Thursday, January 01, 1998

Endurance Riders - They are the Best - Lynette Helgeson

Hi everyone,

I have been on this list for better then 2 years and I have been very humbled by endurance riders. Most of the time I lurk and don`t say too much, because I am so humble by the knowledge of endurance people, I do not feel that I could contribute much. But I have to say that I am totally impressed with people who ride endurance. They are true horse people.

I have ridden two rides, a 13 mile competitive ride and I just completed a 25 mile LD. I have physical limitations in mind as well as body and have been leery but very willing to keep trying and learn this sport called endurance. I had the privilege of volunteering at the pre-ride in Canada for the Pan Am games this last July and at first I thought that 50 and 100 milers were unfriendly and looked down on lowly beginners in the sport. But then after spending the day with some of the most dedicated people in the sport I now understand why I felt that way and why I was so wrong.

Endurance riders during a ride are TOTALLY concentrated on their horses and their well being. They are so focused on their horses and how they are doing that they have a hard time with chitchat when they are trying to concentrate on how their horse is doing and how their own bodies are doing and how the ride is going.

I am SO impressed with endurance riders. Not only do they have the dedication to train through all kinds of adverse weather and conditions in order to get in condition but they also have to take the time to learn everything possible about the metabolic system and workings of their horse. For example, I was lucky enough to work with the treatment vet at the Pan Am ride and every horse that was treated that day were horses that had PASSED the vet check, but the rider of the horse PULLED the horse because they felt that something was off with the horse. And sure enough a short time later the horse was in trouble.

THESE ARE HORSES THAT HAD PASSED THE VET CHECK AND WOULD HAVE BEEN BACK ON THE RIDE IF THE RIDER HAD NOT PULLED THE HORSE THEMSELVES!!!!! And the horse ended up being in what could have been a life threatening condition but the condition was very treatable because it was caught by the rider and treated right away! I am not saying that the vets there were not good vets, they were wonderful, but a rider knows their horses better then any one and they will know before a vet that something is wrong. And they care more about their horse then any ride, even a qualifying ride such as the Pan Am.

In order to do a ride such as a 50 or 100 milers, you need to have more then just a horse in good shape, you have to have a vast understanding of the particular horse, the metabolic system and how it works, nutrition and how that pertains to a working animal, how the ligaments and bones work, the working of the legs, shoulders, etc. Do I need to go on? The effects of different weather on the horses, etc., etc., etc. I do not know of any other discipline that requires so much vast knowledge plus discipline in order to win.

My point is I understand the bridge between the LD riders and endurance riders. In order to go from LD to endurance is no small step. 25 miles can be done without all of the vast knowledge that is required to do even a 50 mile ride. Like someone said just about any horse can be pulled out of the pasture and do a 25, but that same horses could not do a 50. It takes more time and knowledge to do a 50, 75 or 100. BUT not everyone has the time or desire to do the endurance ride but they do have the time to compete in the 25 or competitive. Isn`t it great that we have an organization that everyone can be a part of and enjoy?

So please lets respect and enjoy each other. Because most anyone who does endurance, LD, or competitive is more of a horse person and know more then most trail riders that I know. I just did the LD at the 7E Barnburner in the rain, cold and wind and there was not even one fair weather trail rider there, just us crazy, insane, horse loving, and competitive distance riders!

I have been on many of trail ride where at the end of the ride the horses were left tied to the trailer with saddle left on, no water, no feed, while the rider goes to get something to eat and drink and rest in the shade. And even later as the horses are finally taken care of, they are left with minimal care and sweat and dirt still on their backs only to have a saddle thrown on their backs and ridden hard the next day. No a very common sight on an endurance ride.

So people involved in the sport of endurance, no matter what the level, whether it is LD, competitive, or endurance are (in my opinion) the tops in the horse industry.

Lynette Helgeson
In ND were there are not enough endurance rides and need to be more.

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