In which an entire endurance ride can be seen in just twenty minutes

Endurance 101: a real ride (in 20 minutes)
Some enterprising riders in Texas decided that they were not only going to put on a new ride, they were going to make a little documentary film about it!

This video is just the thing I needed to watch on a gloomy December afternoon here in the Swampland: dirty, happy riders, crew, ride management, vets, and oh-so-many lovely horses in the sunshine of an endurance ride.
Click the logo to watch the video in a new window
I noticed some differences in the Texas ride from the events we hold in our region:

·       Most (nearly all) of the horses in the video are Arabs or half-arabs. (I did see some lovely appaloosas, though). The folks in the video also said something about “all the pretty Arabians”. In the Pacific NW, we have a lot of Arabs, but there are also a lot of gaited horses, some quarter horses , mustangs and appaloosas, and a growing number of standardbreds--plus a few "I don't know what he is, I got him for $50 at the auction last summer" horses.

·       People in the video repeated referred to their event as a "race." Around here, we mostly call them "rides." This may be a cultural difference that can be seen as a contrast between front-running riders (who really are racing) and completion-riders (who mostly aren't).

·       That amazing, charming Texas accent. We mostly don't have  many of those here.  Too bad. 

·       Sunburned faces and tank tops on Memorial Day weekend are not impossible, but are pretty unusual in the Pacific Northwest. 

·       EMT’s are not common in my region (unless they’re on the trail competing with us!).  As some of the riders in the video mention, the primary focus is on the well-being of the horse—technically, you could strap a dead body to the saddle and still earn a completion as long as the horse vetted through okay.

·       Did you notice the fellow running alongside a horse and rider?  That wasn’t part of the endurance ride—that was a Ride and Tie team competing in an event that was held at the same time as the endurance event.  We have RaT’s here; they are extremely cool, but not very common.

·       The heartrate criteria was quoted as “64 beats per minute.”  This is the basic criteria used by AERC, but the heartrate criteria is pretty much always 60bpm here. 

To all the experienced endurance riders reading this:  what similarities did you see between events you attend and this event in Texas?  What was different?

Did you notice the name of the ranch and the names of the people who own the ranch?  Did you notice the similarity between THAT name and MY surname?  Do you suppose they would adopt me?  Just for a few weeks each year in late May?   Me and my non-Arabian horse, perhaps?


  1. It was kinda sad that the RM "bought all new horses" to compete in these races.

    I think Central and Southeast are more competitive than W and PNW. That's just my feeling, though, from an admittedly small sample size of gaited riders. Good to see someone in a tent with a Trails West!

    That video actually made me miss sweltering heat and humidity. That's probably just because it was 5 degrees this morning.

    It was cool to see Darolyn Butler and get a face to go with the name!

  2. FUNDER: IKR? I wonder what was "wrong" with the horses he had. It was also pretty weird to hear people talking about the 2, 4, 8 horses they have for endurance.

    I have ONE horse. Most of the people I know and ride with have ONE horse. A few people I know have ONE horse (aging) plus ONE horse (still young but starting training). I can't think of anybody I know personally who has more than two horses to ride in endurance.

    Even people with a bunch of horses have just one that they use for endurance--cuz, who has time to train them all and keep the dayjob/kids/house above water?

  3. You're right. That was the perfect antidote to a cold day in the NW. :)

    A few thoughts:

    • One thing I really liked was that all the "management" types were in the same, bright-colored shirt. That would make it really easy for new people to spot them if they need help.

    • I don't think I've ever been to a ride with anything close to 200 riders. I think maybe HOTR had over 100 a few years ago? Maybe.

    • What they call "technical" and what we call technical? Way different. Much of the film they showed it looked as smooth and flat as a racecourse. And that was just a leetle baby water crossing. :)

    • It was literally blooming with horse food. You could stop for a bite anywhere.

    • Was that a controlled start? Don't see a lot of those here.

    • Looking at equipment, I saw a mix of treed and treeless, but more "western" leaning styles. Most folks had swells and fenders. It seems like in the NW you see a more even mix of saddlery styles...?

    Oh, and just WATCHING that "milling around before the start" section made me tense. I really need to get over those early morning butterflies!

  4. The biggest ride I've been to was Lake Almanor, which had ~110 starters. It was way too big. Ugh.

    I think most of the Reno-area riders have more than one horse. A lot of them compete two as well. What's the median age of your PNW friends? I'm on the younger end of things - most of the multi-horse riders are at the age where they don't have kids to juggle too. I wonder if that accounts for it?

    Ruth - OMG YES, there was food everywhere! Land of plenty if you're a grass-eater.

