My weekend update is now posted on my website:
I’ve been slowly switching over to my own website from my Adventures on Annabel wordpress blog.
My weekend update is now posted on my website:
I’ve been slowly switching over to my own website from my Adventures on Annabel wordpress blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Here are this week’s Friday Favorites:
Favorite New Brand- The Parks Apparel
Favorite IG Shot
Annabel’s Renegades for her front hooves came in on Friday. They are so pretty to look at. I’m using them as a spare in case her glue ons or shoes come off and I would eventually like to transition her to barefoot.
On Saturday, my training partner and I rode the competitive track at Estrella Regional Park. We did close to 9 miles in about 2 hours. The first 1/3 was a lot of trotting and Annabel had no problem wanting to trot over the rocks. I encouraged her to slow down or walk but she urged forward. The 2/3 was up and down hills at a walk, and the last part we did a lot of walking as I think the heat was getting to her or she just got tired.
I also made a trip out to Scottsdale after my ride to look for a full seat breech. Since I gave Andrea her fleece seat cover back I tend to slide around in my saddle (which is leather) a lot with tights. The best fitting pair was a pair of pink full seat breeches by Horseware Ireland as they were the only ones with a modified rise.
I also did a full moon hike at Lake Pleasant in the evening for a few hours where we did a 3 mile guided hike. It was really neat to hike up a hill and watch the harvest full moon rise up and over the lake.
Today, I thought it would be best to see how my breeches would hold up. Andrea and I went to Skyline this morning to do the Granite Falls loop which is a 1.7 mile extension we like to do because it’s flat with some fun little hills that the mares love to do.
Tonight, I’ll probably go hiking for about an hour at Estrella.
So that’s three regional parks I’ve been to in one weekend. I love Arizona.
On Sunday, when I eagerly went out for my last conditioning before the Grand Canyon hoping to do about 14 miles I had to abruptly stop about a 1/4 mile into my ride. Annabel was off. She was bobbing her head pretty bad and was off in her trot. I hopped off and was disappointed realizing the only reason that could be happening is her Ground Control shoes that my farrier put on two weeks ago. While checking her feet out I noticed that her shoes had gotten flexible enough that I could peel them back from the heel. I assumed that it was quite possible a small stone may have gotten wedged in there and stressed over my options.
Fortunately, my training partner’s farrier had come out today to do her horse’s glue-on Easy Shoe Performance shoes and he was able to fit me in after my farrier was booked for the week. It ended up working out because I had been wanting those shoes this whole time and had been fighting my farrier over it for about a year now. The farrier said that there was some swelling in her right front near the inner wall but it could have been related to anything. I just hope I can trot her out tomorrow soundly and be able to start and finish this weekend. The other good thing was this farrier was a dealer for Renegades so he was able to try out different sizes and was able to tell me her correct size. I got two things accomplished today that I’ve been longing to accomplish!
I feel like the Easy Shoe Performance shoes are more rugged for the type of terrain I ride in and am hoping it is the solution to all of her problems. I’m hoping Annabel is able to trot out soundly tomorrow but if she’s not I will be taking my training partner’s mustang, Wyatt that I’ve ridden a few times. At least I have a plan B.
I am now over the halfway mark for my first season in Endurance riding and I have to say, this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my 20 year riding career. I thought competing in eventing and show jumping was “fun” yet my years in those sports was hovered by nervousness, anxiety, and stress. The anxiety of showing doesn’t just stem from showing itself, it was a combination of ridiculous expenses, my status as an amateur competitor, and constantly comparing myself to those who had more. I did have some fun times, particularly as a Junior rider growing up in a barn of with other Junior riders and was the main source of my social life as a teenager. However, as an adult, it started to become stressful and people started to become more into themselves. The expenses started becoming burdening, and showing was not fun anymore.
I frequently question in my head what my sisters is doing. She is basically a working student for an asshole of a grand prix show jumper and is afraid to speak up or stand up to him. She works like a slave, about 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and really struggles with expenses. I remember her coming over and staying at my parents house near a big horse show for a week and being so thankful to use conditioner in her hair as it had been a long time since she had done so. She is doing this intense labor, so she can further her skills and move up the ladder to get closer to becoming a horse trainer. Here I am, I’ve had two months off as a teacher, and meet up with my mentor and her friends several times a week to go on fun trail rides all over the valley. I love exploring, I love socializing, and I love that my horse is happy. If it truly makes her happy, than I have nothing more to say, but I’m glad I ditched that lifestyle.
It’s interesting though how endurance is kind of the underground equestrian discipline. Anyone with a horse has heard and seen a variety of equestrian disciplines but speaking of endurance the only thing other horse people tend to reference to is “Arabians”, “Hidalgo”, and “Desert”. Want to know the only thing I knew about Endurance? I learned about “tailing” while scrolling around on Tumblr and thought it was a really interesting thing. Then, I started to research a little more. I think the reason we don’t SEE the sport of endurance is because it doesn’t take place in an arena, the main difference between “Us” and “them”. When I boarded for 5 weeks in southern California away from my “Zonies” (our Arizona endurance group) I was at a multi-discipline large public boarding barn. There were eventing, hunter/jumper, dressage, reining, and western pleasure trainers riding around in arenas every day and so they expose themselves to each other. In Endurance, our training/conditioning mostly takes place out on the trail and obviously our competition. I think that mostly explains why the general equestrian population is clueless about endurance as I once was (and still am learning). I was actually in a food line at one of my sister’s horse shows over the summer. In front of me was a woman I used to ride with and still follows me on FaceBook. She turned around and hugged me and said “So, you are doing Endurance riding now!” and nearly everyone in the line turned around and looked at me.
Going back to having fun; I am still in awe over some of the incredible experiences I’ve had on my “retired” show mare. Annabel has honestly been a better trail horse than she was a show horse. She too, experienced anxiety of the show life. I love seeing how happy she is out in pasture with her gal pal and training partner Lily. Her show life, as well as most show horses experience 23 hours a day in a 12′ x 12′ box stall for the fear of injury, lack of space, and helped keep her physically clean and free of battle wounds from playing with other horses. I think she loves going out and exploring trails just as much as I do, and she loves the company of other horses. So far this year I’ve completed three LDs with her and as much fun as they were I’ve done so many other fun things! In addition to our weekly meet ups with other Zonies in the valley, and regular conditioning at two Regional Parks both within 10 minutes of my barn with my mentor, I’ve been on a camping trip with my mare which consisted of riding during the day and campfires at nights and I’ve gone out to the lake to play in the water and swim with my horse. Annabel’s mane is growing longer, her whiskers and ears remain uncut and I allow her to just be a horse. I no longer have to get judged by what I am wearing when I’m riding or the tack being used on my mare.
I think the endurance community is a bit cultish; and I don’t say that in a bad way. I say that in a cool, swaggy, “Fight Club”, kind of way. The general equestrian population hears about us but never sees us, and we get to do really fun things with our horses. So far, I think it’s been a great community to get to know. In the winter, there was some arguing in the Facebook groups, and there can be drama, but in person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and socializing with awesome people. Everyone I’ve met is all about having fun, exploring, and making sure their horse is well-cared for and put first.
My entire riding career has never really worked in my favor except one year. Other than that, majority of the barns I’ve ridden at were an hour away from where I lived, and struggled to get to horse shows. I’ve ridden with many different trainers and have worn the colors of many show barns and while I had great experiences with a few of them, I also ended up calling bullshit on “trainers” too many times. This year, has been easy for me. I’ve had no problem getting to rides, they are affordable to me and in the region and don’t require you to stay a certain amount of days. If you can do 5 days, great, if you can do just Saturday, that’s fine too. My training and conditioning includes hauling off and riding between two regional parks on a weekly basis, along with meeting other groups around the valley for rides. My mentor is also a fellow boarder making rides and communication easy.
I wasn’t trying to bash on other equestrian disciplines earlier and I understand that everyone has something they truly love. I remember rolling my eyes at my mom who frequently would tell me “Why don’t you just ride for fun?” and my argument would be how I can’t have fun if I am not goal-oriented, and goals directly related to proving it in the show ring. But she was right, and I was wrong. I just needed to find that way to have fun, and now I have, and invite others along for the ride to see that too.
Among the Facebook Endurance groups there is a frequent question about trucks, trailers, and how you camp. I decided to go ahead and fully discuss my set up, and why I made the decisions I made.
First off, let me briefly explain that I am a 26 year old single woman with no kids, and own 1 horse. I’ve owned my mare for nearly a decade and showed previously in show jumping and eventing. I work as a teacher, and live with my parents who don’t require me to pay rent which has given me the opportunity to make these purchases (I take care of the house, clean, and do maintenance when they are at their other house in southern CA). I have no desire to want to move out of their house until I decide to get married and I enjoy living with them. They are also a little bit older (late 60’s, early 70’s) and it makes me feel better being able to keep an eye on them and help out.
Purchase #1: My 15′ Nissan Titan
Personally, I am a Ram Truck fan. I would have and still wish I was able to get a Ram Truck, but here’s the deal; my older brother has been a service manager at a Nissan dealership for years now. I knew that my brother would be willing to help me out and cut a lot of BS costs I’d have to pay for if I bought a truck outside of his dealership. I owned a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and was worried about not getting a fair price on my trade in. My brother took in my GC for about $5000 more than what other dealerships priced it at. You see, my family has worked in the car business most of their life. What a lot of dealerships do is they use Kelley Blue Book to give you a fair price on your trade, but one of the tricks they do is they mark your car as “Fair Condition”, instead of “Excellent” to make your car seem at a lower value and that they are being fair to you. My brother took my GC in on “excellent condition” as it truely was in perfect condition. Now, when it came to the truck and after much research, I felt the only way I could safely haul is if I bought the Utility Package Titan with a special tow package, different frame, and is able to pull about 2000 lbs more than a regular Titan. We had to have my truck shipped to his dealership because there were only 3 new ones in southern California at the time. My brother also sold me the truck without making any kind of commission. He was able to sell it to me at the price the dealership paid for it. My Titan ended up being what I call an “upgrade” at $8000 out of my pocket. The other reason why I decided to go with a 1/2 ton truck was because I knew it would be my commuter car. My family once owned a Ford F-250 Diesel truck. That thing was a pain to drive around everyday just to run errands. It made parking difficult as well (and the truck was a piece of shit-Fords suck and always broke down on us even though we bought it new). A lot of people will argue the more truck the better, but a 1/2 ton pick up should have no problem towing a 2 horse BP. So far, I have had no problems and have never felt like I didn’t have enough power. Yes, I can feel the load back there, but I’ve towed from Phoenix to Flagstaff which is up a hill and had no problems and was even able to pass Semis without a problem.
Purchase #2: My Trailer; a Royale by Trails West, 2 horse straight load BP with a ramp.
I fell in love with this trailer while shopping around at a dealership. It felt like it was a luxury BP and loved having a ramp and feed manger. The tack room was extra spacious, and when I decided I wanted this model I had the intention of turning the tack room into an LQ area. The other reason why I bought this model was because it was 7’6″ tall inside and is considered a “Warmblood” trailer. Although my 16hh mare can easily fit into a regular 7′ tall trailer, I didn’t know what my equestrian future would be and if I’d end up buying a bigger horse. I purchased my trailer used from a private seller who had only used it a couple times.
There is a downside but required an easy solution; trailer sway.
Because the tack/dressing room of this trailer is so big, it doesn’t put a lot of tongue weight on which can cause trailer sway. I never recall any issues with trailer sway when I towed a 3 horse slant, because you always had to put at least one horse up in the front closest to the tounge of the trailer. The solution for this was to spend around $500 and buy weight distribution/stabilizer bars, and a sway control mount. I had to get the sway control welded on, but was able to figure out the rest on my own. It made the biggest difference in my towing and I feel much safer. It was worth every penny.
Purchase #3: My 16′ Lance Truck Camper
So my dad and I tried to make some plans about turning my tack/dressing room into a small LQ area for myself. We just couldn’t seem to make it work and he doesn’t have the most handy man skills to get that job done. I was over sleeping in a tent, my truck, the guilt of inviting myself to stay with someone else, or finding a motel in the middle of nowhere when I did show jumping and eventing. I wanted a place to truly enjoy and call my own. I wanted to not only enjoy riding, but enjoy the camping aspect. I started to research truck campers and decided I was going to get a pop-up camper by Palomino RV which would cover my basic needs. I didn’t know you could get a truck camper for a 1/2 ton but you definitely can! When I went to go look at these pop-up campers I decided to bring my parents along with me. My mom quickly drained my excitement when she noticed these Palomino Pop-Ups had no toilet. My mom is the type of woman who holds her bladder because she refuses to relieve herself in a portable. At horse shows growing up she would actually drive off the property to use a real bathroom. She looked at me in horror and said, “Ashley! You can’t get a camper and not have a toilet are you nuts!”