Friday, February 20, 2009

What am I getting myself into??

On the drive to and from Louisville, KY where this year's AERC Convention and Trade Show was held, I was able to talk to Jacke, and in talking with her and looking at the hills in the distance of Clark State Forest off of I-65, I've come to the realization that I have no idea what I am getting into with this whole endurance thing!!

I mean, it doesn't sound too bad, to ride a horse for a maximum of 6 hours including an hour long hold covering 25 miles of varying terrain. With a good base of conditioning, that shouldn't be impossible to tackle.

Except the fact that the only other trail ride I've been on was in 2002 when I discovered that Arabee is afraid of maps, and I ended up in the dirt with a compression fracture in my spine. I was able to get back on and ride to the trailer, it was a long time ago, it doesn't bother me anymore, but it happened. This is an inherently risky activity, and I have a 14 month old daughter to think about.

Then there's the fact that I have not a clue how to take a horse's pulse, but I can learn. Thanks for the stethoscope, Jacke!!!

And we still haven't mentioned how I am pretty much afraid of heights - to the point of even when hiking on trails I stay very close to the hill side when there is a steep drop off and try hard not to think about it - and I have a strong suspicion there will be several single-track trails with steep drop offs.......yikes!

I'm working on collecting my endurance tack ensemble. This has been an interesting time where I've been challenged to learn more about saddle fit, hoof care, leather vs. synthetic, sizing, and most of all a time when I've been very creative on how to save money when most of the items needed are pricey.

Am I in over my head??? Probably a little. Maybe a lot. But I think I can do it.

I have a mentally and physically sound Arabian mare who knows me, and whom I am getting to know better and better. We're putting in the basic training, adding on miles, and getting conditioned little by little.

I have a very supportive husband who loves me and who wants me to be able to do this - he can see how much fun I have been having. He also wants me to be safe, and isn't quite sure that riding horses is a good way to keep me safe - but beyond that he knows I am loving every minute of it, and for now that is good enough for him.

I have a great location. Plenty of area to ride in, access to rivers, hills, flat places to build wind, good pasture. My farm is about 1.5 hour trailer drive from Brown County, Versailles, and Clark State Forest - I have PLENTY of places to train, just got to find someone to ride with me close to my level - I am as BEGINNER as they come, and a hesitant, cautious beginner at that.

I've found so far that the people in this sport seem to be genuinely interested in seeing others succeed at endurance also. Sure, they want to win too, but it seems there are so many definitions of "winning" at endurance that people aren't afraid to help you out. This is great!

So, I don't want to be all "gloom and doom, I can't do this" - because I think I can, I have a lot of good things going for me that say I can succeed at this. On the other hand, I have got to make sure I don't jump into the deep end before I know how to swim, so to speak. I think it would be very easy to get in over my head with endurance, so I have got to remember to take things slow and easy. 2009 will be my first season riding endurance, I don't want it to be my last - I want to make sure I get a good start and don't scare myself or ruin my mare. I'll quote someone I forget who said it: "The slow way is the fast way"

I think they might be right.


Endurance Granny said...

You will be fine. Just grab onto a conditioning program, take it serious, and expose your mare to the trails. It is a whole new world out there.

The best advice I can give to stay safe is the well known saying "ride your own ride." If your ride is fast, then ride it fast. If your ride is slow and steady, then that is what you do. To just complete is an accomplishment with a new horse, or a new rider. You are both, and so am I, but we will make it.

And you are welcome (stethoscope). To get her pulse you will place the stethoscope in front of the girth area, just behind the elbow. It takes some practice, and if they fidget FORGET IT *LOL*. You can also take a pulse under the jaw. There is a big juicy blood vessel there if you don't press to hard, you'll feel it. ~E.G.

OurCrazyFarm said...

Your living the dream! Enjoy it! Thanks for taking us all along! Terri

Endurance Granny said...

One other thing Nicole...if your horse is not ready by April, there is another ride I think in May? This would give you a full 12-14 (I didn't count them guessing) weeks to work towards a 25. So if you feel you aren't quite there when the time comes, there is always the next one. You have a nice steady mare with a good attitude, she's sound, and you have the big purchases out of the way. So you are GOOD TO GO!!! I will likely enter Phebes even if I don't think she can complete, just so she gets the experience under her belt and I can feel a little more competent. We will ride our own ride and what happens....happens (insert happy smiley face here). ~E.G.

Boots and Saddles 4 Mel said...

Take things little baby steps at a time. My goal is 100 miles. Even now if I really think about being in the saddle for 24 hours, the whole scares me. I'm pretty wiped after a 50 still. So build up slow. 1-2 hours in the saddle will eventually turn into 4-5 and you will wonder where the time went! Especially during an endurance ride. I promise the miles will fly by faster than you thought possible. I'll echo with E.G. said - get a program and ride your own ride.