Endurance Riding

Mar 25 2012

Celebrating 40 Years of AERC (and 10 of Jakob)!

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On Thursday, March 8th, I loaded up my family in the car for a weekend away at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, the exact place where the American Endurance Ride Conference was holding their annual convention. We decided to leave one day early, on Jakob’s 10th birthday, so we could spend the day celebrating. We took the 70 East to Reno, traveling on the Feather River Scenic Byway. It was one of the most picturesque drives we had ever encountered. The boys enjoyed driving through tunnels and over bridges, all the while being right next to the beautiful Feather River. We were also adjacent to some old train tracks, imagining what precious cargo those trains must carry.

endurance ridingendurance riding We made a couple stops on the way to Reno, including one in Quincy, where we had lunch at a cute little diner. After about 4 hours, we arrived in Reno, checked into our hotel, and then the boys were off playing in the hotel’s large arcade.

endurance riding That evening, Gary and I surprised Jakob with a nice birthday dinner at an upscale Italian restaurant located right in the hotel. Dessert was his favorite – carrot cake (with his football nickname, “Dogtown Diesel,” displayed on it)! After dinner, we stopped by the hotel room, where Jakob discovered a few surprise packages – cards, books, birthday money, a new riding helmet, and a new hay bag for his horse, Beauty. Then we were off to the bowling alley, where the four of us competed against each other – Jakob, Declan, and I all lost to Dad.

endurance ridingendurance riding On Friday morning, I was up early in order to attend a series of seminars at the AERC Convention. Gary and the boys stayed occupied in the arcade and also went to see a movie (War Horse) at the theatre located in the hotel.

The first seminar I attended was a panel discussion titled “Enduring Wisdom from Enduring Veterans.” It included a question and answer session by John Crandell III (winner of the Old Dominion, the Tevis Cup, and the AERC National Championship all in the same year), Valerie Kanavy (two-time FEI World Champion, two-time AERC National Champion, and FEI Silver Medalist at the 2011 PanAms), Dr. Arthur King (AERC and FEI veterinarian), Kathie Perry (earned 21 Tevis buckles, AERC Hall of Famer, and co-founder of AERC), and Christoph Schork (over 230 endurance wins, including 85 best conditions, winner of the Quilty Gold Cup, and part of the U.S. Team to Worlds). Here is some valuable advice I gathered from the veteran endurance riders:

John: Goals are important. We should all be there to do a little better than we did before. We should challenge ourselves. BUT, don’t get unrealistic about your goal – LISTEN to your horse. Sometimes our horses are telling us something but we’re so focused on our goal, we miss what our horse is telling us.

Christoph (on preparing for a 100-miler): Ride and train with groups. Do a pioneer ride – two or three 50-milers in a row. Check the horse after each day. Three successful rides in a pioneer/multi-day event equates to a better chance of finishing the Tevis Cup.

Valerie: There is no perfect horse, every horse has strengths and weaknesses – take up the strengths and shore up the weaknesses – YOURS too!

Dr. King: PACE yourself. Don’t focus on the rider ahead or behind. Focus on the trail – it’s the trail that will beat you!

Kathie: Train on the horse you are going to compete on. Ride and train your own horse. RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE. You know your own horse, but only if you trained him!

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From left to right: John Crandell III, Christoph Schork, Valerie Kanavy, Dr. Arthur King, and Kathie Perry

Following the panel discussion, I attended a seminar by Dr. Susan Garlinghouse titled “Equine Emergencies on the Trail.” Dr. Garlinghouse said there are a few essential items you should always carry with you when riding on the trail: a stethoscope, watch,  thermometer, sponge or scoop, collapsible bucket or other water carrying device for your horse, a leatherman tool with pliers, vetrap, and something you can make a pressure bandage out of (terry cloth hand towel, clean tube socks).  Dr. Garlinghouse discussed many common emergencies, including colic, heat stress, muscle disorders (“tying up”), esophageal obstruction (choke, which is not the same thing as choke in humans; it usually resolves on its own and is not typically a life threatening emergency), eye injuries, and lacerations and bleeding wounds. The take home message: If you think your horse needs a vet, get a vet!

I also had the pleasure of attending a seminar on Endurance Horse Nutrition, presented by Dr. Pagan of Kentucky Equine Research. He described how energy is the nutritional factor most affected by exercise. The digestible energy requirements of performance horses cannot be met by forage alone. I learned that feeding fat to endurance horses is good. The idea is to train the horse to use fat for energy during competition. Fat can be fed by adding canola oil, flax seed oil, or soy oil to the horse’s diet. Feeding beet pulp and bran is also good because it doesn’t produce as high a peak in insulin. Grain is good, but in moderation. Grain intake should be limited to less than 5 pounds a meal. In addition, it was suggested that grain not be fed right before an endurance ride because it can cause glucose to be too high at the start of a ride. Lastly, alfalfa is a good choice of hay to feed during endurance rides (it should be fed sparingly when not competing). Alfalfa has protein (which is typically reserved for foals and broodmares due to its contribution to growth), but good fiber, and high water holding capacity.

After the seminars, I had the pleasure of attending the trade show with my family. Jakob and I spent all our birthday money – he got a new bridle and breast collar, as well as a sponge and a pair of sunglasses. I bought myself a pair of riding tights by Evelyn at Just for Horsin-Round. I also got a pair of ice boots for Asali. Then Jakob and I decided to head over to Sharma Lynn Gaponoff’s booth to check out her new book, Tevis: From the Back of My Horse. Sharma graciously signed a copy of her book for us.

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On Saturday morning, we packed our things and checked out of the Grand Sierra, but before we left Reno, Gary and I took the boys to the famous automobile museum in town.

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Celebrating 40 Years of AERC (and 10 of Jakob)!”

  1. Sharon Auntieon 30 Mar 2012 at 8:38 am

    Always a great story you tell, you lead a wonderful life, one that most envy! Continue your path with all the gusto you can give, your children will follow!

  2. Ann Byrnson 31 Mar 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Looks like everyone had fun and that you learned a lot from the seminar, too! Great photos.

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