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[RC] [Guest] 100 Milers - Ridecamp Guest

Monica Woodman monica_woodman@xxxxxxxxxxx

For what its worth, I started riding endurance at the end of 1999 and my
goal has been and continues to be 100 milers, with Tevis being my
aspiration.  I haven't made it to a 100 miler yet, but that is what I am
working towards and sure hope all you ride managers and 100 mile riders keep
on keeping on, so those of us who haven't joined your ranks, can still do
so.  You have my utmost respect and admiration and I won't consider myself a
true endurance rider until I can complete 100 milers with a happy and
healthy horse :-)

Naturally it takes quite a bit longer for new riders and/or new horses to
get to the point of being able to try a 100 miler.  But I wholeheartedly
agree that whatever we can do, to at least get back to the highpoint of 100
miler entries is a goal well worth pursuing for AERC and endurance riders in
general.

Though I've ridden all my life and have had one of my horses for 22 years, I
was started off in endurance by chance, being lucky when moving to Los
Angeles, in finding a private boarding barn that was populated with old time
endurance riders that told me story after story about this ride and that.
They spoke of the heart and passion of Red and Becky Hart, of the toughness
of Tevis and what their first 100 milers were like, even ride and ties they
had done.  They had many stories to share and I've heard many of them time
and again, but they don't lose their magic and appeal.  I was riding my 7
year old gelding at the time, we'd been riding the trails for a couple of
years and had built up our foundation without realizing that was what we
were doing.  With their encouragement, we went straight into 50's and after
about a year of 50's we were looking to take on Tevis in 2001 when I lost
him in an accident on the trail.  Devastating to say the least as all who
have lost a loved one knows all to well.  I'd raised him since he was 2
weeks old and it has been a hard rode getting back in the saddle and trying
again.

I've been blessed to find a new partner of like minded nature and he'll be
turning 6 this year.  After a year and a half together, it is very hard to
take it slow and bring him along slow and strong when we both want to go for
it and he's so talented it takes my breath away.

I can't tell you how often I think of doing Tevis and the Swanton Pacific
both rides being in my state.  Both rides stick out in my mind and I'm sure
once I've managed them I'll be thinking of doing others.  I love seeing our
country on horseback and would love nothing more than to be able to do so
all the time, but the reality is I can work one horse and we have to take
our time so that when we finally are doing 100's we can do them year after
year after year.

It is a long rode to the first 100 miler and there aren't any short cuts.
But we'll get there and I am really looking forward to it.  Like all riders
putting in their time, I see many on the trail and at races, we're all
learning and making our mistakes.  I am surprised of the number of people
doing LD and staying with it, from the few I've talked to, it seems to be
for a variety of reasons, mostly either the horse or rider isn't capable of
moving on to 50's.

I don't know why we took the rule out and allow riders to compete over and
over again in LD.  To me it fosters short term riding goals that cannot
sustain the demands of 50's let alone 100 milers.  On a philosophical level,
I think our society as a whole has gotten far to short sighted in our goal
setting and willingness to pay our dues, put in our time to earn something.
People want an immediate result, they want to race now, time is short etc.
I'm generalizing here, there are always tons of exceptions but as a whole,
the willingness to do your homework and put in your time for both yourself
and your horse, seems to be qualities in short supply.   There aren't any
short cuts to preparing a horse for a 100 miler.  I love reading the posts
of those of you that do and follow and piece together what I can glean from
our AERC results, looking to see what the 100 milers did to bring their
horses along, really admiring those few 100 milers like Bev Gray that have
100% completion rates on their horses even at the FEI levels.  That's what
endurance is all about to me, going for the completion, keeping your horse
happy and healthy and then seeing how competitive one can be in each race
etc.

I whole heartedly support the need to give incentives to riders to encourage
them to pursue 100 milers and 50 miler multi days as in my opinion, these
goals foster the values of endurance riding, they require horsemanship and
that the rider does their homework and build their horses foundation.  In
doing so, the bonding and knowledge of your horse and its well being emerge
as what is most important.

I question the value of providing incentives to LD riders and/or allowing
unlimited LDs for the same horse.  I don't mean to take away from anyone's
fun, but there are lots of ways to do rides, such as CTR for those of you
who don't have the horse or your own body doesn't want to go further.  Yes,
you don't have racing in CTRs, but you get pretty much everything else.  I
just don't see any value in racing LDs for the horse that is.  I get the fun
for the rider.  It is always a thrill to go fast and race.  But what does
the horse learn from racing LDs that they can't learn by doing a slow or
easy 50?  Why let our sport morph into short distances and speed?  I'd
personally gladly pay much more to cover the ride costs instead of ride
managers needing to hold LDs to make ends meet.  There's got to be more ways
to teach new riders to go the distance without diverting to short term
interests and gains that do little for perpetuating the characteristics and
values of endurance and do much to foster short cuts and risk taking where
our horses bear the brunt of our egos and self centeredness.

I have really rambled on here in hopes to convey that as a new rider to the
sport, 100 milers are important to me and I hope to get there, maybe next
year.  Hopefully there are many others out there like me who are trying to
get there, just haven't quite made it yet and I wish there was a way to
encourage more riders taking up endurance to have the patience and take the
time to build and train their own bodies along with their horses to go the
full distance.

Those of you that do, be you 5 years old and from generations of 100 milers
to those at our highest level demonstrating your horsemanship with your
results, you inspire me and I look forward to joining you in the future!

Monica & Inde



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