Weekend Update/Results from McDowell Ride

No riding for me this weekend as I have my family members slowly making their way out to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I can’t relax and go ride knowing I have family members who could be waiting on me.

Last weekend was the Lead, Follow, or Get Out of My Way ride at McDowell Regional park where I did the 30 mile LD. This ride was monumental because it was the first ride I did that got me interested in Endurance. About a year ago, I did the 12 mile fun ride and met my good friend Katherine. We did this ride together once again, but in the LD.

When I did Las Cienegas last month, Annabel did not pulse down in time and we did not get a completion. I was more then prepared this time on how to handle her with the heat and I’ve also been working on keeping a pace between 5-6.5 miles per hour.

The preparation and the pacing had paid off and we were able to complete the ride without too much trouble. The vet check was a bit heart-breaking for me though. The vet noticed she had some swelling in her rear right hock. I asked what the possible cause was, and he considered her many years as a show jumper, along with her age that she was just getting older and that I may need to look for a new horse soon. I even tried to convince myself to start looking for a young Arabian (but I’m not really an Arabian person). This wasn’t just one vet’s opinion that broke my heart, it was the result of the last three rides the control vets have noticed soreness on every different leg. For now, I plan on competing her at least one more year and I am putting her on a new supplement that the vet recommended.

Early on in the ride at about mile 8, Annabel had gotten so frustrated with allowing horses to pass us that she turned into a hot mess. I checked my Endomondo and noticed our average page was about 6.9mph, so I decided to stop and let her walk the next 1.5 miles. This helped both Annabel, and Katherine’s hot mare out. It gave them the opportunity to chill out. It’s no fun riding a hot horse with so many miles to go; it really just wears yourself and your horse out. I had been sponging Annabel’s neck at every opportunity to keep her cool. As I came into the vet hold, she pulsed down fairly quickly in about 2-3 minutes as I drenched her with cool water. I was worried though because she wasn’t drinking. I eventually convinced her to drink some sweet water after she had eaten some hay and gave her electrolytes. On the second loop she was drinking more which brought me some relief.

During the second loop, I started talking to this older woman on a pretty little black and white pinto mare with two blue eyes who was gaited. I asked her what kind of mare it was and she said a Spotted Saddle Horse. I mentioned how I had been looking for a Tennessee Walking Horse. Later in the ride she informed me that her mare was for sale. I started to strongly get interested and told her I would come ride the mare as soon as I had a weekend to do so. I still have my heart set on a Rocky Mountain or TWH though because of their specific gait and don’t know how Spotted Saddle Horses do in endurance. This mare didn’t seem to have a problem but I like different gaits of the TWHs.

We made such great time on the second loop we took a lot more walk breaks as the temperature started to increase. I was super pleased that I had FINALLY completed a ride (this was LD #7) without being uncomfortable or in pain. I honestly probably could have done a 50 based on how I was feeling, but I wouldn’t put Annabel through that yet. It only took me 7 rides to finally figure out how to stay comfortable and the secret was… walk breaks. After about 10 miles and once the pack had spread out, I started taking quick 30 second walk breaks to kick my feet out of my stirrups, roll my ankles, sip some water, and check our average pace.

Annabel had no problems completing and got all A’s and B’s on her vet card. All I wanted was a completion and I got it! Katherine also got a completion on her mare as well and I was happy for her.

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Annabel gets her 6th completion at the final ride of the season.

I’m trying to plan a camping and trail riding trip around New Year’s out in the mountains near Tucson. As of right now, that is my next ride away from the usual local outings.

On another completely random note; I am going to start selling Pampered Chef products. What does this have to do with riding? Well, everyone who knows me knows I love cooking and someday would like to come out with a camping cookbook for stove tops, grills, and campfires. Equestrians typically don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen because they’d rather be out riding. I will be selling products that promote my healthy eating habits, save time, and save money. I can’t wait to get started on that!

