My Endurance Journey 2023

Like many others I made a New Year’s Resolution. I guess it could just be considered a goal for this year with a new horse in a new sport. My desire to try the sport of Endurance Riding has been brewing for a couple of decades. Until recently, I never knew where to start.

Last year at my first Saddle Care Workshop, I met my first endurance rider that I was able to talk to. It was a treat and a blessing that has caused us to become friends and for her to become a mentor.

Last weekend was a beautiful summer day in the middle of April when the temps should be closer to 50 than to 80. We were all able to get together at a local trail to learn what are the basics of Endurance Riding.

So what does that mean?

Trust me I was asking the same question. At every endurance race there is a ride meeting that is held before the event starts. Every rider must attend and if you don’t it could be at your own peril. Since there are things that are discussed at those meetings that are not mentioned anywhere else in the ride paperwork.

Vet Checks

There is also vet checks about every 12 to 15 miles on endurance races and competitive trail. During these stops you have to trot or gait out your horse. Depending on the kind of race you are competing in will determine the pattern. For the Limited Distance that I am conditioning for. I practiced trotting Gracie down and back on a loose lead and straight at the person standing in as the vet. This particular thing Gracie and I do pretty well already, although she didn’t trot off like we do at home, she did it easily.

Trail Markings

Finally, trail markings! This is probably the single most important reason you must make sure you attend the ride meeting. Where they tell you how the flags work and which ones are which. Then how they will be placed so you know you’re going the right way or not. VERY IMPORTANT! Apparently there are some that are almost experts at getting lost even when they attend the meetings. Which solidified for me the importance of attending at all costs.

Ready to Ride

After learning how important these first things were, we tacked up and got ready to ride. I have to admit that I have not had that many rides on Gracie since she arrived. Between her feet issues at first, then we were running out of summer and fall. Winter has given her more time to slowly lose the extra weight she has been carrying most of her life. Now we can start out with good feet under us, less weight to condition off and a bright summer ahead!

I was supposed to ride with an experienced endurance rider. Unfortunately there weren’t enough of them there with horses to ride with us. So, my long time riding partner Sandy with her beautiful mare Cricket were our riding partners for the day. Which was probably a good thing because these two girls were HOT. We struggled for a walk the entire time. Then out of frustration I am pretty sure that Gracie humped her back at me at one point.

Which all adds up to a really fun riding day!

I was able to try out the new Stratford saddle that made just for this adventure this summer. The Stratford is for sale, an 18.5″ seat, built on the dressage tree. I have a pair of slim leather with double T-pieces for easy change and adjustment even from the saddle. Then I put a pair of leather covered endurance stirrups that I had on hand. I might change to stirrup irons as I haven’t quite decided if I like these stirrups or not yet.

If you would like to try out a saddle on your horse and you live with in a couple of hours of Stratford, Wisconsin schedule a call with me so we can talk about where and when.