In which Endurance 101 addresses the care of a good crew

Endurance 101:  Be kind to your CREW

A Song for The Crew!  with apologies to Sir Paul McCartney
(to the tune of “When I’m 64”)

When I get tired, starting to stare
Many miles from now
Will you still be listening when I start to whine
Mend my bridle with baling twine?

If I'd stay out ‘till quarter to three
A hundred miles (or more!)
Will you still lead me
Will you still feed me
At mile ninety-four?

(ooooooh) You'll be tired too
And if you say the word
I might crew for you!

I could be handy driving the rig
When you start to yawn
You can mend my breeches by the fireside
Early  mornings, go for a ride
Trotting my horse out, while I go pee--
Who could ask for more
Will you still lead me
Will you still feed me
At mile ninety-four.

Every summer we can go to ridecamp 
At Trout Lake or Nile, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
(oooooh) Bandages on my knee
Ice pack, Vet wrap, tape!

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
stating point of view
indicate precisely what you mean to say
yours sincerely, trotting away
Here is my entry—fill out the form,
Mine forever more
Will you still lead me
Will you still feed me
At mile ninety-four?

Although a crew isn’t necessary to compete in long-distance rides, sometimes you might get lucky and some wonderful person will offer to “crew” for you. 

So, what, exactly does a crew do?

A “crew” (which can be one person or several) comes to an event to help the rider get through it.  Crew are often family members—parents, children, spouses, or siblings—but they can also be friends or even new acquaintances who are interested in learning more about the sport of endurance.  Sometimes crew are experienced equestrians, and sometimes they’ve never been near a horse. 

If you are clever and plan ahead, it’s possible to make crew of all skill levels feel helpful, welcome and valuable. 

The most important thing to remember is this:   BE KIND TO YOUR CREW!  

The crew can do almost anything that will help the rider in camp and/or in a vetcheck.  Crews are not allowed to help you on the trail, however.

Depending on the age, sturdiness, and skills of your crew, you might ask them to do any of the following:
·       Wave and clap and cheer as you enter the vet-check.
·       Meet you at the in-gate to help you cool the horse.
·       Take your horse through the vet’s evaluation.
·       Trot out your horse for the vetcheck.
·       Act as a “hitching post” while you run to the porta-pottie.
·       Care for your horse during the vetcheck, providing him with access to food and water. 
·       Care for you during the vetcheck, handing you food and water.
·       Re-stock the saddle and packs with water, food, glowsticks, etc.
·       Perform needed repairs on tack.
·       Assess the health/comfort needs of the rider: do you need more fluids?  More food?  A nap?  A bandaid?  A benedryl?  A clean pair of socks or a dry jacket or a warmer sweater or more sunscreen? 
·       Keep you informed as to the behavior of your horse:  is he eating/drinking/resting normally? 
·       Try to anticipate the needs for the next leg of the journey:  will you need a raincoat, or a cold drink, or a flashlight?
·       Keep an eye on the time so that you and your horse are ready to exit on-time if appropriate.
·       Provide cheerful company to you and possibly to other tired, cranky, DIMR riders. 
·       Take photos.
·       Wave and clap and cheer as you leave the vetcheck for on the next stretch of trail.
·       Meet you at the next checkpoint and do it all over again.

Crewing is often hot (or cold), dusty (or muddy), and thankless…unless YOU MAKE SURE TO THANK YOUR CREW.  One of the effects of DIMR is that riders will often lose basic politeness skills learned in kindergarten.  Make an effort to be a polite, kind rider. 

Here is a basic list of things you may want to provide for your crew:
·       A folding camp chair
·      A cooler of food/beverages meant for them, not for riders
·       A paperback book or two
·       Sunscreen or a raincoat or a lightweight fleece blanket (or all three, depending on the weather!)
·       Disposable camera
·       Map of the ride and trail description page (if available); write your estimated time of arrival for each checkpoint, and a few notes about which supplies you think you will need there.
·       An introduction to the ride manager, the timer, and/or a few friendly people who will be working in the vetcheck. 

If ride management provides a meal to riders, ask to purchase meals for your crew members.  It’s a kindness to give a present of some sort to your crew if you are able: a little gift from the tack vendor if there is one in camp, or an extra ride t-shirt if any are available.  You can also stop on the drive home to buy your crew a nice meal to express your thanks.

Here’s some advice for new crew:
DO:                 ask the rider to spend time the day before the ride to list the kinds of things she would like you to do on ride day
DON’T:          ask the rider to make a list of stuff 5 minutes before the start time

DO:                 take photos of the horse and rider
DON’T:          post photos of the rider covered in electrolyte-and-mud warpaint on Facebook

DO:                 hand the rider a sandwich
DON’T:          hand the rider a sandwich and a can of V-8 and two bottles of water and a clean pair of socks and a flashlight while she’s still holding onto the horse’s leadrope.

DO:                 offer to dump a bottle of water on the rider’s head in hot weather
DON’T:          dump liquid on a rider before she’s had a chance to pee

DO:                 try to anticipate the rider’s needs
DON’T:          worry if “mindreading” is outside your skill set

DO:                 speak clearly
DON’T:          holler

DO:                 offer to electrolyte the horse when the rider is getting ready to leave the vetcheck
DON’T:          give electrolytes to the horse without checking with the rider first

DO:                 feel free to offer help to a crew-less rider when your rider is still out on the trail
DON’T:          give away all your rider’s food and warm horse blanket if your rider is going to need that stuff later!

DO:                 ask for help from other non-busy crews if you need it
DON’T:          flip out if your normally-polite rider is so focused on her ride and her horse that she forgets to smile and say “thank you.”

DO:                 your best
DON’T:          worry about not knowing everything!

DO:                 Take care of yourself, too.  If the heat bothers you, find some shade (or make some shade using a horse blanket and the vet’s truck).  If you are prone to sunburn, wear a hat and use sunscreen.  If you chill easily, pack a thermos of hot coffee or tea to drink while you wait for your rider.

DO:                 Chat with ride management, other crew, and other volunteers.  They are very nice people!

DO:                 Have fun!


  1. You had me roaring through this. And I will be singing 'Mile 94' all night.

  2. LOVE the song! Wish I had a crew. I've made G promise, several times, that he will crew for me if I ever ride Tevis. Riding cav builds character, right?

  3. in FEI rides crew is allowed to help on the trail. this is why they follow the riders in cars. crew members run alongside the horses for riders who do not stop trotting, and then go collect the empty bottles the riders throw to the ground.

  4. I think you did Sir Paul proud! Love all that I am learning about your spot.

  5. Aarene, you have a real talent for writing song lyrics--that was great. And I am learning a lot about endurance. Thanks.


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