Endurance Riding

Sep 04 2011

So, This is Endurance.

Published by under Endurance Riding

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On Saturday, September 3rd, I rode the Camp Far West 50 Mile Endurance Ride on Asali. It turned out to be the ride where I finally learned what endurance is all about.

The night before the ride, Asali and I rode our pre-ride with our friends, Kathryn and Madison. I rode Asali bareback, in a rope halter, and she felt really good. Other than the rattlesnake we encountered on the trail, which sent all three horses into panic mode, the pre-ride was uneventful and I felt good about the next day.

The start of the 50 mile ride on Saturday, however, was chaotic. Asali tried to bolt and wanted to gallop the entire 20 miles of the first loop. She threw a boot and after I backtracked almost a mile to find it, I discovered it was broken and useless to us (a fellow endurance rider, however, let us borrow his Easy boot temporarily).

Then there was the coyote that spooked Asali and the incredibly stressful ride past the shooting range, where not a single man thought to hold his fire. The trail was dry and dusty, the footing was not good, it was hot, and there was limited shade.

By the time we got to the first vet check, I was in a piss poor mood. I had a bad attitude and I was ready to quit. I walked straight over to my camp, made Asali a mash, got her some water, and decided to relax before making my decision as to what to do. I was seriously considering taking a “rider option” out of the ride.

After 40 minutes I went to vet Asali in. When I handed my rider card to the volunteer helping the vet, it was discovered that I did not present Asali for P & R (pulse and respiration – every horse has 30 minutes to meet the P & R criteria for the ride before vetting). Because I had not proven that Asali actually met the P & R criteria within 30 minutes, there was talk of pulling us from the ride. However, because it was an honest mistake on my part (I was preoccupied coming into the vet check and didn’t see the P & R volunteers waiting to evaluate the horses), ride management decided I could continue on for a completion. However, my hour hold started with the vet’s evaluation of my horse (rather than at P & R time, which should have occurred right when I entered the vet check). So, because of my silly mistake (maybe I should read that AERC rulebook I have), Asali and I lost 40 minutes.

I went back to the trailer, feeling absolutely stupid. I thought about just loading my horse in the trailer and leaving, but after a text message of encouragement from my husband and 12-year-old Madison giving me her “peer pressure” to continue, I decided to take the extra time to relax, get over it, and then just mount and ride on.

On the second loop, Asali moved out really slow. She had burned herself out on that first loop, something I had been afraid of. We were stuck riding on this gravel road that covered us in dirt every time a car went by and again, we were hot and tired. There was no shade and not very much water. When we finally cut off the road to an actual trail, I kept thinking about turning around and riding back to camp. I remember thinking, “How am I going to do the Tevis Cup if I can’t even get through this 50?” I was getting really down on myself, feeling completely discouraged. I do not know why, but a voice in my head just kept telling me to move forward. And at some point, we will have moved forward far enough, that it would make more sense to just keep going rather than to turn around and ride back to camp…

Asali continued to move out really slow. I started to think that we were the very last ones in this ride, the tail end, and that we wouldn’t make cut off time if we kept moving at the pace we were going. I was close to tears when I heard something behind us. I turned to look. It was another horse and rider.

Sarah Teasley and her horse, Red, ended up being our saving grace. Sarah lifted my spirit and was good company for me. We discovered we had a lot in common and our chats about our children, our husbands, and our experiences with horses made the ride a little more enjoyable. And for Asali, Red was a “pick me up.” Asali began to move out just a little faster. She enjoyed the company and the competition.

When we arrived at the second vet check, although I was thirsty, hungry, tired, sore, and hot, I knew we would finish. After riding 42 near-miserable miles, what was another 8? I took some Tylenol for a splitting headache I had that was probably due to dehydration and then mounted back up.

Sarah and I rode the last loop together. We had decided when we found each other that we would finish together. The last loop was long – the longest 8 miles I have ever ridden. And we had to tackle a never-ending uphill climb. However, when we got to the road that would eventually lead us into camp, the horses perked up. Asali took off cantering, with Red close behind. Sarah and I actually passed two riders and continued for the finish.

That last stretch of our ride was amazing. It felt so good to be nearing the end. I was yelling at the top of my lungs and Sarah looked at me and said, “This is what it is all about. You’re out there in the middle of the ride thinking why the heck am I doing this? Then you get to the end and you feel this huge sense of accomplishment.”

We crossed the finish line at 6:11 pm. We had been riding since 7 am.

After I took care of Asali and vetted her in for a completion (she was deemed “fit to continue” and the vet commented at how “bright” she looked), I stuffed some food in my face. Then I walked down to the creek with Madison and threw myself in the cool water with Asali.


Copyright Gore/Baylor Photography


5 responses so far

5 Responses to “So, This is Endurance.”

  1. Carol Baileyon 07 Sep 2011 at 3:02 am

    Glad it all worked out…. LOVE your posts…. someday…, I’ll do a 25 with you! Did Jakob get to ride his first 25 last weekend?

  2. JayaMaeon 08 Sep 2011 at 12:14 am

    Hi Carol,
    Jake will be doing his first 25 on Beauty very soon! Can’t wait until you ride with us! You’re gonna do great with your Arab… the horse made for the sport!

  3. Melissaon 18 Sep 2011 at 4:48 am

    Hello! I am helping a terribly underfunded horse rescue/shelter, Begin Again Farms, in Ellerslie, Ga, raise money. Would you help us out by sharing our link with your readers?
    The horses and I thank you! 🙂
    Melissa recently posted..Begin Again Farms

  4. ActuallyRankon 19 Sep 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Hey babe,

    It’s me, your husbandio. I just wanted to stop by and tell you how proud I am of you and everything that you have accomplished thus far. To know that this is only just the beginning, is quite an exciting thing to think about. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you.

    ActuallyRank recently posted..ActuallyRank™ – Real Links – Real Rankings

  5. Linda Straub Boisaon 30 Sep 2011 at 5:42 pm

    That actually brought a tear to my eye… you have a way with words! You are learning! You will learn so much about yourself and your horse… and even though endurance riding is hard, your story reflects the true meaning of the endurance motto… TO FINISH IS TO WIN! YOU WON!!

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