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!