In which the "mentoring" aspect of EDRA is examined - guest post

As a follow up to my previous post about EDRA, the new endurance riding organization starting up here in the Pacific Northwest, I had more questions, especially about the “mentoring” aspect.

I’m a big believer in mentoring new endurance riders.  I wrote a whole book about endurance to act as a kind of “paper mentor” for those who need basic information about the sport so they could keep themselves and their horses happy and healthy out on a long trail. 

So, I wanted to know more. 

Jennifer, one of the founding members of EDRA, kindly answered my questions.  


I stole all the photos (below) from Facebook (without permission) to add some "faces" to the list of "founding members."

How will mentoring work within EDRA?  
First off, being a mentor or being mentored is a benefit of EDRA membership, so first step would be to become an EDRA member. Once the web page is up, folks will be able to join online.

Second, we have a group of mentors (drawn from the founders of EDRA) who have come forward and offered to share what has helped them and hindered them along the way to becoming the endurance riders that they are.  They each have different areas of expertise and different ways of approaching the sport. They do have years of varying experience to draw from. 

Ron, Lois, Max, and Darlene 

On the web page we’ll have autobiographies posted so folks can review and see who might be a good fit for their interests. Prospective mentees will also be asked to submit a short biography and state their goal(s), strengths and challenges. It will be up to the mentee to select a mentor and contact them, but mentors may also decide to jump in and assist as well. I will be monitoring and checking to make sure that teams are forming and no one is missed. That said, it is up to the individual teams (that is what i would call the mentor/ mentees) to come up with how they would like to interact: email, riding together, phone, video, whatever works best for that team.

What are the (formal?) expectations that EDRA has for mentor/ mentee relationships?  

I hesitate to say we have any “formal” expectations.  I guess the expectations are that you will get out of this relationship what you put into it.

That said, I know that all of us want people to gain confidence and achieve, or get a better pathway to, their goal.  In the grand scheme of things it would be fabulous if the mentee could move into the mentor position at some time.  Sort of like “paying it forward.”

Are the members of EDRA required to participate in a mentor relationship? 

From the EDRA Rules: “The EDRA Mentor Program is designed to provide riders of all levels of experience the opportunity to teach and learn from others’ experiences. The EDRA Mentor program will:

  •        Connect every new rider with no distance experience to an experienced mentor
  •        Connect EDRA members who want to participate in the mentor program with mentors
  •        Recruit mentors for riders.

Tiffany and Kathleen 

Are the mentors needed by all riders new to the sport? or will there be mentoring for experienced riders facing new challenges-say starting a new horse or riding in a new region?  

As stated above, every new rider with no distance experience will be guided to pairing up with a mentor.

And yes, experienced riders are eligible as well. l think that a person can learn something from anybody, a new way of tying a rope, a different way to load syringes, a new game to play with your kids at mile 37…and so on. If you look at it that way yes, mentors can be a benefit to all rider/ horse teams. We just want to be there if you do have questions. There will be mentoring available for ALL riders: new horse, new location, old horse with young rider, how do go farther and faster safely: all riders are welcome. Oh, and new ride managers too!

What are the goals of mentoring? can goals be customized for each mentor/mentee pair?  

The overarching goal of the Mentoring Program is stated in our tag line: We want to help people Start Ready and Finish Proud.

Sue and Dennis

That means doing whatever it takes to produce happier and healthier equine and rider teams. Goals won’t be “customized” which sort of sounds like someone will be assigning them. We will be asking all mentees to be pretty clear about what their goal(s) is/are. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s hard to know when you’ve gotten there—or if you’re off the trail in the weeds somewhere!

How will the mentor relationships be evaluated?  

There is to be no formal evaluation, the proof will be in the pudding.  We will ask for the mentors and mentee to be candid as they go through the process so that if we need to change mentors we can do so.  

What else do readers need to know?

The mentor program is happening because there is void to fill. Our equines do what we ask them to do, some because they love to go, some because they are pleasers and some because that is job that we have chosen for them.  Endurance is not an easy sport. There are so many things to learn: feeding, feet, conformation, trailering, and strategy, just to name a few.  The more resources you have to learn from, the faster you can learn to do better for and by your equine partners. And really, that’s what it’s about—doing what’s best for them. We want to make that journey a little easier!

