Notes from a Rookie blog
Posted on July 1, 2012 by admin
As an endurance rider, you know that the criteria for the successful completion of a ride is having your horse pronounced “Fit to Continue” at the end of the ride. But before you ever begin a ride, especially one like Mountain Mettle, this critical question must first be answered: Are you and your horse fit to compete?
Some rides are easier than others, and there are a number of well-known rides that demand a “yes” answer to this critical question…..Tevis, Old Dominion, Death Valley, and Yellowhammer are a few that come to my mind. So before you attempt the Mountain Mettle Endurance ride, you’re better off knowing from the start that this gorgeous mountain ride is a “black diamond” run demanding the ultimate in fitness of both horse and rider.
Elevation climbs, technical trail, rocky descents and occasional triple digit heat are the hallmarks of this ride—combined with Rocky Mountain forest floors full of aspens, wild flowers, towering mountain views, and the incongruous patchwork quilt of urban Denver spread out below among red rock outcroppings to the east. Vet checks are held out on trail, which is my preference, but something that can also be tricky to deal with in the event of accidents or sick horses and people. Mountain Mettle isconsistently described by experienced endurance riders as “tougher than Tevis.” As such, it’s the perfect conditioning ride to gauge your readiness for a notoriously tough course like Tevis. It’s also the quintessential Front Range Colorado mountain ride, and one that you can say with pride, “We did it!”
I was able to sit down with some of this year’s top competitors to learn some of the things they did—and didn’t do—to successfully complete the ride at the top of the pack. In addition to an already tough course, this year was made more
so by triple digit heat indices on both days and no less than eleven wildfires burning in the presently drought-stricken state of Colorado. The following are some recipes for success that could help you and your horse better prepare for competition in your next endurance race:
The Serious Recreational Endurance Rider
Carla Hays, 1st Place in the 30
Carla Hays and her 8 year old Quarter Horse, Indigo, are an amazing anomaly in the world of Limited Distance endurance riding. Indigo is a handsome grullo Quarter Horse gelding with bull-dog conformation and old style breeding (Hancock line and Smart Little Lena) that gave him plenty of bone and big, strong hooves. His heavy build and Quarter Horse breeding fly in the face of a sport dominated by Arabians with greyhound physiques. When they’re not competing in Limited Distance rides, both Carla and Indigo love chasing cows and working in the arena.
Read more here: