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Re: Arab vs TWH

I'm reposting a letter I sent last September when everyone was talking about how much money one needs to spend on an endurance horse.  I think it applies to this thread also.  It doesn't really matter what breed of horse or mule you ride in endurance as long as you have fun in the process.  Any breed can be ridden as long as the animal is ridden within its level of condition.  I have a friend who bought a gaited horse to get back into distance riding because she was in a serious automobile accident that injured her knee.  Isn't it wonderful that gaited horses can provide her the comfort necessary to continue riding distance.  Let's move past "my breed is better than your breed" and talk about some really juicy subjects.  Susan? Ti?  are you out there?
I've been reading all of the posts on the money spent on endurance horses
and breeders opinions on what endurance prospects cost and I want to share
how I got started in endurance riding 15 years ago.  I had been showing
hunters for 5 years and was tired of the show ring and paying trainers to
go around and around in circles.  I had heard of endurance riding and even
attended a seminar at UC Davis (CA) on Horse and Rider Endurance Training
in 1979.  (Anyone out there remember this?  It was the first time I had
ever heard of Potato Richardson.)  However like many people I didn't know
how to get started or even how to find out where rides were held.  AERC was
a well kept secret in 1980.  However, I was fortunate to meet an Arab
breeder and endurance rider who encouraged me to ride my Appendix QH and
condition it for a 25 mile ride.  Who was this breeder, none other than the
consumate endurance enthusiast, Jim Bumgardner from Fire Mt Arabians in
Ridgecrest, CA.  Jim is a wonderful ambassador for our sport.  He didn't
try to sell me one of his horses, but encouraged me to go out and see what
my horse could do.  He made endurance riding sound like so much fun!  And
he said I could do it on the horse I had.  Wow!  I rode 3 25's in the
spring and summer and in November I rode my first 50 on my former hunter. 

What appealed to me about endurance riding was the AERC motto of "To finish
is to win".  I could ride my own ride, at the speed I wanted and set my own
goals and still get a small rememberance of the ride.  I knew that speed
and top 10 would probably never be a priority to me.  Many times Jim
Bumgardner has accused me of riding too slow.  Who cares?  I have made
wonderful friends from endurance riding and ridden more than 6,000 miles
over trails that many only dream of.  Tevis, Outlaw Trail, Capital to
Capital to name just a few. 

By the way, after 300 miles on the QH I moved on to a 12 year old 1/2
arab-1/2 QH  and after 2200 miles on her I finally bought a 4 year old in
1990 from 'that breeder' that introduced me to the sport, in addition to
winning a breeding at the AERC Convention to one of Cheri & Jeff Brisco's
stallions.  This resulted in me ending up with a Kozar son (great
bloodlines) in addition to my other horses.  I even bought another Sierra
Fadwah daughter off of this year from all the way up in
Canada.  Thank you Kelli for bringing Torch back to California for me.  Out
of all these horses the most expensive one was the one I bred myself and I
didn't have to pay a stud fee!    And this was because I boarded him until
he was 4 up in the Auburn area at a friends house who had lots of pasture.
This was before my husband and I built our home on 4 acres. 

After all these ramblings, I think my purpose in posting this to is bring
back awareness to all the reasons people ride endurance.  If Jim Bumgardner
had told me that I needed a certain breed or arab pedigree to ride
endurance I probably never would have ridden in my first 25 mile ride.
Endurance riding has something for everyone and there is room for all
breeds of horses & mules and all levels of riding ability and speed.  If
someone wants to ride at Top 10 speeds consistantly then by all means look
at the pedigrees of successful endurances horses and if you want to ride
lots of  miles per year then look at what bloodlines have turned out high
mileage horses.  But if you only want to do a few rides a year and mainly
have fun and great trail friendships then ride whatever you have in your
backyard or whatever you can afford.  Remember though, at what ever level
you ride be sure you are having fun! >>

Happy Trails,
Marci Cunningham
Bakersfield CA

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