Endurance for the Clueless
Lets see if I can not ramble, lol!
I'm motivated, but still quite new to horseback riding. I'm currently taking lessons twice a week in general Western riding and have been riding continuously for a year. A dream of mine is to be an Endurance rider.
Right now my resources are limited; I am about to lease the awesome little quarter horse I've been riding since I trust him and we've taught each other A LOT. But he's no Arabian. He'll do anything but he doesn't have the speed and probably not the endurance (although he's not conditioned for it yet) to compete seriously.
Within the next three months me and my instructor are going to be working on trail. Walking, jogging, loping, uphills, downhills, etc. And she and I both want me to get to the point I can do this by myself comfortably.
I would LOVE advice for getting into this sport. I recently met a couple who is serious into Endurance riding. I want to accompany them or help them out on a ride but I don't know how to approach them about it. They are nice, but I've only met them once.
Aside from some light reading and watching videos, I'm quite clueless on what it really takes aside from a lot of work. With the horse I'll be riding, I don't plan on going far but I do want to use him to introduce me to the sport and give me a better idea on what it's about before I make a commitment and get my own Endurance horse.
A few questions I have: Are there any good reading materials on Endurance (online or in books)? Does a QH have a chance or is this a sport really dominated by Arabians? When conditioning, how do you know what is too much and what is not enough? Any other comments or advice is greatly appreciated!
Oops... I rambled. Sorry. :?
It's more about the individual horse's suitability for endurance than the breed. I think a Norwegian Fjord ranks up there with the most miles completed. He isn't competing to place at the top though... rather he's of the philosophy "To finish is to win". And the rider is just as much of the equation. It's not a trail ride... many competitive endurance riders spend a lot of the time riding in 2 point, posting or whatever it takes to ease their horse's way of going. It's not necessarily easier for the rider.
If you become comfortable riding western, you will want to try English or dressage. The typical endurance rider doesn't sit in a chair seat like western. More of an English riding position. Also the tack is geared to be light weight. Most western saddles would never fall into that category.
You need a horse that can cool down and pulse down rapidly. The heart rate should drop back to normal faster than the avg horse. Same with the temperature. Arabs as a breed tend to have an advantage in this area... but again it's up to the individual horse. There are a lot of 1/2 bred Arabs competing in the sport as well as other breeds. Mules, gaited breeds, akhal-tekes, morgans and on. You can look up the results from the Tevis to see what breeds have placed well over the years.
Official Ride Results
Yeah, most of those seem to be Arabs!
I did a little English/Dressage for a couple of months so I have a taste of it, but I have done most of my learning in Western.
Depending on what you goals are, you can really do just about anything. As long as it's functional and your horse is healthy and capable, you're fine. I recommend browding around this endurance thread to get an idea of what us endurance riders do. I just posted a thread about volunteering at a ride - the absolute best way to figure this sport out. There were tiny women riding internationally competitive arabs on the 75 as well as a couple that both rode quarter horses in their giant western saddles in the LD (25). As long as you condition you horse correctly, you should be able to finish, which is what it sounds like your goal is at the moment. You should have to make a whole lot of adjustments and changes if your goal is simply to finish. Plus, there are always a few riders competing for 'turtle' (aka last place)! (no kidding - some do not want to give it up and work hard to come in last!)
you may find that if endurance riding is not a good fit for your current lease horse, that you may find Competitive Trail riding to be a good alternative. You ride over a set course on trails and you do obstacles. I have heard it's a blast! you don't need a horse with super high conditioning or stamina. you need a level headed horse who can learn to do all kinds of things .
look into it.
Honestly I dont think you are anywhere near ready for a competitive endurance horse. COmpetitive as in winning. Seems those winning Arabs are bat poo crazy when they are doing anything but flying down a trail. Until you really learn the game focus on a dependable safe healthy easy to control horse.
Focus on finishing rides. You need to get out there on the trail and ride. You need to get out there alone and ride, you cant depend on or be focused on other riders. Endurance is about you and your horse and running your own race. When you ride "with" other people, meet up head out and agree to meet at lunch or back at the parking area but dont feel like you have to be attached at the hip. If so either your horse isnt gettign worked or theirs arnt. Even if you head out with me and I lead you what is your horse doing but following me. He has to be able to get left behind with you and not freak out.
As others have suggested, do look for local rides in your area to go volunteer at. You will learn tons.
As for online resources, I love the Old Dominion's Endurance Primer. Also take a look at AERC's new members section.
maybe there is some appeal to having "disproving the idea that 'winning Arabs are bat poo crazy when they are doing anything but flying down a trail'" in place of my current sig line :D
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