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[RC] LD's - Merlichanderson

This was my wife and I's first year in "endurance" although we understand LD's are not considered endurance.  We are not young people anymore and have only both been riding 10 years.   We have most of our experience on horses on the trail and in the backcountry however, so maybe we had a jump on the sport there.   I have a 5 year old mule and my wife has a TB/QH cross who is 8.  We tried to learn all we could about this sport before we went to the first ride so we did not look totally stupid and understood how a ride actually went.  We joined AERC and got on the ride camp list.  We read every book we could find on the sport.  We rode 5 LD's and would have done 8 had my mule not gotten hurt in an accident outside of the endurance sport.  I don't think I have had so much fun for a long time. The overwhelming majority of folks we met were great and very helpful and encouraging.  From a distance I have observed this is not always the case in horse related sports!  We are already thinking of next season when my mule is healed up and we can go again.

My point here is I have to say something about the LD's.  Without a chance to move into this sport doing LD's, we probably would not have started.  Facing a 50 or 100 mile ride for us was not something we could look forward to with confidence, especially with young and mounts unseasoned in the sport.  Now with a season behind us at least one of us will probably move up to 50's next year.  My wife has a muscle disease that may preclude her doing longer distances but the LD's lets her participate in this great sport.  We were not sure of our mounts nor ourselves so it was less daunting to start at LD's.  Also if you have a job, which certainly seems necessary to support this sport, training time can be at a premium.  We tried to keep going in the winter in arenas and hauled out on weekends when we had time and daylight.  In the spring when we could ride in daylight after work, we rode nearly every night getting ready.  We rode a lot and gave up nearly all of our other hobbies.  When it came time to go to the first ride we were full of anxiety over our preparation.  Of course it was fine and both us and our mounts enjoyed the whole experience.  From then on we were hooked.  One thing the LD's also did for us is let us get a concept of the speed at which endurance rides take place.  Following the statistics it seems that the front runners in this sport ride about the same speed in the LD's as longer rides.  We don't ride at those speeds but we have to say that the riding your favorite mount at some speed through these great trails is part of the attraction in this sport for us and our mounts too.   We found both of them liked the sport, much to our surprise.  The LD's let us try this on a smaller scale. Maybe some would view this a more risky, to us it was less.  Yes we all came home tired but healthy and happy.  If we move up to longer rides now it will be easier on both us and the animals.

I guess my point here is the LD's were a great experience for us and our mounts.  For others this may not be true.  We had no more intention of running our animals to death at 25 or 30 miles than we will have at 50 or 100 miles.  We got to push them and ourselves a little bit and it was great.  And now we have a much better concept of what longer rides would be like.  It seems like this debate between the various distances is pretty pointless.  Good horsemanship and sportsmanship are not measured by distance.  Making more rules would not help either one and it would tend to drive good folks away from the sport.

Thank you for the chance to comment.

Max and Lisa
Sandy Oregon