New to endurance riding!

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New to endurance riding!

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    01-25-2012, 05:32 PM
New to endurance riding!

Hey all! I've decided to take up endurance riding. I just got tired of the show ring when I was younger and have always preferred the trails, but I just discovered endurance riding and think it's incredible! However, I feel like I know nothing about it (compared to how much I know about western showing lol). If anyone can fill me in a little more, I'd really appreciate it! As of right now, I'd like to do some 25-milers this year and possibly work my way up into 50-mile rides. I live in southwest Idaho and probably will not travel more than 2-3 hours for races. I plan to do this as my "sport" rather than a lifestyle, so I'm not so concerned about national or international levels - just what I can do around here.

I've contacted a local endurance club and am going to join and begin going to their meetings and rides in March (they don't have anything sooner). I've also talked to quite a few people during my search for a good endurance horse, including a couple people who breed specifically for endurance horses (I'll be bringing home Snickers, a 15.1 hand 7-yr-old registered Arabian, next week! - I decided my only other horse, a 20-month-old QH, wasn't going to cut it lol, so he'll be my reigning and pleasure horse). And I'm planning on volunteering at some of the earlier rides this year as I'm told that's one of the best ways to learn.

Here are a few nuggets I've picked up so far: you can use any horse that meets the age requirements and is deemed fit by a vet, there are distances from 25 miles and up (though official "endurance" rides are 50+ miles), the AERC and FEI are the governing bodies, it's more about finishing that actually winning for most riders, and basically anything that's written on wikipedia.

Feel free to write anything about endurance riding you think would be helpful and/or important. There are a few things I'm wondering about, especially stuff I should know very soon. For example, how do you train/condition for rides? I was told it's a 2:1 ratio of conditioning to rides in races. I have an arena and round pen where I keep my horses, and will hopefully be able to get my horse out to the nearby foothills (where a few races are held, too) which I know is a must - though if there's anything you suggest doing in the arena when I can't I'd appreciate it.

Also, I'm wondering about tack. I'm told I don't really have to go get any special tack and can just use my western saddle or all-purpose saddle (I don't ride English, but it's a little more padded and may be better anyway for endurance - any recommendations for whether I should use my western or English saddle?). As for pads, do I need to use anything special or can I just use my regular riding pads and blankets? We've used ours for elk hunting and long trail rides, but obviously not endurance rides... I do, however, need a bridle anyway so if I can kill two birds with one stone I'd like to get a bridle that's good for endurance riding.

I know there are clothing requirements. I have my helmet and boots (they're Fat Babies, just want to make sure those are OK because I heard it took a while before 4H-ers around here were allowed to wear them in 4H events). What else do I need?

Finally, I was wondering about milestones and achievements in the endurance world. I've heard people mentioning miles completed (that seems obvious - you just keep track of your completed miles) and points (a little more confusing, but I know at least the club I'm joining awards a point for every mile and then multiplies them by a certain amount if you place in the top 10). Someone also mentioned registry-related and points-related rides, but I can only guess what that's all about...

I'm also new to the Arabian world (and am loving it!), so any information related to riding Arabians for endurance I'd be interested in.

That's what I've got for now. Again, any information is much appreciated! Thanks!
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    01-25-2012, 05:52 PM
My endurance horse, Snickers

Well, he's as good as mine at least - pending vet check on Friday ;)
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    01-25-2012, 06:02 PM
Green Broke
Lots of questions, Id say join AERC, get the magazine, check out their websight and read read read.

After that mount up and ride ride ride.
    01-25-2012, 06:12 PM
Completely off topic, and I apologize, but I would loooooovvvve to see that mane out of the braids! But I agree with the above post, the best way to learn is reading up on it and/or contacting a local (if any) endurance breeder/barn.
    01-25-2012, 06:13 PM
I guess my most important question for now is how to condition my horse (and me!). We're still getting used to one another and I'd really like to start off on the right foot so he'd be ready for the endurance rides. The other stuff I can learn with time - but I'm assuming you can't really rush the getting conditioned part.
    01-25-2012, 06:15 PM
Originally Posted by mystykat    
Completely off topic, and I apologize, but I would loooooovvvve to see that mane out of the braids!
Oh I know!! All their horses are very well kept, braids and blankets included! It'll be so beautiful I may just have to take him in the ring a few times and show him off :P I'm afraid to take it out though because right now EVERYTHING is muddy in our area!
    01-25-2012, 06:39 PM
Green Broke
That was the ride ride ride part. There isnt any magic to it, get on and ride, get a wrist GPS and keep track of your actual distance and speed, go out an a leisurly ride and track you rtime and distance. After that gradually add speed,, then add some distance, then back and forth. Be advised a horse will get in cardio shape really fast but joints and ligaments take awhile. SO just because your horse can do it doesnt mean he should.
"western" saddle can mean anything from a 20lb light weight close contact skirt, to a 50 lb roping saddle. Your saddle should be light and comfortable for you and the horse. Arabs don't take QH saddles. While throwing on a thick pad and putzing around at a walk pretty much any saddle will work if you are going to do any LD's or endurance events a less than perfect saddle and pad combo can really screw things up.

