Thursday, January 24, 2013


I've learned long ago that if there is anything you do in your life, you should have purpose to do it; otherwise it's just a waste of your time. So, I've been pondering my riding "goals" for some while. I mean let's face it, learning to ride to swing a sword or shoot an arrow can only really be handy in a few situations: zombie apocalypse or medieval battle field/tournament. Over the holidays, I was watching a lot of Heartland and the first episode of season 4 (Homecoming) inspired me to do more research about the various equine sporting events in existence.

I was 8 or so, when my parents sent me to riding camp at Claireville Ranch over a few summers. I learned to ride western on an Appaloosa horse. I rode independently at the lope, trot and turning, stopping etc. Since it was a day camp, we also had regular trail rides that were typical trail rides where no rider experience is necessary and the horses are happy to follow their buddy in front. It's like getting into a car with a mind of its own; and you'll probably spend more time trying to stop him from eating, than going anywhere. I don't have any appetite for this type of riding anymore.

While the Heartland episode featured Cross Country (which I also find incredibly exhilerating), I stumbled across another equine sport: endurance riding; and came to realize that it tests rider and horse teams on many levels. You must know how to ride at varying gaits for extended periods of time while evaluating terrain and your horse's endurance levels throughout the course, to be successful. Endurance riding is a timed event where the primary measurement for success is a fast time; it's like a running marathon on horse-back.

The history surrounding the development of endurance riding as a competitive sport started in the United States based on European cavalry and breeding program tests. It became a formal sport in 1955, organized by Wendel Robie and a group of equestrian riders who rode from the Lake Tahoe area across the Sierra Nevada Range, to Auburn in less than 24 hours; following the historic Western States Trail. This is currently known as the Tevis Cup and is the most difficult of any 100-mile ride in the world because of the terrain, altitude and temperatures.

I found this video online which gives you an idea about what this mighty sport would entail for its athletes: both rider and horse.

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