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Re: [RC] Points of View - Tamara Woodcock

As one of those oh-so-irresponsible beginners, I'm just going to have to step in here with my own point of view.
 
Don't hold my hand, don't baby me.  Let me make a mistake, it's probably the only way I'll learn.  You can hope that I won't make a bad enough mistake to cost me my horse, you can wince at my not doing things the way you would do them, you can come up to me after the ride with tactful suggestions.  Heck, you can even come up to me *before* the ride with tactful suggestions.  Just don't assume I'm a complete idiot who hasn't done my homework and saddle me with useless rules to make yourself feel good about "taking care of those idiot rookies"  Don't saddle the responsible riders with burdens meant to hold back the irresponsible riders. 
 
I have 50 miles of LD.  That definitely puts me your rookie catagory.  While I consider myself a more than adequate horsewoman, with a good seat, and fairly knowledgeable eye, I am new to endurance as a sport.  I have 25 miles done 5 years ago on a horse that died 7 months after his one and only ride from a condition having nothing to do with endurance, and 25 miles done a year ago on a horse I realized at his first ride would never make an endurance horse and sold to a dressage rider.  After the LD on the first horse, I decided that 50's were next, and was planning on spending a year training *privately* for this 50.  We didn't need any more LD's.  With the 2nd horse, the one LD was enough to realize no amount of training in the world was going to fix his mind.  My newest horse is 4, and has 25 miles of LD (and a 4 hour completion) and not with me as a rider.  I've raised her for 2 years, she was bred for endurance and raised for endurance.  I'm planning her second LD now, and her first with me as the rider.  I was asked just today how fast I'm going to go.  I said "I dunno.  Depends."
 
Depends on what?  Well, how she feels that morning.  How I feel that morning.  If it rains.  If it gets hot.  If it gets cold.  If I get tired of posting and decide to walk more.  If I find a good stretch and canter some.  Just plain long lots of If's and "It just depends".  If her little 100 mile trot says we finish in 3 hours, fine.  If we squeek in at 5 hours and 55 minutes, that's fine too.  CTR type minimum speeds are not going to dictate my ride plan.  I'm a big girl, and I take full responsibility for taking care of my baby girl.  Everyone knows I'm a rookie.  I don't need a ribbon in her tail to tell me to slow down.  If I wanted minimum times, I'd ride CTR.  I've ridden drag/safety on CTR and found the minimum times not conducive at all to proper pace maintenance on the part of the riders I was following behind.
 
I'd hate for someone to have asked me today how fast I was planning on going and had to have said, "Well my girl has had plenty of distance over tougher trails.  This ride is flat and easy, but since I'm a rookie, even though my girl could easily finish in perfect form in 3 hours, I'll have to walk lots to make sure I don't come in until after 4 hours.  That's the minimum you see."
 
Every horse sport has "yahoos".  Every horse sport has riders and horses that have not trained adequately for the level competition they seek to master on any given day.  In dressage, no one says you can't ask your 4yo to do passage and piaffe in front of Hilda Gurney.  You'd be stupid, make a fool of yourself, and probably have ruined the horse in training for such a feat, but no one says you can't try.  No one says you can't throw your just-saved-from-the-knackers horse at a GP caliber show jumping course.  He'd probably hit the first jump, sending you over his ears to wind up in a wheel chair, but it's your horse.  No one says you can't take your 2yo and run a 14 second can chase.  You'd probably destroy his legs in training, and definitely destroy his mind, but if you want just that one win, you can go for it.
 
It's the rider's responsibility.  I'm the rider.  Ergo, it's *my* responsibility.  If I had trained and conditioned enough to "race" a horse in on an 50, let me.  You never know, I might actually know what I'm talking about.
 
 
-Tamara