Friday, December 10, 2010

Impressions from an Endurance Newbie - Jamie Bratt - Full Story and photos

North American Shagya Arabian Society December 2010

December 5 2010

It was a weekend of firsts. My horse’s first competition, my first endurance race, the first year of the “Canter Over the Mountain” ride in West Virginia. I had been training all summer with my Shagya-Arabian.

I had purchased Shagya Skamp AF as an endurance prospect; his sire Janos was a successful 100-mile competitor who had been exported to Japan to train for FEI level competitions. Skamp also inherited excellent conformation and temperament from both sides of his pedigree. He exemplifies the famous Shagya-Arabian combination of brains, bone and buddy-up personality. But, at just five years old and after just a few months of training together, would he live up to the promise in his first competition? And what about me, was I ready to race for 25 miles?

Thankfully, I had read the AERC primer for new endurance riders the year before and heeded much of the good preparation advice. The best thing I did was volunteer at a few endurance races before Skamp arrived at my farm in Maryland. Not only did I come to understand the organized chaos of the ride camp and crewing areas, I also witnessed some great tricks of the trade to emulate and some classic mistakes to avoid. Most importantly, I connected with several experienced endurance riders in my area who quickly became mentors and friends. Though I had been riding for over 20 years, I had so much to learn about the unique challenges of endurance (and I still do)...

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