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Your post was very funny and informative as well. My first ride I rode with a sponsor, if you could call him that. I called him lots of names after the ride, but sponsor wasn't one of them.  I should have known what I was in for when my truck broke down and he just kept on driving. When I finally arrived at the ride and saw him, he said "Oh, you made it!" Anyway, I didn't have a clue what the ride was all about. Oh sure, I trained at home with my "mentor" but I don't care what anybody says, ride day is a whole different ballgame. (It is a little like going to the OB/GYN. You know what to expect, you do it every year, but it is still a little nerve racking.) It is very hard to describe this sport even to horse people. The atmosphere that morning was explosive, horses rearing, people yelling and my mentor just telling me to hang with him, I would be alright. The only thing I remember for the 1st 16 miles was running through very deep water. I was riding my Morgan at the time who is about 15 hands. The water came up to his chest but my mentor and the other rider we were with were on smaller horses and I saw them go down. That was a little scary. When I came to the vet check, we pulsed down ok but his CRI was a little high. The vet said I had to walk the last loop or be pulled. We walked and still came in 11th place. That was almost 8 years ago.I have ridden with my "mentor" many times since then and even beat him a time or two. He is my buddy but we have different philosophies on training and racing. We both do well, but we do it differently. So even if you do pick someone you know, who don't really know that person until race day comes around. Then you could be SOL. I agree with you Angie. Go solo. But here is another thought. I have been taking my daughter with me for about 4 years now. Since our horses are a family and train together and are all pretty much at the same fitness level, that makes it easier for all of us. So maybe, If someone wants to get started, a seasoned rider could let them ride their horse, one that could keep up, have experience at this sport and make it easier for the "newbie".  Or better yet, and I wish I had done this, encourage people wanting to get into this sport to volunteer for a ride or two. They would see it all at the vet checks and if nothing else, learn what not to do. Ride 'em any way you can. Lisa Salas, The odd FARM

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