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Trail Riding Pet Peeve

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  • #61
    Tevis has a very different terrain that the rest of the country, my fl sand-trained horse might not have the skill set to navigate a rock-climbing ride. Some are able to get their horses there before a ride and work with them for a month or so, but that is a luxury. People and horses have lost their lives falling off the sides of the trails.The people who loan out horses usually check ride records to see your capabilities.


    • #62
      Reviving this thread, because I am just starting to condition my horse for my first LD, in July. Having watched some video's of rides and becoming a little disillusioned with what I saw, I still want to keep it in to perspective: I want to be the best rider I can be and enjoy my horse in an activity she will enjoy. She's an Arab and while my formal lessons are mostly dressage, she hates it. She hates jumping too, so those lessons helped me, but not her. I love this horse to pieces, so I sought out something we can do together.

      I've never shown and I was way too afraid to - having read so many threads on this forum over the years that have the theme, "OMG can you believe she wore that?", and "People are nuts to wear their hair like that in this decade...", I never felt confident enough to attempt more than a schooling show. My biggest hope with endurance is that there isn't a lot of good beige, bad beige, white only attitudes, that make beginners feel completely unwelcomed. I've heard that it's completely opposite, and the general attitude is warm and welcome. I'm referring to fabic, not skin color .

      Fortunately for me, I've had a good dressage instructor who instilled good foundation and horsemanship before I even understood what endurance was. Because she knows me and my horse, she supports me 100% in my desire to try endurance.

      All of that said, I've scoured the internet to find the riders I'd like to watch, but I still don't know who's who in the sport. I love the images of Karen Chaton, but honestly, she's the only rider I know by name. I personally think she looks fabulous on her horses. It's always helpful to aspire to be like a rider of your discipline - but who are THE riders in endurance? Does anyone look up to a specific rider who excells at endurance, with excellent skills and horsemanship? Please share!

      There are crap riders everywhere. There are more bad riders in the World, than good ones. It's just the way it is. My challenge in life has been to keep the focus on myself and not worry one bit about what other people are doing. Once you put the cross-hairs on the bad one's, you can't think about anything else and it's counterproductive to personal success. This goes for anything in life, really. This is the attitude I'm going in to endurance with and I hope it keeps me from being distracted.
      Last edited by hundredacres; Mar. 19, 2013, 01:33 PM.


      • #63
        You might try the book Endurance Riding by Ann Hyland,or Successful Endurance Riding by Ingram/Hollander. I know these are older editions but they had some great insights into the sport. Hollander had 14 Best Condition finishes at the pub of the book. I never made it to Tevis or Old Dominion but we did other endurance and distance trail rides. My instructor never understood the thrill of the trail but lessons and miles always went together. My long time 50 mile mare is long gone and her son never really took to the miles,great arena horse though. I have a hot shot trail horse now but I am not up to the miles...go figure. Good luck on your riding. I always found it to be a friendly sport and helpful people. I guess you get out of it what you put in.


        • #64
          Hundred acres: I've been volunteering at CTRs for a long time (current gelding is a show horse, bought him for that, got what I wanted, IE NOT a trail horse. He doesn't like dirt or cows )

          People show up in the most outrageous outfits, unmatching tack, and clean, but hairy horses that have stains on the white. Huge shock to my show self. But this isn't a pretty competition, it's not a tack competition. So don't worry, show up in purple breeches! (cause I do to take down ribbons!)


          • #65
            Haha! Endurance is the absolute opposite of the show ring "good beige, bad beige"! I got into it by crewing for a friend and at my first ride-camp I thought, OMG, it's Woodstock with horses! You can wear anything you want and use any kind of tack - people might ask you about something out of interest but nobody will be snooty. It's all about comfort first and foremost and really the horse's comfort takes precedence over the rider's. The camping arrangements are just as diverse... everything from the big-bucks LQs with slide-outs to pup-tents and peeling-paint stock BP that's swept out and covered with a blue plastic tarp to make sleeping space (whose resident might be the best rider there). I've never been shy about asking people what they're doing or why they do something a certain way (to learn, not judge) and I've never been to a camp where people haven't been friendly and open. You will have a great time, don't be afraid to talk to anyone about anything, vets included.

