Okay, I have a couple of general questions about endurance...I have searched here and googled as well but haven't really come up with an answer thus far, so I hope you don't mind my asking here!:)
My main question concerns crewing. I am looking into entering a couple of limited distance rides this summer/fall but unfortunately I can't really count on getting any support/help. How many stops/vet checks do you generally encounter in a 25-miler? Would it be feasible for me to go it alone?
Also could someone enlighten me on weight divisions? Is it just a formality? Or do I even have to be concerned with that in LDs?
Thank you in advance for your help!
The number one thing you need to do is volunteer at a ride and take in as much as you can. This will teach you more than riding in any ride or many rides. Even an experienced rider learns things volunteering in different aspects.
You don't need a crew for most rides. I don't have one, and most people I know don't have one. Some rides are more difficult than others to go without a crew, but I've never felt limited.
Weight divisions are a formality. Dn't worry about it,
You will have a vet-in check the day before the ride. Usually 2 checks during a LD and the final after the ride within a certain amount of time to earn a "completion". I didn't have crews for LDs or 50's but really appreciated the one time I did have crew for a 50. Because he was really impressed with what all us crazies were doing with our beloved horses and I ended up marrying him :-)))) Just be sure to take care of yourself!! so you can take care of your horsey best friend!
Night before: Check in and pay. Vet in. Eat some breakfast. Pack saddle bags. Double check all the tack is where I need it to be. Put my easy boots on loosely and anything that involves (taping, rasping, picking, cleaning, etc). Throw check to make sure horses have plenty of hay for overnight. Prepare my bucket of beet pulp and nutrients to soak overnight. Bring keep water buckets full - make sure they're full before bed.
Middle of the night: hear funny noise; check on horses; go back to bed. Hear hoof beats; check on horses; go back to bed. Get up to pee; check on horses; throw more hay; go back to bed. Hear LOTS of hoof beats, snorts, and voices; check on horses; catch random unknown horse and friends; return to owner; check on horses again and fix buckets that have been knocked over; go back to bed.
Ride day: Alarm goes off about 2 hours before the ride; lay there and feel guilty that I don't want to get up because the horses need their breakfast; get up and give them their beet pulp and throw another flake of hay; prepare second bucket of beet pulp to soak in the trailer; go back to bed. Alarm goes off an hour before the ride begins; get up and get dressed, start tacking up, check hoof boots and tighten them, get on 15 minutes prior to ride intending to warm up, realize I forgot something, go back and get it, get back on, check time, realize the ride is starting and I'm at the trailer, trot up the the starting line and check out, and off we go!
Holds: Get off and loosen up tack, lead in at a walk, pulse down, sponge, vet check, ask vet anything I am curious about (if he's not busy), tie up at trailer, make sure water buckets are full, bring out the beet pulp, throw hay, check horse to make sure he's ok and there's nothing I need to worry about, check easy boots, usually leave tack on (unless there is a reason it needs to be pulled), throw on blanket over saddle if it's chilly/wet. Finally get to sit down, eat a granola bar or something light, refill water, drink all the water, refill it again, pack the saddle bag. Go back in trailer/tent, sit/lay down, remember to remove my helmet, realize I only have about 15 minutes of my hold left, drag self up after 5 minutes, unblanket horse and tighten cinch, double check all gear, get on, go to the hold area, wait a minute or two, then start again.
End of race: About the same as at the hold, except I pull tack and have to do all the grooming for BC showing, including washing, brushing, combing and trying to get my horse to look amazing even though I'm a scrub. It takes the whole time to get them ready in time, especially since you're going to want to sponge down EVERYTHING since they should look clean, and then have enough time to hopefully dry out. Then, I finally get to tie my horse back up with all his munchies and SLEEP until dinner.
If it's an out vet check, you have to adjust all of these things in order to stick your "hold" bag in the trailer, including packing a bale of hay, all supplies and snacks you'll want at mid-ride, and soaked beet pulp poses a special problem, but can usually be solved with a bucket with a tight lid since you don't want it spilling on the trailer when they take it wherever it needs to be. When you get to the vet check, the bags will be spread out and you'll need to locate yours and possibly regroup your things if you had more than one bag/bucket that got separated. I haven't even mentioned electrolytes for humans or horses because I haven't started using them yet.
