Friday, April 20, 2012

ridecamp discussion

There has been an interesting discussion about introductory endurance rides going on at Ridecamp, one that Funder talked about yesterday. She got lots of great feedback. The Ridecamp side: different story (of course, this is all my opinion, take at your own risk). I warily posted, and was reminded why I don't usually contribute: I felt pretty rebuked by some of the contributors. I know it is not me personally they are talking about, but I can't be the only "newbie" to the sport who feels like this (I'm not THAT special!)

I posted that it was daunting to think about all you need to manage at a ride (ridecamp and vet checks and vet cards, etc.) and the actual riding, dealing with an anxious horse, etc. That it is hard to remember when you've been doing something for 30 years what it could be like for a new rider. At least one poster said that they weren't intimidated, another that a 25 is just a walk in the park (paraphrasing), and much more negative than positive.

Is that really the way to encourage people into your sport? I don't think there is anything weird about being nervous about something you've never tried before. That being intimidated by all the rules and laws and knowledge you need to have is wrong. That you're taking this horse, who you work with every day and have a huge bond with, and asking them to do all this work for you, and they could hurt themselves. There are many things to think about, and no, not obsess on them so much you freeze, but to be prepared for.

But in among the naysayers, there are some voices of reason, including a very nice supportive post, that I (and other newbies I'm sure) really appreciate. And go Funder, for supporting the little people! I just hope THOSE are the people I meet next weekend...

intimidated worried newbie (who is still doing it)


  1. I have a lot of reasons why I feel that shorter rides sanctioned by AERC would be a bad idea.

    There are CTR's and hunter paces and ride clinics available that are shorter and are great for encouraging newbies to get their feet wet.

    The fact is that endurance is a demanding sport and making rides shorter than 25 miles will bring in people and horses who SHOULDN'T be doing endurance, in much the same way that getting rid of long format brought in people who shouldn't be eventing... and accidents have been on the rise there.

    Any healthy, sound horse should be able to do 25 miles, and a rider shouldn't push to compete until he/she is also ready to go that distance. Doing so only leads to disaster. I'd rather see people NOT try endurance because they're intimidated by the distance than see horses and riders start to get hurt because AERC changed its sanctioning.

    I think 10-15 mile organized rides to sort of hold newbies' hands would be a good idea, but they should NOT count for AERC. I also feel that there are plenty of trail organizations nation wide that offer those kinds of opportunities.

    Additionally, I have yet to find an endurance rider who isn't willing to be a mentor for a local newbie. I truly feel that mentoring is the best way to get people in to the sport. It's safe and makes it less daunting for the newb. Newbies can ask questions, voice concerns, and gradually build up to longer distances without changing the way a successful organization has been running.

    I like endurance because it takes better care of its horses than other equine sports seem to. I would hate to see that change to boost membership.

    1. My voice was nothing about sanctioning shorter rides, but only offering an intro/mentor ride to walk a newbie through vet checks and camping and feed and vet cards. I don't even care if it wasn't a ride but a clinic of some sort. I have no interst in changing the sport, but offering people the chance to see what it's about before being put into a more competetive environment. (I am volunteering at an upcoming ride too.) Just packing my trailer takes a lot of thought, and driving into camp, not knowing really what to do, it's like a nervous kid showing up at summer camp!

  2. I agree with your feeling about the negativity, Irish Horse. I don't really think the truly shorter rides (like 10 miles) should be sanctioned and I do see Dom's point re: fitness level truly required in endurance and how it might potentially suffer/up the injury rates to horses and riders.

    But, really, the negativity you were talking about!! HOW is that constructive in any way? I haven't posted on it or been rebuked (yet) but regarding mileage, recognition, etc I've read over some of it and heard some of the proud declarations of those who have never had an LD "mar" their record. Uuhhhh, okay. There is so much ego involved there that I hesitate to touch it with a 10 ft pole. But I do know, feel, and have to share that riding 135 LD miles last year on my 14 yr old gelding in his first season of going to rides, and at the end of the year seeing a BIG FAT ZERO next to our mileage kinda sucked!! THat's where my beef lies. I'd like some recognition for the little middle aged sucker who went out and completed LDs like a champ!

    And as for offering intro/mentor ride or clinic FOR THOSE INTERESTED (and for those not, don't worry about it, pretend it doesn't exist if you want), I think it's a great idea! I was involved in writing up a syllabus and trying to organize an Endurance 101 Clinic in this area, but bureaucracy & BS ended it before it got off the ground.

    Ramble complete.

    1. Your clinic idea is exactly the thing I am talking about. And completely true that the endurance fitness level is critical, which is why I was thinking (probably not clear) more or your clinic idea or an intro ride with guide/mentor stopping and explaining along the way. Even how to condition your horse.

      I think your 135 miles is no small thing, and while I know it's not real endurance, it should count somewhere. I may end up staying in LDs, my work schedule makes it hard to train more. I'll have to see. My friends and family think its an accomplishment!

      I think it is the negativity more than anything. Instead of constructively telling this newbie glad you're starting out, soon you'll be able to do 50s, an intro ride for you might be great. How I FEEL about something, likes anxious or intimidated, can't be wrong, so help me out here. The naysayers must have started out confident and knew everything, fine if that works for them.

      I have interns every semester. I encourage them to improve and learn not by telling them what a bad career choice they're making. In the grand scheme, truly a tempest in a teapot. I'm happy riding my horse, and hope to find some more like-minded people. I have gotten great support from the riders I know (endurance and others) and will figure things out, and life will go on. We all do our best, some are just better at helping others along the way. The ones who don't want to hear my worries won't be reading my blog!

  3. I don't think AERC should focus on short rides, but I DO remember how scary it was to do my first (and second and third) LD ride. I remember how out of place I felt. Doing a hunter pace (on a TWH? Are you kidding me?) wouldn't have helped me feel like I belonged in endurance. DOING ENDURANCE helped me feel like I belonged.

    They're right. 25 miles isn't hard. It's all the other stuff that's hard, and THAT'S what we should be easing for the potential new people. 10-15 miles with a quick before-and-after vet check and a t-shirt and a ride dinner... that's not the worst idea I've ever heard.

    If AR doesn't suit you, Irish, try a different ride. I haven't done it, so I have no idea what the people / management are like, but there ARE friendly rides out there.

    1. Out of place and scary are exactly what I'm talking about. A little intro to all the procedues wouldn't hurt anyone, and it might make the newbie rider a bit less nervous, a bit more inclined to try for the "real" thing.

      I think any ride would make me anxious, but at least with AR I know the trail, one less thing to worry about. Once I'm on the trail, it's me and Major, just doing our thing. We'll figure it out. And meet some of the nice people along the way.