            Re others' riding skill and being judgmental, you will see all kinds of riders, good and bad, at any ride, so my advice is keep your opinion of others to yourself ;-) I don't worry so much about what somebody else is doing as long as their horse looks happy and nothing looks dangerous. As a dressage rider you should be fine as long as your butt can handle many hours in variable terrain! I will say, though, that the endurance credo is that the rider gets to pick speed and direction and the horse gets to pick gait and exactly where to place their feet... which may be a bit of a mind-stretcher if someone has only ridden dressage. Point is the horse knows which muscles he wants to use in sand versus hard packed footing and when he's tired.

            As for best riders, two who come to my mind are Valerie Kanavy and John Crandell, but I don't know that there are videos of them riding, per se. What I would do is go to youtube and search for endurance ride videos. You'll see all kinds of riders, from good to not-so-good, as well as lots of terrain examples.

            If you haven't already done this, go to the AERC site http://www.aerc.org, and scroll down in the Endurance Updates column to find two videos of rides: one is Fort Howes and one is Old Glory. Not so much about particular riders but great overviews of what a ride is like. FYI, you'll also see on the aerc page that Karon Chaton's horse Granite Chief was just inducted into the endurance hall of fame ;-)
            It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


            • #66
              Hundredacres: if you can volunteer at a ride, do it. You'll see the good, bad and ugly. Some of the best riders aren't that traditional in how they ride, but it works. And that is the best part about endurance, whatever works for you is OK. Want to wear leopard print tights, go for it. Jump off and run alongside your horse, do it. Rope halter, hackamore, western or dressage saddle, you see it all.

              I have met the nicest people, and also some rude ones. Like any discipline. I don't "know" any of the famous folks, though like you, I know Karen Chaton is very successful and looks good. Jeremy and Heather Reynolds are also competing in the ultra elite. I don't follow them much, being a beginner, and not aspiring to those levels.

              I think you just get out and ride. And take care of your horse. Start by following one of the good beginning protocols out there. I think your attitude is right on. I think that is also what most endurance riders believe. No matter what, it is you and your horse facing the trail.
              "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty



              • #67
                Woodstock with horses! YES! I won't have the guts to do purple breeches, or leopard, but I certainly don't mind other people who do, and in fact, I enjoy the company of people who will be out-there like that . I'll be in my dressage saddle this year - until I can try out some endurance saddles....so I'll be a rebel in my own, quiet way. Oh, I did order a purple pad *squeal*, which made both my husband and my daughter laugh. In my non-horse life I'm a sensible shoes and comfortable clothes kind of girl, so a purple pad for me, is quite a statement. I have a tack room full of black, and white pads.

                I've ordered the Hollander book and am looking forward to reading it. Glad the autor has a good endorsement!

                Hah, will do some youtube research...... any excuse to put horsey things on pinterest. I've scoured the aerc.com site and am sending in my membership fee soon, and I think it comes with a magazine or mesletter? Maybe names will start becoming familiar.

                When I initially read this thread, I quite frankly got a little discouraged - as a newbie, it seemed like I'd stumbled onto a joke of a discipline (based on some of the replies). But again, I'm in it for different reasons than some people, especially those that admitted to rolling their eyes at the endurance set. Again, focus, focus, focus....it's not about anyone else but my horse and me!

                Thanks for the replies - they're encouraging!

                ETA: something that I really want to understand but would be afraid to ask in person.....what's the reasoning behind the hackamores VERY low on the nose? That is the one thing that truly bothers me in my "reserach"....I've seen photo's in tack ads for endurance, and videos and photo's. Anyone know why they do that?