Would you want to walk 20 miles in pointy toe shoes that don't fit ? You could probably be ok at a 2 hour dance. But not a 20 mile hike. Get him a proper saddle that fits him. Doesnt have to be super expensive. Just fit and be comfortable fo rboth. You will also need a good secure bags that wont flop around to carry basic trail needs. I wouldnt wast time on anything but stowaway bags. Reguarless of saddle type choice go with a tucker coolback pad. They run about $80. You can spend a fortune more but you wont have a pad that works any better. If you have natural wool felt pads those would be fine too. Some of the cheaper fake fleece pads slip around. Stick with coolback, or a natural wool pad. NOOOOO tackyto grippy pads.
    01-25-2012, 06:47 PM
Green Broke
I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination...but I am training/conditioning my horse for Limited Distance (25 miles) rides. I started in the summer riding anywhere from 3-8 miles several days a week if possible. Some weeks it was just once. Lots of walking and trotting...walking and trotting.

I bought the book "Go the Distance" and it has loads of information. I do have an modified endurance saddle - it does have a horn...wish it didn't now. I recently bought Biscuit biothane Taylored Tack that is a halter/bridle combo and the bit will detach from the halter so that when he vet checks the bit comes out so he can eat/drink/relax. I went on a 14 mile ride this past Saturday with my training buddy and she is on an Arab with the same tack as me. We LOVED the functionality of it.

We did get our horses hoof boots. They are all barefoot and the hoof boots come in handy for rough rocky areas. We both have Garmins to keep a eye on how fast they are going and for how long and average speed. Also got heart monitors so I can keep an eye on his heart rate.

They say the biggest thing is to NOT over ride your horse. I don't think Biscuit is over rode but we did ride 530 miles last year and have 51 miles for January so far. Going riding this weekend weather permitting.

They say any reasonably fit horse can go 25 miles. We shall see next weekend if I can go 25 miles! Good luck and let us know how you're doing. The new horse looks nice...I am sure his mane is gorgeous out of the braids.
    01-25-2012, 09:33 PM
Green Broke
How is your new Arab bred? My guess would be Polish or Russian with his nice solid bone! Can't wait to hear how you get along with him.

I think one of the best resources for a new-to-endurance rider can be found here. They answer just about every question you asked in your OP. :)

Welcome to a great sport!!
    01-26-2012, 12:42 AM
Originally Posted by phantomhorse13    
How is your new Arab bred? My guess would be Polish or Russian with his nice solid bone! Can't wait to hear how you get along with him.

I think one of the best resources for a new-to-endurance rider can be found here. They answer just about every question you asked in your OP. :)

Welcome to a great sport!!
Thanks, that was an excellent source and you're right - I'm pretty sure it has answered all my questions and more! Snickers is Crabbet/Egyptian bred. I'll have the papers once my check clears (which I will be giving her Friday). He's fairly green at the moment - he had 30 days when he was younger and was trained in way that his and my riding styles click really well, especially coming from a QH background with reigners. From my understanding, he didn't get much riding since then, but has been put back in the riding rotation since the breeder decided to market him. No issues getting on him (a little head shy but they're going to fix that before I take him home) or riding, but it will take a little time for us to get used to one another's movements (first Arabian I've ever ridden and it was definitely NOT a western pleasure ride!).

My plan is for us to get used to one another a little more in the arena and pasture, then start taking him to a nearby riding park to do flat work. There are a few large, scenic, (and I'm expecting spooky for him at least at first) loops that connect, so I'm going to start with one lap at a walk - going for a trail ride, again to get used to and trust one another as well as to track the distance - then picking up the pace and adding loops from there. Once we get that established, I may take him up into the foothills a few times, but since I don't have my own truck and trailer I'm setting my sights on 25-mile rides this year. I'd be happy if I managed to complete 2-3 races since it is just my first year. It'll be fun to try to beat our times on our own, anyway, just in the conditioning rides.

The site wasn't very specific about how far/fast to work your horse in conditioning, just to do it about 3 times a week, so how far do you generally ride for a conditioning session? That way I can know what to work up to without overdoing it. Thanks again!

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