After Jennifer had answered my first batch of questions, I had more:

What about the new (or not-so-new) rider who already knows everything?  

Aarene’s note: We've all seen this before.  Maybe it's a rider who rode Tevis in the 1970's. Maybe it's a rider who comes to endurance from a very successful stint in show jumping, or team roping.  Maybe it's the rider who bought a "made" endurance horse, so she "doesn't need to know anything, because the horse is already trained."   Maybe it's a person who read a book and is therefore an expert.  Maybe it's a person who is just always right…. 

If a rider is new to distance riding, they will for sure have a mentor connected with them. It’s a condition of membership. If that’s unacceptable to them then EDRA does not have much to offer and they should not join. If it’s someone who has tons of miles and thinks they know everything…well, we can’t do much about that except offer guidance and support. Mentoring for high mile folks is optional.

Sandy and Guy 

The mentors you have already identified (i.e. the founders of EDRA) are awesome.  What process will you use to identify more qualified mentors as the organization grows? 

Aarene’s note: Sometimes a person can have a bucket ton of miles and heaps of national awards, including FEI, and still be an idiot. I won't name names.  She doesn't live in the Pacific Northwest, anyhow.  Theoretically, EDRA will eventually get so big that you won't know everyone by name or reputation, so what happens then?

Funny, it’s been my experience that most riders who want to take the time to share their experience and really MENTOR are usually pretty smart riders. It will take time and commitment to be an EDRA mentor. It’s not for everyone. Good mentors come in all shapes and sizes and colors…we will ask what each mentor wants to contribute and assess needs from that point forward.

Aarene's note:  OKAY READERS, now it's your turn.  Comments?  Questions?  Thoughts?  Opinions?

The comment box is wide open and waiting.

COMING SOON:  What will EDRA mean for ride managers?


  1. What if you aren't a goal oriented person? As far as my endurance riding goes my goals are being met. My goal is to go out, have fun, and finish with a happy and healthy horse. I like to learn, but I learn best from experience. Each ride a I take away a little bit more education. I will ask for advice but I'm not a big fan of the "structured" mind set of the mentoring program. For example, I don't know Aarene very well beyond waving "hi" at rides, asking her to hold my mare while I use the porta potty or the internet. BUT I know if I had a question or concern or wanted help with something I could absolutely ask her for advice. She's an open helpful person. I am a common sense, practical person, whose comfortable with who I am and where I am in life. I don't feel the NEED to have a mentor. Do I think I know everything absolutely not. Am I bristling with questions about endurance and how to further my goals that are already being met? Not really. Are there 100 different ways to do the same thing? Yes there are, but that doesn't mean I need to change what I am already doing when my horse and I are happy and healthy. Am I willing to help out others? Absolutely but I'm not going to push my ideas and experiences on someone unless they ask for it. I'm a shy person, its something I am working on, but if someone asks for my input, I will provide it. What worries me about the mentoring program is that it will push the idea that everyone can be in everyone else's business whether they want it or not. Yes I know it states that riders with experience aren't mandatory to have a mentor.

    But what number of miles constitutes someone to have "experience"? What about experience that is outside endurance and is just common sense horse keeping? For example, I have had horses my whole life, I have ridden or dabbled in most disciplines. I knew a lot about them BEFORE I rode an endurance race. Is that experience to be negated because it's not quantifiable? I'm only 28, more than once I've had my age call into question my knowledge. How can I know when I'm only 28? Well 24 of those years were spent with horses almost everyday doing a variety of things. I have had weekly lessons from 4 years to 13 years and again from 20 to 28 (had a break for financial constraints). I will always have riding lessons while I can afford it, because you can never stop learning. Any trainer I have though will always be striving to better educate themselves while they educate me. Are the mentors going to be doing that? Are mentors going to me mentoring mentors (say that 3 times fast). Or can we just call it friends out on the trail helping each other out? If its going to be mandatory there needs to be a better way to make a guideline and who is where in their endurance career.

  2. You make excellent points, Courtney. I hope that some of the EDRA founders will stop by and answer your questions!


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