                • #68
                  I consider endurance the "NASCAR" of the riding world! Don't always judge other riders by your perspective, we are often riding in a way that keeps our horses backs comfortable. It ain't about looking pretty.Start volunteering at rides, that's how you'll learn.


                  • #69
                    I consider endurance the "NASCAR" of the riding world! Don't always judge other riders by your perspective, we are often riding in a way that keeps our horses backs comfortable. It ain't about looking pretty.Start volunteering at rides, that's how you'll learn.


                    • #70
                      I found this video that brought a huge smile to my face. LOVE the grey horse (I also have a grey Arab) - lovely, relaxed riders and horses:


                      My brother lives I Abu Dhabi. I never wanted to visit him until now!

                      I loved this one too:

                      I see some very nice riders here too.


                      • #71
                        I don't know the answer to "hackamore low on nose" question (I use french-link snaffle) but I do know this: NEVER be afraid to ask an endurance rider a question about his/her horse or tack! They love to share things that work for them, whether about feed, conditioning, electrolytes, etc., etc.
                        And endurance riders love to see new people coming into the sport - it's the only way it will continue to grow! In fact there used to be an endurance campaign called "I Got Mine" which was all about encouraging riders to recruit new riders. I became the "I Got Mine" for the friend I crewed for ;-)

                        Thanks for the Abu Dhabi link, that was fun. The riders from that part of the world have a style all their own...
                        It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                        • #72
                          The hackamore thing -- it is very simply an incorrect use of a hackamore. It may be a rider who has not trained their horse to do anything but run through the woods, so they are desperate for brakes. Or someone who can train their horse but prefers the shortcut. It may be someone who simply does not know how to fit a hackamore. But you are correct in that, no, it should not ever sit on the soft tissue of the nose, especially in a sport in which you want to maximize airflow to the lungs.
                          Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                          Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                          We Are Flying Solo


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by hundredacres View Post
                            RShe's an Arab and while my formal lessons are mostly dressage, she hates it. She hates jumping too, so those lessons helped me, but not her.
                            I have to disagree. By taking dressage lessons you have helped your horse by becoming a better rider. So many I see riding "endurance" haven't a clue how to hold the reins, balance themselves in a saddle or have good fitting tack put on correctly. Never had a lesson in their lives and as previously mentioned in another post, hate all ring work and refuse to take any instruction what-so-ever. They go on this way for years. This is not about what color or type of outfits riders wear.

                            There was a vet (or maybe an MD?) trying to push his barefoot at all costs agenda for endurance horses a few years ago on horseshoes.com. He proudly posted a pic of himself galloping his horse down a dirt road with his (the human)legs fully extended past his horse's shoulder and his hands holding the reins at his own ear level (I kid you not). A few of the farriers suggested he take a couple of riding lessons which I'm sure feel on deaf ears. That picture was a perfect example of a rider without a clue but couldn't see a problem at all. Wish I had saved it.


                            • #74
                              Originally posted by rcloisonne View Post
                              I have to disagree. By taking dressage lessons you have helped your horse by becoming a better rider. So many I see riding "endurance" haven't a clue how to hold the reins, balance themselves in a saddle or have good fitting tack put on correctly. Never had a lesson in their lives and as previously mentioned in another post, hate all ring work and refuse to take any instruction what-so-ever. They go on this way for years. This is not about what color or type of outfits riders wear.
                              Wow. Way to paint with a broad brush. I am an AERC Decade Team - 10 years Endurance (50 miles and up) with the same equine partner. I also competed at Dressage at Devon. Can you claim that?

                              No, didn't think so.

                              One of my eventing instructors was not only on an Olympic team but she rode IN the Olympics. How about you?

                              No, didn't think so again.

                              For those less DQ nose-in-the-air-they-all-stink-and-can't-ride-worth-squat readers: I found that both sports - Endurance and Dressage- do not generally use the same muscles, same techniques, same type of riding, same terrain, same anything. One is on a teeny tiny artificial surface that is groomed completely flat, and the basis is the perfect 20 meter circle, horse collected, and on the haunches. The other is done on organic, shifting terrain of varying elevation and ungroomed surfaces, and the basis being a freely moving equine that is judged fit to continue after 25 to 50 to 100 miles in one day.