  5. @Funder: That's a great question about median age. I wonder if PNER has the stats to figure that out?

  6. Funny you should ask...

    UMECRA is the midwestern sanctioning body for endurance and competitive rides. In this month's newsletter they printed results of a study they did of the average age of the 2011
    Top 10 finishers:

    50 Endurance heavyweight
    46 Endurance lightweight
    58 Competitive heavyweight
    56 Competitive lightweight
    58 Limited Distance endurance

    This is the Top 10, not the age of all riders. Not sure if this means that all the riders median ages are in this range, or just the ones who are Top 10-ing!

  7. @KT—That sort of confirms something I suspected about being really successful at most amateur sports. Once you're over 50, your kids aren't underfoot and (with any luck) you have some disposable income and the free time to spend it.
    I wonder if Troy at AERC would be interested in giving us a chart in EN of the age distribution of members nationwide and/or by region. I know we had that big kerfuffle on ridecamp about attracting new, younger riders, but I'd be curious what the numbers actually show.

  8. Ruth - but national doesn't ask for your age! Just junior/senior status. I agree, it'd be cool if they did...

  9. Yeah, since they don't ask us for our ages, there's no way they could compile over-all statistics. I'm assuming that someone called the Top 10s to ask their ages.

    Brings up one topic that I got SLAMMED on a couple years ago with UMECRA's wonderful addition of the Novice division (that wasn't there when I started competing). My argument was that the age of competitors was rising, people were riding their older horses, or for whatever reason are finding that even 25 miles is too much for them. A novice friend of mine will not ride a 25-miler because once she gets off her horse she cannot get back on and ride again. Yet for 15 miles she's a great competitor!

    I wanted the 15-mile rides opened up so that everyone could run for yearend points (a novice and open division). I called it Limited Distance Competitive. I understand that they are hoping to attract young riders to the novice rides and that they will move up to longer distances.. But fast forward to now and they're considering a rule that will limit the number of years you can compete in this division. It's unfolding as I said -- there's a whole bunch of people who think the 15-mile races are all they can do. So you either LOSE these people, or you create a division for them.

  10. I'm sorry, I hate to burst your bubble but all ranchers with large chunks of easily-rideable land and/or horses have already agreed to adopt me.

    All of them.

    I've been staking them out and hunting them for years, and I am afraid that I am very persistent. Perhaps, if you are very kind to me, I will relent and allow one (ONE.) of my new parents to adopt me a little older sister.

    It really depends on how nice you are.

    Torsair: The disappointment of discovering you've come up with the idea of being adopted by really cool families a couple of years too late.

  11. Ok, so I just lost the entire comment I just sent... I have just found this site and saw the blog with questions on the endurance video. I wanted to give some answers since i am in Central region (Texas) and was at the ride in the video. It is hot and humid so criteria typically is 64 at our rides; of course is 60 at the end of 25 as stated by AERC rules. Most of our rides do have a controlled start. The number in attendance I suppose is a relative figure, but they tend to be fairly large in number; however, have drastically reduced in the last couple of years. I guess we would consider a small ride to be anything under 20 in either a 25 or 50. The 100's are harder to find over 15 riders and oftentimes don't make 10+, just depends on where it is. Oh, the camera crew mostly stuck to the flat, fast areas, so not much hilly areas were viewed, although I am sure it does not compare to the NW region! I would love to go there.. I am originally from CO and miss the cooler, arid climate with mountain scenery. On the multi-horse thing, most riders I know do compete on several horses. I guess it is just because we live in horse country - literally, dubbed "horse country USA" in my area; horse farm after horse farm and just about every third vehicle is a horse trailer. I also compete on multiple horses. In 2010, I conditioned 5 and competed on 4 different horses... and I am a single mom and work a full-time job. It can be done; my motto has always been, "where there is a will, there is a way." I'm not quite as motivated as I was in previous years; age does catch up at some point! LOL But I do have 3 I am conditioning and 2 I am competing for this season. It's just too damn addicting! Just wanted to clarify some questions ya'll had (yes, I put "ya'll" in on purpose)... lmk if anyone has more questions about our area and maybe you'll come visit sometime! :)

  12. On the mileage thing, most rides in Central region do offer 15-mile introductory rides along with the LD and endurance. Oh, also, on the "race" or "ride" - most riders here call them rides, but even I will call it a "race" to non-endurance people just to clarify between going out for a ride and going to an actual event/race/ride. I don't think there is any harm done in calling it a race - most rarely admit they are out for the "kill" but they clearly are out there to win anyway. I personally ride for my horse, but to each his own. That is one of the great things about endurance is that there are many different goals that are attainable and achievable, something for everyone.


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