. She proved herself right as I recalled sleeping in a tent in Flagstaff once for a cross country schooling event and froze my buns off trying to squat down and pee behind my Jeep tire at 3am where it was 30 degrees. So I quickly changed my mind and we started looking for a pop-up with a toilet. Then, my mom also noted that these pop-up campers had no AC or heater because the pop-up part is a mesh-like screening. She told me to recall all of the horse shows and horse trials I had been to during extreme weather. I quickly flashbacked to the amount of heat waves, windstorms, thunderstorms, torrential rain, show grounds a foot deep in mud, and literally a blizzard where I had to ditch my tent and go to a crappy motel because the freezing wind attacked it. So then, my search changed to a solid truck camper with AC, Heater, a toilet AND a shower. I ended up getting sold on the great quality a Lance provided and was sold when the salesman told me he’d sell it to me for $5000 under the original sales price since it had been on the lot for some time. My dad once owned an RV dealership and when he supported me on this offer I knew I had to take it (especially since he is really smart about big investments/purchases) Because I no longer had the ridiculous expenses of stupid expensive horse shows, and paying trainers and outrageous board fees, I was able to buy my 2016 Lance 650 Truck Camper in March 2016 and have been gleaming about it ever since. The Lance 650 is designed for 1/2 tons. At first, figuring out how to back into it, and getting it on and off my truck was frustrating, but now it’s a breeze now that I’ve figured it out. The first night I had to try to take it off after doing my first LD and then driving home a couple hours later for a few hours after being extremely tired I’m not going to lie I sat under my truck and cried trying to figure out how to get it off at 11pm at night. I am so grateful I have a toilet to pee in at 3am, a heater to turn on when the temperature has dipped down into the low 30’s, and an AC that I’ve only been able to run once when I used my ex-bf’s generator. However, I do have this wind tunnel fan thing over my bed which runs off my 12 volt battery if I really need it. I took my 4th trip before I finally decided to use the tiny shower. It was the most miserable but amazing feeling when I did use it because I did my 3rd LD during a heat wave and the humidity was high that day. I was literally covered in dirt from it sticking to me as we got stuck on a single-track for miles behind another group. I didn’t turn the water heater on because I was drenched in sticky sweat so my shower consisted of about 3- 20 second bursts of cold water. But omg, I felt so much better after I got out and was grateful for it. I couldn’t imagine sleeping that night covered in dirt and sweat and would have rather poured a bucket over my head than not showering. Anyways, I love my truck camper, it is my pride and joy, and I love being able to fully immerse myself in the camping experience of being able to cook, pee, shower, dine, watch the rain, color at my dinette, and go on any getaway my little heart desires without having to pay for a hotel.
I love being able to look at Annabel through the window where my dinette is. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent reading, coloring, eating, and watching her through the window during our downtime at rides.
My truck camper is my happy place. I definitely gave it a touch of my love and style.
Here is a list of the upgrades that were necessary to make sure that my truck can safely tow both my horse and my camper.
Pros of my Set Up:
Cons of my Set Up:
Even though I have equal pros and cons listed, it doesn’t justify them as all equal. Some things aren’t as big of a deal as others. If I had to go back and change anything I wouldn’t. I’m really happy with my set up and big purchases I’ve made. Sometimes I wish I could have gotten a Ram 1500 or 2500 but I know I’d be cursing at myself when I have to park the 2500 and am not sure if things would have turned out the way they did if I had to pay significantly more for a truck and lose significantly less on my Jeep as a trade in. I most definitely wished I could have gotten a 4×4 because I’ve scratched my head a few times hoping I could get out of some areas but I didn’t have the option to get a 4×4 truck. Yes, you can safely tow with a 1/2 ton pickup which is a frequent debate on forums and groups even though the most common answer is get more truck. Having a big truck can be a pain in the ass, and my 1/2 ton is able to do the job I’m asking it to do. I made sure I made the necessary purchases to make sure I can haul everything safely. I’ve had many, many people stop by my set up and raise their eyebrows at my Titan with my camper aboard concerned about the weight or ask if it was the new XD diesel at a first glance. I’ve also had gooseneck owners envy my set up and saying how they wished they’d just gotten a little BP or how they wished they could camp without the horses if they wanted to without a big LQ horse trailer. My set up works for me, it may not work for everyone else. As I mentioned before, it’s usually just me by myself, or a friend tagging a long. I don’t have a husband or kids where I need extra room or extra horses. I have no doubt in my mind that someday when I’m married with kids I will have that big Ram 3500 Dually with a beautiful Lakota 3-4 horse trailer, but right now this is what works for me. My dad also raised me on the power of investing as he invests in real estate. A lot of people are bitter towards me and my truck/trailer/camper lifestyle but I consider it a living bank account. Rather than having my savings for a house sit in a bank, I’m using it to enjoy these things; in which my trailer and camper do not depreciate that fast. If it came to hard times or when I’m ready to buy my own house I’m prepared to sell these things if I had to.
I hope you found this useful, and I understand that honest opinions are important for others when making big purchases.