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Re: Why this novice shouldn't have attempted this 50

on 10/9/01 5:32 PM, Howard Bramhall at wrote:

> Taking care of your horse is number one.  Anything else is secondary.  50
> miles or more on a horse is not for everybody, and I will stick to my guns
> concerning recommending to a new rider that their very first ride is a Limited
> Distance one.  

Agreed. Even for an experienced horseperson, there is much to learn just by
hanging around the ridecamp and seeing how the successful 50 milers and 100
milers do things. People can come to this sport from other equine pursuits
and find that they have to "unlearn" what they thought they knew.

> I know there are tons of exceptions, but when it comes to your
> horse, I think to err on the side of caution, by doing the least challenging
> ride, is the answer.  And for some, my wife included, a 25 mile run is not a
> walk in the park.

In my case, I think we needed a ride to kick our butts. Me and my horse have
done less challenging rides (CTRs) terrain wise in worse weather (hot and
humid) and have breezed through in a time that would have easily been a
finishing time for a 25 or 50. This was the next step that we both needed.
Maybe an easy 50 would have accomplished the same thing. Without the
all-night rain, this would have been a moderately difficult 50. The problem
is, in this region, there are no walk-in-the-park 50 mile endurance rides.
If the terrain is relatively flat, it's deep sand (Michigan) and the ride is
held in the heat and humidity.

One bit of newly acquired wisdom I wanted to impart to others who are on the
same road I am on (just getting started) is that the RM's opinion of the
difficulty of the terrain is based on his/her and his/her horse's experience
and attitude. YMMV. This was a completely new trail to all participants. I
don't think I should have even considered doing a one day 50 on a new trail.
That should be left to the "oldbies" who are looking for a new challenge. A
two-day 50 would have been doable for us had it not rained all night on

BTW, all of the 50's completed and they looked great. Something to aspire

> You will not mess up your horse for future 50's by doing one 25.  I can
> guarantee you this won't happen.  Pick your own ride, and hey, if you decide
> you want to try your first one in a 50, by all means, do so.  But don't be
> afraid to pull your horse during that first 50, even if the vet says it's OK
> to continue. 

Heidi made a good point that the rider should be able to feel things that
the vet cannot see. I hadn't considered that when I initially posted that
the vet couldn't see that my horse was off even though I knew she was. (She
was using her right hind more to push us up those slick hills and prefers
her left canter lead; she was slightly off on the left diagonal.)

Note: there were a lot of people in camp who could not believe that I
thought my horse was tired. She's a great CTR horse because she puts on
quite a show in camp. :-)  She's a very demonstrative, expressive girl, but
one who goes from moment to moment. She's doesn't like to let on that she's
tired, but she looked very droopy back at the trailer. She's very forward
and usually my arms and shoulders are tired from trying to keep control.
This time, my legs are tired from legging her on. *I* knew she was
appropriately tired and that nothing more would be accomplished by doing 25
more miles that day or the next.

Lesson two: don't be tempted to listen to what others say they see. Listen
to your inner voice.

> The horse  must always come first; not your ego, and, certainly, not
> completing just so you can get a T-shirt....

Hey, in this area, they give you the T-shirt anyway! I'm a graphic designer,
so I was thinking about getting out my fabric pens and nicely lettering "I
attempted" above the name of the ride. :-)

> ...maybe, even that 50 when the time is right to do so.  You're already on the
> right track.

Thanks Howard. I *WILL* be finishing that 50 and many more after it. I will
just be wiser about my choices and will work on the training issues that I
now know need work.


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