In which it's not easy being green, but this year it might be more fun!

For years, AERC (the national organization of endurance riders) and PNER (the Pacific Northwest regional organization) has been moaning about dropping enrollment, worrying about seeing fewer participants at rides, and generally fretting that we aren't attracting and retaining more new members.

Whatever shall we do?  said the various Boards and organizing groups.  When new riders show up, all they know is that Hidalgo movie, plus whatever some yabbo at the feed store told them.  New riders are ignorant and dangerous and scary--and we want them to be happy and knowledgeable and bring properly trained and conditioned horses to camp. 

I waited twelve years for somebody to write a book about endurance. Websites are great, but when I was starting, there wasn't a way to consult the internet while packing the horse trailer.  And besides, I'd rather read a book than go hunting through vast stacks of advice (good and bad) from Facebook pages or the old Ridecamp archives.

When the editor of Endurance News suggested that I write "the book," I was flabbergasted.

Then, I wrote it.

So, that was a good thing.

But lately in the Pacific Northwest, there's another thing.

A new thing.

A good thing.

A group of riders that self-identifies as newcomers to the sport.

They don't worry too much about if LD is "really" endurance.  They don't diss the tack choices, the breed choices, or the clothing choices of each other.  They just want to get out there with a horse and try.  They are bringing other new riders into the sport, and encouraging each other to try new stuff.

I like the attitude.  I like it a lot.

They call themselves the GREEN BEANS, and they've got a Facebook discussion and support group to help each other.

The Beans invite experienced riders to participate as mentors (online and on-the-ground).  They cheer for each other, and they help new riders feel less alone.  Via the FB page, members organize training rides and match up green beans with local mentors.

Green Beans often ask for advice on a specific topic or situations, and they offer each other their own common sense solutions.  Some Beans are proficient in other equestrian sports but newcomers to endurance.  Others are endurance riders with thousands of miles who are bringing in a new horse.  Still others are brand-new to equestrian life entirely.

The discussions are kind and supportive, informative and helpful.

They post photos of themselves and each other.

They've even created a Distance Derby for themselves to encourage more time in the saddle.

All are welcome, even riders who aren't in the Pacific Northwest (but if you're outside the area, maybe consider starting a Green Bean group in your own region instead?)  Here's the link to the PNER Green Bean Facebook page.

And at the PNER Convention at the end of the month, the Green Beans are planning a bunch of get-togethers.  You just know it's going to be fun.

I'll be there.  Maybe you too?


  1. (The FB page link is broken.)

    But what a neat idea! The catch, I think, is making those first few connections...that seems to be the hardest part coming in from the outside world. Did these guys do that online initially, or...?

    1. Thanks, Hannah--I fixed the link.

      There was some muttering on the "regular" PNER Facebook page about a need for a place (real or virtual) for new riders to meet up and talk about their specific issues. Experienced rider Sharalyn Hays grabbed the idea and created the Green Bean page, and invited people to join.

      Those Beans invited friends, and those friends invited friends, and now the group is up to 123 members!

  2. I'm still shocked at how much the page has taken off. I was only trying to save others from what I experienced when starting out the sport (hint: it wasn't pretty... I got DQ'd because I had no idea how to do the vet check in the middle hahaha). I think there are SO many people who want to give it a try, and I'm just trying to get them out there to support the sport I LOVE. :)

  3. Thanks for the shout-out of our very humble little page!! I'm so excited that people are finding it useful and inviting :)

  4. Great idea! Helps with the motivation too!

  5. Thanks for the share! As a definite endurance green bean this sounds like a great group. Also, I was wondering about the convention and trying to decide if I should attend since I've never been. Thoughts?

    1. TBA: COME TO CONVENTION!!! It's the best money you will spend all year to learn about the sport!

  6. So far I've dipped my pinky toe in to the idea of endurance riding by following your blog. Then I think I sunk in up to my ankle when I preordered your e-book. But still feeling incredibly shy about taking the next step. Now I find out about the Green Beans. Oh heavens, you keep removing all hurdles. You are relentless!

    1. Ack, Judith, you've discovered my nefarious plan to recruit all brave equestrians to the True Faith of Endurance Riding.



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