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Re: [RC] [RC] LDs Are Different - Joe Long

I see that this perennial argument has come up again. I haven't read all of the posts on this, but from the sampling I did read it seems like the same-old same-old all over again.

Here is how I see it.

We have a sport that is a form of distance riding, of which the AERC sanctions certain types of events. The AERC breaks these down into two categories, Limited Distance and Endurance.

There are actually three broad stages of distance vs. the amount of talent, preparation, commitment and pacing required.

We have the LD rides of 25-35 miles that require the least: most horses on pasture that are ridden occasionally can successfully complete an LD ride, and most people who ride occasionally can do the same. The level of talent, preparation, commitment and pacing required is relatively low. Please note that I did not say "all." Some horses that are overweight would need to lost some weight first, for example. But most horses can do it.

We have the endurance rides of 50 miles an up that require more. Most healthy horses can be conditioned to successfully complete a 50 mile ride without a large amount of time and effort, and most healthy people can prepare for and ride them as well. Personally, I'd like to see the definition of an endurance ride be longer than 50 miles, at least 60 miles -- but that's not going to happen.

Then we have the 100 mile rides. Actually, the distance that represents the biggest change in difficulty is about 80 miles, but with our English measurements the 100-mile one-day ride has a lot of tradition going for it. Not all horses or people can succeed at 100-mile rides, no matter how much training and conditioning they have. The level of commitment for the rider is significantly higher. The success rate for those attempting it, even with proper preparation, is significantly lower.

Nevertheless, there is a greater similarity between the 50 mile distance and the 100 mile distance than there is between the 50 mile distance and the 25 mile distance.

Now, there are some people and horses for whom, due to physical limitations or handicaps, 25 miles is the most they can ever do. A 25 mile ride can be more difficult to accomplish for these people or horses than a 100 is for others. That does not make a 25 mile ride the same as a 100, though. We don't define the level of challenge by the limitations of some participants. It does mean that someone with such a handicap can, and should, take pride in what they ARE able to achieve. My first wife had a heart problem and for her to ride 25 miles was not only more difficult and stressful than for most of us to ride 100 miles, she literally risked her life to try it. She did try it, once, and no one was more proud of her than I was when she crossed that 25-mile finish line. But we both knew that it was an LD ride and wouldn't dream of calling it what it wasn't.

In my opinion the AERC has wisely developed two separate categories for these distances, with LD and Endurance. LD miles and Endurance miles simply are not comparable. The bottom line: if you really want to ride endurance rides, ride 50's and up.

Does this make LD riders "second class citizens?" I don't think so. They are just different events. I've been around our rides a long time, in over 25 States, and I've never seen any LD rider treated like a "second-class citizen." I have encountered a few (very few) who make themselves feel that way.

Now let's get back to riding.

-- Joe Long jlong@xxxxxxxxxxxxx


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RE: [RC] [RC] LDs Are Different, heidi