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Re: just doing it (was Show and Tell and questions for oldbies)

In a message dated Tue, 14 Aug 2001  5:33:28 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Deanna German <> writes:

> I started the questions for oldbies, so I'll reply to this one.
> Is all of the above truly in the best interest of the horse when both are
> novices?

"Novice" covers a lot of territory--from people who are truly novice to riding a horse more than a little bit around an arena to people who have spent years with horses in all sorts of various circumstances and are accomplished horsemen, but who just happen not to have done endurance.  Likewise, novice horses have just as wide a range of life experience.  Furthermore, some horses have a great deal more capability than others.  The whole point of my responding the way I did was that in some circumstances, YES, it is far better for the novice horse to go the distance than it is for him to do something not sufficiently challenging, and have the start of an attitude problem that will require "remedial" longer distances at a later date.  Obviously, the "novice" person who has the background to make such a call is one who has already spent a lot of time with horses in general and the horse in question in particular, and may even have an endurance mentor to help them make the right c!
all.  If you for ANY reason don'
t feel comfortable making such a decision, then the LD is probably the best place for you to start anyway.

> OK, let's start with I don't think my horse could "gallop" 25 miles. But I
> did do 25 miles in a little over 4 hours (ride time not including hold) and
> I did not take the edge off. This was a CTR and the mare won GC. Where am I
> on your scale?

Horse likely could have done 50.  As to your ride time--depends on the terrain.  This would not be an overly fast LD unless the terrain was pretty rugged.  But sounds about right for a CTR.  Regarding the fact that you question whether your horse could gallop 25 miles--well, I already knew mine could fly at an extended trot for that distance, and was too fast for most CTR times before I EVER did an endurance ride--and we started out doing the Virginia City (Nevada All-State) 100.  Took us 17 hours ride time, and we finished 28th out of 92 starters.  I was pretty whipped afterward--horse just seemed like maybe he'd had a longer day than normal, and was absolutely ravenous.  (This was the days before e-lytes, glow sticks, or any of the modern marvels we now have at our disposal.)  Horse was 7 at the time, and continued to compete until age 20, quite competitively, so apparently wasn't much put off by the experience.
> Here's my thing: I'm ONLY concerned about what's best for the horse. 

So am I.  And in my experience, given my particular horses, it has been by far the best for them to start right out doing 50's.

>This is
> a young mare (coming 6YO) trained and conditioned by a rider who has a mere
> few hundred miles of CTR experience. I have never done an endurance ride.

Plenty old enough to be completing 50's--still in the "formative" stage where you don't go try to beat the resident hotshoes.

> Yes, I'd start out after the pack; yes, I'd plan to go slow (10 - 12 hours)

Again, if a horse is really a good prospect, often taking the maximum time is not in the horse's best interests, either.  Ride at the pace that is optimal for the given horse.  For a great many, that pace is somewhere in the range of a 6-8 hour ride time, depending on the terrain.  But to slow a horse WAY down from his optimal pace is often just as stressful as letting him get caught up in the excitement and running too fast.

> yes, I'd spill my guts to the vet at every check. But wouldn't it be better
> to wait until next year or the year after? Then at least she's more
> physically and mentally mature. I'll have done a few two-day 50's or 60's by
> then too.

Depends ENTIRELY on the horse!  And you are the one in the driver's seat--the ONLY one that can make that call.  I took my stallion Abu Ben Surrabu (alias Junior) on a REALLY rugged 60-miler as a 5-year-old.  We left after the pack, but out-recovered the pack at the first vet check, and unbeknownst to us, left in 3rd place.  We were riding pleasantly along alone, and had about 3 others catch up to us, and arrived at the second check with them to find the two leaders still there.  We outrecovered everybody, but waited for the leaders to go out with, because I wanted his first out to be fun and relaxing.  Rode as a group of 5 to the 3rd vet check, where he was the first one down again, by several minutes.  Waited again for the next horse to recover, and went out with him, so that we had a buddy.  We pretty much pulled the buddy along for several miles, and had two of the others come racing by us about 2 miles from the finish.  Junior picked up his ears and thought that looked li!
ke fun, but I said no, let's sta
y with our buddy, which we did.  He didn't know how to race, so we just trotted in behind the buddy, in 4th place, about 7 minutes behind the pair that had blown by us.  Our buddy got BC, but our overall score was only 3 points lower, and we had high vet score--not bad, considering the rider of our buddy horse outweighed me by over 50 lbs.  This horse had been started under saddle the fall of his 3-year-old year, and had a solid year of LSD work as a 4-year-old, as well as some arena work, and some trips to local horse shows to get used to being tied to the trailer and performing in a crowd.  This ride was mid-summer of his 5-year-old year.  This horse had multiple older siblings who were successful endurance horses, as well as his sire and dam.  I could see no earthly good in pursuing a bunch of LD's with a horse like this, and judging by his performance, he was more than ready to do what he was asked to do.  He was turned out for a couple of weeks after the ride, brought bac!
k slowly, and did two more 50's 
the same year, in similar fashion.  His endurance career was ended in his late teens, not by any inability to be ridden, but by blindness unrelated to his riding career.  (He actually completed one 50 after becoming completely blind, and he is still a willing horse under saddle, but it is VERY challenging to be a "seeing-eye rider.")

> I'm weighing the pros and cons. I want to do what's best for my horse. I
> want her to enjoy this sport and I want her to still be capable of doing it
> into her late teens. I tend to be very ambitious and competitve and I want to
> be sure I'm NOT doing this for me. 

Good.  That's what we all should be keeping in mind.  But that's why I shared what I did--what is best for one horse may not be best for another.


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