                              Dressage by its very nature demands complete rider control in orchestrating each step of the horse in a frame that is not a normal everyday expression for the equine; Endurance demands the rider allow the horse freedom to find its way down the trail using the horse's own natural balance, not an artificial one, while still be guided as to direction and speed.

                              So yes, the reins can be held different - no choke-hold "on the bit" for a trail horse unless you want to have it stumble over some trail rock, root, hole, log and go down, taking you with it. A dressage rider on the trail would need to employ the free walk loose rein for best results. The Endurance saddle is designed to fit BETTER, SIT BETTER on the horse, and be FAR MORE COMFORTABLE for both horse and rider in order to save the back muscles from being compromised and injured during the LONG hours the rider sits on the horse's back. My dressage saddle almost wrecked my horse's back over the miles. As wonderful as it was for dressage and putting me in position for dressage maneuvers, it wasn't designed for the open, flowing, long trail. It was designed for the ring, and a total of 45 minutes on the horse's back. My endurance saddle was handmade in Germany with endurance in mind, and my horse floated down the trail with far more freedom of movement and expression than could ever be achieved in any high dollar dressage model.

                              Yes, the riders "ride" differently. One does circles and movements in a flat ring, driving a horse into the bit using a deep seat and driving back while attempting to lighten the forehand. Methods designed for war maneuvers on big horses that needed close-in flexibility. The other rider rides "light" for covering long distance on natural terrain, constantly modifying direction and forward speed as the trail dictates, leaving the horse to find it's pace and rhythm to facilitate and preserve the best use of the horse's finite energy. A heavy, clutching dressage leg would exhaust the rider within a mile or so, and deaden the horse's sides.

                              I'm not sure where you found this post that claims Endurance riders "hate ring work, and refuse to take any instruction what-so-ever." That would be like me saying there is a post that claims all Dressage riders can't ride a 20 meter circle without their dressage trainer standing there telling them it was "not round enough" for somesuch, and are scared crapless of setting foot outside the ring. (Sadly, I know of one such dressage rider pertaining to the later. Lovely, sweet lady, but she was honestly scared to death to ride outside the confines of her own ring. She didn't even ride in her fenced pastures. She was, however, delighted that I could intelligently discuss with her her methodology of obtaining a decent shoulder in, lengthening, canter depart, etc. and the endless pursuit of a really good forward gait steadily on the bit. She desperately wanted to come out riding with me, especially up the mountain, but she was scared to ride her own horses (she had 6) as none of them had ever been outside the ring. I did have a horse she could have ridden, but...she told me she was so terrified that she'd "have to ride the horse in a frame". While one of mine had done driven dressage, I was reluctant to ask that horse to carry a terrified woman who would be clutching the reins and attempting to orchestrate every step of that poor horse on the trail. She would have been your "perfect example of a rider without a clue" on the trail, while once back on a flat ring, in her own discipline, she would have been excellent.)

                              Did I find my years of dressage a help in my Endurance? Not really. The scope was far too different in what needed to be achieved. The ONLY thing that transferred from my dressage to Endurance as really helpful was the half-halt. Great little gem for slowing the forward movement and lightening up the horse without having to be in it's face. Every endurance rider should have this little lesson in their back pocket.

                              So unless one has ridden 50 to 100 miles in a day on tough terrain, and done it for over 10 years, and can claim to have showed in the ring at Dressage at Devon, or equivalent, I'd suggest not pointing fingers at another discipline as being clueless if they don't subscribe to your idealized image of an equestrian. It only shows your own ignorance, at best.
                              Last edited by gothedistance; Mar. 20, 2013, 12:04 PM.


                              • #75
                                Your post excited me even more, gothedistance.

