ridecamp@endurance.net: New Enthusiasts

New Enthusiasts

J Smith (jansmith@teleplex.net)
Fri, 14 Mar 1997 22:16:31 -0500 (EST)

"I suggest that anyone who rides any breed of horse, go to a clinic on
endurance or volunteer to help at an endurance ride before undertaking a
competition. Then you learn the rules and become familiar with the
culture. You also could meet a mentor or two."

Linda VanCeylon brought out a very good point at the end of her
letter about Arab riders with attitudes against new riders who ride gaited
breeds (also, prehaps with an attitude). And that is NOT to say that I
disagree in the slightest with the main portion of her post, I think she's
right on the money there too! But for ANY newcommer (and most any sport, I
would think) I hartily agree that the best way to learn is to volunteer and
help first.

I first became interested in long distance almost 15 years ago
after meeting and trail riding with two distance riders. As well as helping
me train and condition my horse, Linda and Tish suggested I work a few rides
before I began competing. I lived in central NJ at the time and endurance
rides were few and far between, but ECTRA was active with CTRs. I
volunteered and worked at a variety of capasities(sp?) and then crewed for
Linda at the Old Dominion before I entered my first CTR. By the time I
began competing I knew what was expected of myself and my horse, as well as
having met several of the other riders and managment. Thus I was less
nervous and more comfortable with Vet checks, etc. P&R crews didn't have to
come looking for me and I knew what was being checked and when. Volunteer
and work a few rides first is advice I have passed on to every hopeful and
neophite I've met.

But I also speak from personal experience with Arab vs(?) gaited and
the varried preconceived opinions and attitudes. I had started riding with
Linda and Tish in the first place because my Paso Fino mare was too fast for
most of the pleasure trail riders in the trail club I had joined and it had
been suggested that I try "the fast crowd". "They NEVER walk", one club
member commented, "you'll enjoy riding with them!" He hadn't realized how
right he was.
But when I was ready to enter my first 25 mile CTR Linda had to
vouch for me to the ride management because I was riding Paso. It seems
they had "lost" my entry until she got wind of it and spoke on my (or rather
my horse's) behalf. But after riding our novice 25 with Linda and her
seasoned trooper without slowing them up (even she had expected us to a
little), and then taking 6th place in our weight division against excellent
compitition, we earned the right to be considered (relatively) equal.
I've spent most of my distance riding hours in the company of Arab
riders, but that's fine with me. (Two of my best friends ride Arabs.)
Arabians were my first equine love, but I gave up and sold my App/Arab mare
when my arthritus got so bad that an hour was about my saddle limit.
Discovering the smooth Paso gait has allowed me to get back out on the
trails, discover long distance, and enjoy the company of such wonderful
people and critters! And if I ocationally meet a few bigoted riders out
there who don't think gaited horses belong in distance, I'll agree with them
that Arabs are great, but for me Pasos (i.e. gaited) are better!

Jan & Ro (aka Robo Paso)

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