 

Must-Haves to Get Started in Endurance Riding

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You have a healthy horse, transportation, a place to ride at where you can collect some miles and want to try endurance riding? I just went through the process of compiling my new endurance gear this past year and here are my “must-haves” for getting started:

#1- A Helmet

Whether you are going from a free-spirited trail rider or from an expensive show helmet made of Titanium it’s really important to wear head protection in Endurance riding. Endurance is different than a relaxing trail ride as majority of the ride is done at a trot. There are also other elements to consider like rocky trails, or low hanging tree branches. Unlike the hunter/jumper horse show scene, a helmet for endurance is fairly inexpensive. It’s also helpful to get a helmet that is lightweight, (you will be wearing it for 6-24 hours a day!) provides plenty of ventilation, and fits well.

My Tipperary wasn’t an expensive purchase, just under $100 in comparison to expensive show jumping helmets.

#2- Ditch the tall boots; get something more comfortable.

One thing that you will not find in endurance is tall boots. The first thing that I got when I decided to switch to endurance riding were my Ariat Terrain Zip H20 boots. I did a 12 mile “Fun Ride” before I officially switched to endurance and could not believe how discomforted I was while wearing paddock boots. It’s very important to find a boot that is shock-absorbing because your feet can and will go numb! It is also common in endurance to have to dismount your horse and walk or run alongside him to give yourself and your horse a bit of a break. Some riders wear athletic shoes with cages on their stirrups, but most riders opt for the Ariat Endurance boots which are very similar to hiking boots.

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My Ariat Terrain H20 Zips have lasted me hundreds of miles and I wear them when I hike as well. 

 

#3- Comfort Stirrups & Seat Saver

When I did the Fun Ride last year I rode in my dressage saddle and irons. I did not know this would be a problem considering I have spent hours in the saddle in other disciplines. However, with endurance riding you can go hours posting the trot and not realize how uncomfortable that can end up being. I had searing pain in my ankles, and my toes went numb from only riding 12 miles. The other thing you may need is a seat saver, sheepskin cover, or a gel seat added. Being in the saddle for hours at a time can be uncomfortable to the point where you bum is sore. I had a friend who rode in a western saddle during a 30 mile ride and she immediately decided to purchase an endurance saddle after that ride. I ended up deciding to go all out and purchase a Tucker Endurance Saddle that features a “Gel-Cush” seat and “Ergobalance Trail Glide” stirrups.

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I love my saddle so much it’s sickening. I bought it off Ebay brand new and fell in love with the black leather and brass heart conchos. 

#4 Riding Tights

Unlike other English disciplines, endurance riders steer clear of breeches and jeans. Most riders wear Kerrits or Irideon riding tights that provide seamless comfort and eliminate chafing. Some riders even wear athletic tights.

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I actually have Lululemon tights on in this picture.

#5 Hoof Protection

In America, endurance riding takes place in fairly rocky and difficult terrain and especially here in Arizona. It took me some time and some trial and error but my 16hh Thoroughbred mare needed a more rugged set of shoes than just steel. She is now comfortable and happy being ridden in Easy Shoe Performance N/G shoes. My mare is confident now about going up and down steep and rocky terrain. Another common option is to leave your horse barefoot and use boots

Annabel currently wears the Easy Shoe Performance N/Gs (not shown) and has a pair of Renegades as spares. I would eventually like to have her barefoot and use the Renegades all the time.

#6 A HiTie System for your trailer

Camping is a part of endurance riding and it is rare to be stabled at a base camp that has corrals or stalls. You can tie your horse directly to your trailer, but I felt bad that my mare couldn’t walk around and was worried she’d get tangled up in the middle of the night while I slept. I had a “HiTie” system by Easy Care installed on the side of my horse trailer. My mare now has a 13’ diameter and can comfortably graze, lie down, and roll. I’ve been using one this whole season and have never had any problems with it.

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Annabel loves being on the Hi-Tie. 

Comfort is key when it comes to Endurance. At my first ride, I gawked at the idea of having to wear running shoes while riding, riding tights and putting sheepskin on my saddle (fashion before comfort-not!). I spent years in Show Jumping and Eventing looking trendy in my breeches and button-ups but notice how my “Must-Haves” are for the comfort of myself and my mare? Spending a little bit of money on these things are a great way to get started on successfully, and the least painful way to get through a ride.

What were your “must-haves” when you switched to Endurance?