maybe only attend one this season and only an LD) with my mare because she does not seem to really want to take care of herself in the drinking eating department. I am taking this season to try some other things and reevaluate. I gree up with TB’s on the east coast and have often thought about getting a TB for endurance but just not sure I want a big horse anymore! I kind of like these shorter stouter breeds like the Morgan and Spanish Barb! Good luck in your spring conditioning! I have enjoyed reading your blog! Not sure why I never found it sooner!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for the comments Jonna! My mare is 17 so there will come a time to look for another horse in the next several years. I really love the TB breed, so I might consider an Anglo Arab. But also looking into other breeds such as the Trakehner. Lots of options! My TB is not real tall by the way – you can find smaller ones.

  2. Kathy says:

    Five rides does not determine whether or not you’re a flunky. Five rides is enough to give you enough stuff to work on… I was lucky enough to have a horse that loved endurance and wasn’t crazy when I started. We did only on LD before we moved on to 50’s. But not until we went through a lot of saddle fit headaches, getting fit up, etc…. Now I know I was lucky with my first horse because my second horse has been consistently voting NOT to be an endurance horse, so with his last check ligament injury it is time to call uncle and find another horse so I can get back on the endurance trail! I miss it.

  3. morgan says:

    Hi! Dont get discouraged! My first 20 rides were ALL LD and I completed maybe half. I went thru a couple horses that just couldnt finish for all kinds of reasons. Then I found a horse that can really DO IT! and we have a 100% 50 mile completion now. You are very thoro in your analysis of yourself, but maybe too much, dont be so hard on yourself.. I use non-Arabs, they are too spooky for me. Others take more conditioning miles, but better temperaments and tougher feet.

  4. Cindy Collins says:

    Please don’t get discouraged. Of course, it would help to have a younger horse, but you are learning so much! Some people are directionally challenged 🙂 I don’t know, but maybe you are one. THe last three years, the Otto rides have been very well marked, but I blew a turn once and it was clearly marked. I was just enjoying my ride and not paying attention. Also, always look for hoof prints…I assume you are not out front. Good luck. Cindy

  5. Jonna says:

    Hi- was catching up on blogs recently and wondered how you and your girl are doing? Is there endurance in your 2014 season? I took all of last year off and might try for one LD this year in Spokane. Hope you are well

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jonna, I haven’t been keeping my blog updated recently! Rosie is doing well right now, we are getting ready for our first ride of the year in 9 weeks, and I think we’ll be better prepared for this ride than any previous one. We did two rides last year, an LD we had to pull from for a sprained ankle (mud) and another LD where we too first (but didn’t get BC, drat). Then Rosie started having a hoof issue (see my centrefit shoe post), she seems to be over it now and is back to booted (well, barefoot since we’ve had non-stop snow). I’m going to have her farrier out before our first ride to make sure there are no subtle issues, and we’ll have to see how she does on our abrasive pasture this summer. Definitely go for an LD!! I will have to check in on your blog too!

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