I do it:
To exercise both me and my horse
To use my horse in competition
To earn local, regional and/or national awards
To learn more about horses especially when doing hard work
To meet and be with other equestrians
To escape from stress and tension
To see new country
All of the above are reasons for participating in endurance rides that use marked trails, have equine veterinarians to control the equine competitors, have a minimum age for those equines and give awards to all riders whose horses finish in acceptable physical condition.
Depending on where the ride is located, the course can take you along a beach, into the desert, on old dirt roads or game trails in a forest. Terrain can be pine needles, sand, rock, soil, grassy meadow and occasionally the shoulder of a paved road. Since the trail is marked, you can proceed with confidence providing you pay attention. I was busy talking to someone else and we missed a turn on one ride, MY fault not the Ride Manager` markings.
Because the trail is marked, it does not mean there won`t be natural hazards of bogs, badger holes, rocky slopes or deep sand. It does mean that downed wire, a major hazard in the west will be removed or marked as well as other risky footing that requires the rider to slow the pace and pay attention. The race track is made for galloping, the distance trail for all equine gaits.
I believe (hope) many distance riders besides myself, enjoy the challenge of the trail and the chance to see new places. We are also getting a respite from the daily stress of the workplace. An intricate trail that varies is best, then the riders can concentrate on riding their horse well and finishing with not only a sense of accomplishment but also memories of a sparkling river, rocky cliffs, tall timber or views of snow covered peaks. Don`t forget equestrians have a major advantage over mountain bicyclists, those riders must always have their eyes focused on the ground. Our horses are very capable of traveling forward over all types of terrain so we get to see sights and take them home for recollections.
The race track or show arena do not provide the scenery and wildlife that the distance riding route does. Views across the mountains, a herd of elk browsing in a meadow, sun slanting through a forest, a trail through a garden of wildflowers, moose watching from a thicket are all sights I have seen while doing an endurance ride. A ride that repeats loops with nothing to delight the eye or to keep your attention is not only less enjoyable to the rider but also to the equine.
ENDURANCE = PERSEVERANCE = TENACITY = TOLERANCE = FUN
Just something many should consider before going on their next ride.
Morris Endurance enterprises