In which many riders are also readers, so here's a book review!

Have you been wondering what to read now that you've finished reading Endurance 101?

Here's a suggestion:

ISBN 0-525-24845-5

Pacific Northwest region rider and author Karen Paulo (now Bumgarner) recently announced that she is working on a revised edition of her classic American's Long Distance Challenge: the complete guide to the sport of endurance and competitive riding (1990).   

It's been a long time since I read the first edition, so I tracked down a copy (yay, public library!)  and read it.  

The first thing I notice is the abundance of photos. There are many horse breeds represented in the photos--not just grey Arabs, but also plenty of Appaloosas, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, gaited horses and even (page 16) a Standardbred!  Photos also clearly illustrate stages of the vet check, scenes around camp, and trails all over the United States.  The captions are clear and concise.

The book is well-organized, with a good index in the back.  The text is more detailed than Endurance 101, and is an excellent resource for experienced endurance riders as well as beginners with a long attention span or a long winter season in which to read the book.  

Of course, it's always interesting to look at a book that is nearly 25 years old to see what has changed.  Most obvious is the lack of helmets.  Very few, if any, of the riders pictured in this book are wearing helmets because at the time it was written most people didn't wear them!  I am sure that this will be different in the modern photos that Karen adds to the revised edition.

I noticed that there have been other, sometimes major, changes in acceptable "best practices" for horse care since this book was published.  For example, endurance vets now strongly encourage much more rest for horses after competition.  When this book was written, 3 or 4 days pasture rest was considered sufficient time off.  Now, it's more common to allow a day or two off for every ten miles traveled--usually at least a week of leisure following each major event.  The practice of giving tired horses unlimited access to food (especially beet pulp) and water is relatively new as well.  These changes and many others will certainly be addressed in the new book.

The strength of the 1990 edition, which I hope remains unchanged in the new version, is the sense of historical connection that the author brings to the topic.  She has been an active competitor in the sport for many years, and her experiences and stories and photos from earlier days are wonderful, adding a vital color and shine to her book.

America's Long Distance Challenge (1990 edition) is out of print and sometimes hard to find.  If you want to read it and your local library doesn't own a copy, ask them to inter-library-loan it from a library system that does own it.  I'll be sure to announce the availability of the new edition here...and I plan to ask my library to buy several copies of the new edition, too!  


  1. The revision will retain the history and the pioneers of our sport. Thank you for the wonderful review!

  2. It's been the distance rider's "Bible" for many years - full of good information & where I got my yearn to ride endurance! :-)

  3. Love that book, particularly as you say for the historical connection. It was my bible when I was riding in the 90s. You'd have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. I need to add your book to my collection, too!

  4. inter-library loan. wow, what a far-away concept in a place where i've never been in a library (because i don't think they exist here, but i'm told they do).


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