                                rcl, I think I know what you mean - and I appreciate what I think you meant . We will be a better team (my horse and I) for the cross training. My belief is that every horse on the planet will be better at what it does with the cross training in dressage and some gymnastics. While my little mare hates ring work, she still has to do it, just not daily. And I'll continue lessons and I'll still use cavelletti because it's good for us. I suppose there are people out there on trails who never step foot in a arena and don't take a lesson because they think endurance is a get out of jail free card, since the horse doesn't "need" it. The theme of this thread though, is that they are in every discipline, barn, and backyard - it's not unique to trail riders.

                                I guess what gothedistance said, but she said it better .


                                • #76
                                  Actually, I find dressage to be very helpful for riding endurance, and I usually do dressage with my endurance horse at least one day per week. It helps him become more balanced, supple, and responsive, all of which benefit him on the trail. I certainly don't ride him in a dressage frame at endurance rides, nor is my position the same, but I do cue him almost entirely with my seat and legs, just touching the reins as needed (as long as we're not having discussions about speed ), and that communication is developed through the work we do in the arena.
                                  RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.


                                  • #77
                                    Very true, bhlh -- dressage work can really strengthen the topline and teach a horse balance and how to use his body better in a variety of situations. One does not have to be practiced at the exclusion of the other as the above tirade would seem to suggest. Many people have made the trip to Devon and/or trained with Olympic riders (why yes, I have) -- not sure why the assumption that this is some unique feat or that it bestows one with special expertise. In fact, the tirader has done the same thing they so loudly raise their hackles at by suggesting those who train in dressage are terrified to leave the ring, ROFL!

                                    I primarily event (our horses are hardly restricted to flat groomed surfaces, ha, I am LUCKY if the dressage arena is not on the side of a grassy slope!). But I cross train with my endurance racing BFF. Our disciplinies are VERY complementary. I taught her horse some dressage and boy does he get complements on his topline at vet checks now. She taught me lots of new tidbits about conditioning, etc. Sometimes we even do, GASP!, dressage work on the trail, responding to leg and seat by changing pace, length of stride, or balance! A horse can be connected with his hind end engaged without having a Grand Prix outline, LOL. One should never throw away tools in the toolbox whether you are in the mountains or in the arena or some field in between.
                                    Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                    Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                    We Are Flying Solo


                                    • #78
                                      I've ridden endurance a lot. And there is a certain percentage of riders in the sport who could use improvement. But take me to a show anywhere in the world and show me 100% of the riders all there that are 'perfect'.
                                      I doubt it will happen.

                                      I sometimes do resent the implication some people have that endurance riders are just a bunch of yahoos. Especially when I then hop to other threads were the same posters are asking things as crazy as 'hacking outside - how do I do it, or what size blanket for my horse?'


                                      Like every equine sport we have the great riders, the good riders, the out for a days fun schoolie riders and the learning riders. The thing I love about this sport compared to other disciplines is the huge willingness of riders to mentor other riders and share their knowledge about horsemanship - find that at a dressage show often?

                                      Many endurance riders come from other equine disciplines, - me for example I'm a former h/j rider who rode on the youth canadian national team wayyyy back and competed internationally a time or two after that - making a sweeping generalization that all endurance riders cant ride is just plain rude and shows complete ignorance of the sport imo.

                                      I don't know where you ride, but most the riders in my club are good solid riders who know a bucketload more about true horsemanship than the average bear - we have multiple endurance champions who ride in our club - who are smart, knowledgable, and yes they do know how to ride - tyvm.
                                      Originally posted by ExJumper
                                      Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


                                      • #79
                                        Nice post, RC. You did a better job getting the message across than I did, apparently. Kudos!! Next time I'll try to remember to rein in the verbose when dealing with the unwashed ring bound crowd.


                                        • #80
                                          GTD - Don't change a thing, I wanted to stand up and applaud at the end of your post. Tirade, my bahooty - yours was a response to a tirade.
                                          It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.