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Sponsers for first time riders

>    As a newbie I am all for requireing first time
> riders to ride with a sponser. However; from my point
> of view, I can see problems with this.

That makes 2 of us.
>    I will be entering endurance, LD's specificaly, as
> a crosstraining tool for my show horses. When I do
> ride my first LD, I very much want a sponser to ride
> with me, explain the rules, show me how to go through
> pulse and vet checks, make helpful suggestions, ect.

Well, as far as the rules go, if you'll glance through them just once
you'll see that they can be summed up with:  Stay on the trail, take care
of your horse, do unto others...  Doesn't really require a study guide. 
Our rides usually ask first timers to stay after the ride meeting to see
if they have questions.  That's a good time to ask for a walk through on
the P&R stuff.  If you're not in a hurry, taking an extra 60 seconds to
watch someone else go through should solve the mystery.

> What I don't want is some one pushing me and making me
> feel like I'm holding them back. How would you
> determine that the sponser is tolerant of the newbie's
> goals and training methods?

This is a problem I see with the mentor program.  I am more than happy to
talk to beginners, write beginners, loan books to beginners, but it would
be a bad idea for me to ride with them. Why?  Because my horse is too
fast.  He would pull them too fast whether I wanted to slow down or not. 
An alternative would be to have the manager point out someone who they
know to be conservative, and have a slow horse. will
drive your horse insane to try to pace next to an inappropriate horse. 
That's why I hate to make deals before the ride.  I highly recommend that
you simply start at your horse's pace, and see who *he* chooses to travel
with.   Also, never assume that just because someone is slow they are not
competitive.  I've spent years in the back of the pack, and believe me,
we know who is approximately our speed, and we want to finish ahead of
our peers.  It may be an 8:30 finish, but if we're ahead of the horse who
finished just ahead of us at the last 2 rides, we won!

  >    I expect my horse to be a joy to ride and under
> control at all times.(I hear some of you snickering
> out there) 

Snicker? Not me! Snorting, guffawing, slapping my thigh, wiping away
tears, calling the family in to read your post maybe, but not snickering!

I use situations that arise to "school" my
> horse. What happens when one of these situations
> happens on the ride and I want to stop and use it for
> a training session? 

Train in fast motion.  You are approaching a stream, three horses in
front of you cross it, yours hesitates, 5 more horses pile up behind him,
behind them 50 yards are 5 more...which ones do you plan to keep from
drinking while you repeatedly cross it?  Whack him. He crosses it not too
gracefully...guess what? There are 20 more stream crossings up ahead to
improve on.

 How will I
> know that my sponser will be tolerant and wait
> patiently for me..maybe even having to give up a
> completion because of it? Thats alot to ask of someone
> kind enough to volunteer as a sponser. 

Too much.  Now, if you pay someone's way it might be O.K. but they've
still blown a weekend.  If I recall when my kids were in Pony Club, the
number one thing that came out of the coach's mouth was "Drive him
forward with your legs!"  Why don't you just practice that one thing
during the LD?

    By the time I actually ride an LD, I will have
> tried to prepare my horse for anything I may encounter
> on the trail.... but we all know nothing compares to
> the actual ride and even the best of trained horses go
> brain dead. I don't want to feel like I have forgo
> what is important to me for the sake of keeping a
> sponser happy.

I think what you'll find is that you are fully capable of getting around
a 25 mile course pacing with this rider and that.  A sponsor for a person
who is this concerned with details would be unneeded...except to point
out to you that you may be over doing it, which I doubt you want to hear.
 That's the problem with the mentor idea.  Those who ask for one may not
need it. Those who really need them to keep from hurting their horses
would never ask for one.

 This way, in my mind, I don't feel
> like I'm imposing on my sponser. In fact, I'm paying
> for my sponsers day so I won't feel guilty if the day
> dosn't go as planned. What are others thoughts on this?

Well, I think sponsoring works well when it's somebody around home that
we recruit.  They train with us, we know what their horse is capable of,
and then we give them advice and guidence.  If I were riding with a horse
I did not know, I'm not sure how much my advice would be worth.  I could
reassure you that your reasonably conditioned horse doesn't *have* to
walk a lot... that their legs are more like jogging on a trampoline and
if your horse is spinning in circles then a better option is to maintain
his trot...but do you want me telling you that or are you determined that
your horse is going to walk while 50 horses ahead of him trot away?  I
can tell you that it doesn't look like your saddle is working but
wouldn't you take it better later from a vet?    I can tell you it's OK
if he has more than ten swallows of water, but if you've been showing
long enough I doubt you'll believe me. 

You seem to know exactly how you want to do your first ride.  You have
access to 
and AERC.  I think you'd be happier solo.  I think the best use of
mentors is at home.  If you can find one to train with, that's 
good...but you'd better ask around and make sure they're the type
competitor you want to ride like.  There are some big names out there who
mentor people, and their idea of an initiation is to scare the crap out
of you. Problem is, unless you're in a very big endurance neighborhood,
you won't have much to choose from.

Lest I sound callous.  I have helped many riders start. But I'm a
realist.  When I helped my neice get started in endurance, my horse
pulsed through before hers at the first ride.  I did not wait on her. 
Was it because I was too competitive? No. I wasn't going for top 10 so it
didn't matter.  I did it for her horse.  My horse's natural trot was
working her horse too hard for the conditioning he had at that time, but
he was keeping up because they were friends.  I wanted to mentor her that
day but it didn't work. However, I felt I had taught her enough at home
to turn her loose.  She ended up having a very good time riding with
someone whose horse was the same speed as hers.


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