This is a typical 25 for me. I have done one 50, and that was about the same, just longer :D And so you need more supplies. You can see how an extra set of hands or two would help with all of that and take a lot of the work out, but I really don't mind it. It's kinda fun being "you and your horse against the world" and it gives a whole new meaning to the word "endurance".
You'll typically have 1 vet check in an LD, usually about halfway. However, I did have one or two where we went almost 20 miles, maybe more, and so the last "loop" felt like a quick jog - it was maybe 5 or 6 miles? They shouldn't be that lopsided, but it's not unheard of!
As far as weight divisions, the one you declare for AERC may have some sort of grouping effect, but your weight at rides only matters if you're doing BC. In which case, you weigh yourself at the ride with all of your tack (make sure those water bottles are FULL!!) and they base the score off of that weight, not what you declared. The heavier you are, the better it counts. I've seen where the only difference in the BC award was the fact that the winner weighed 230 with all her tack, whereas the girl who got first place was a junior riding bareback and in a halter, so she came in at 85 lbs haha. She didn't stand a chance! Generally, as a featherweight, I don't either no matter how I place. Oh well - it's always a good idea to show for it if you come in top 10! I've learned a lot about the process, my horse, and how we've truly done on a ride by going back for BC. Usually, the vet can be quite a bit more descriptive in what he sees in your horse and how your horse is doing when you go back since he's not swamped with horses coming in from the ride.
On another note, I only take one horse to rides so I'm with him (or we're both in camp) at all times. If I had a second horse, I would absolutely feel more comfortable and more able to focus on the task at hand if I knew there was someone at camp to keep an eye on my horse. Maybe as they (and I) become more experienced, that'll change. However, I've had to rescue more than one horse when it's owner was in the middle of a ride on another one. Be kind at rides, because we all appreciate when someone else is looking out for us as well, especially when we don't have an assigned crew to take care of things when we're not there.
you dont need crew, especialy for an LD, Ive never seen an LD with more than one hold. Just pic a ride and go, tell the RM your a new rider this is your first LD, they will team you up, ask around for a turtle rider. IE someone that is looking for a completion and will be riding at a slower pace. After the evenign riders meeting there will be a new comers briefing, let you know everything. From the outside it seems confusing but it really isnt that bad. Once you do one you'll be fine. Just get your horse in shape, get out and ride , thats the hard part. Look at AERC calandar I see you are in NC, what ride were you looking to do your first on ? Leatherwood is tough terrain but a good ride, Broxton in SC is easyier terrain and a good ride also. You have alot of rides close to you.
DOnt worry about weight class. just check the block when you register. I have never seen weight class awards or standings.
Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer and spell things out for me - you don't know how much I appreciate it! :D
Currently, I am hoping to volunteer at one of the spring rides (possibly Sand Hills in April and/or at the Biltmore in May) and possibly riding at Blue Ridge in June myself (fingers crossed!)
Crew shouldn't be necessary for an LD assuming your horse has at least half a brain. I think jilly's explanation was a great one in terms of being prepared. You will find 95% of people at rides are wonderful, and if you find you have forgotten something or need a hand, anybody around will be willing to help you if you just ask. I am an expert at the can-u-watch-my-mare-while-I-go-pee question (which is generally the only time I need crew. Dream would likely just stand and eat even if she was unattended, but I have never been brave enough to take that chance!
Weight divisions only matter if/when you start getting competitive with placement. Until then, don't worry about it. Just check the box where your weight with tack falls.
Sandhills or Biltmore would be ok to go work. I wouldnt recommend either as a first ride. Cant speak for Blueridge, last year I think they had away vet checks, which arnt so bad once you have done a few rides, you realize you dont need much. I choose Leatherwood over Blueridge based on the perceived level of professionalism of the ride staff and ride announcement.
Thanks for the info Joe! My main concern about Leatherwood is that I am conditioning him in an area that has few hills and I worry that a ride in the mountains might take too much out of him. I'm hoping that Blue Ridge will be a little easier, not to mention it is slightly closer. :)
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