In which I introduce "Endurance 101": stuff you want to know

The response to yesterday's questions  for experienced, newbie, and non-endurance riders was very I hoped, y'all have plenty of questions about stuff you want to know.

 Therefore, for the remainder of the month of November, I shall devote my attentions to writing some stuff to aid you in your endurance journey (or to start you on said journey, in several cases). 

November is, traditionally, National Novel Writing Month, but this year I figured that I should catch up on some of the non-fiction articles I've promised to Troy at Endurance News and several other editorial-types.  I've already submitted one article and finished another...and writing stuff for the rest of you should keep me busy until the December 1st.  

My goal is to write a bunch of stuff this month that will be immediately useful to people who are interested in endurance but haven't had a bunch of experience (if any) with the sport.  Maybe I will provide enough information to lure a few new people in to try a novice ride or a Limited Distance event.  (Jane?  Laura?  Jametiel? anyone else?).

Truthfully, when I emailed with Troy the list of stuff I can write this month, she asked why I wasn't writing all this stuff as a BOOK.




I....uh....because, I um....


Would you want to read an Endurance 101 book? 

From the last post, I have these topics pulled straight out of the comments:
*  how can I judge speed (and distance) on horseback,  with or without a GPS?

*  how can I get started--what kind of experience is needed to make a good start?

*  how do I deal with idiot horses (my own or those of other people) in a group at the start line?

*  where do I stash my offspring while I'm out riding?

*  forget the kids--can I get a babysitter to help me through the event?

*  conformation?  what are the guidelines for success?

*  how can I monitor my horse's fitness to make sure I'm "pushing", but not too hard?

*  what if I want to try the sport, but I don't have an Arab?

*  are the people nice, even to a total noob?

*  what are the written and unwritten rules?

*  how can I volunteer (at a vet check, perhaps) and learn stuff so I don't die or kill my horse?

*  can I try an "intro" ride so I don't die during my first event?

So here's the big question:
Would you buy a book called Endurance 101: a guide for the first year of distance-riding competitions, ?

If I write it, what do you hope to see in the Table of Contents (in addition to the stuff above)?  

Whaddya think?  Should I write a basic no-jargon guide for people who aren't stupid, but who don't have a bunch of experience with the sport? 

Haiku Farm readers are SMART!

Comment box is open.  Let's hear your ideas! 

(And, uh, if you happen to know a publisher who wants to publish something like this, you'd tell me.  Right?)


  1. I think that would be a fabulous idea! (Although no, I sadly don't have anything more useful to add to that!)

  2. I would read it. Endurance is something I have always wanted to try. The limited distance seems like a great start, not too intimidating. Then comes the question, am I kidding myself? I have gone on plenty of "long" rides but how long is MY version of long? How do I know how far I have traveled is a big question for me because of that. Then again, maybe I should just focus on getting a horse first.

  3. I stumbled across your blog recently and manged to flip through all the old posts. I just want to say I love this blog and all the information/adventures you go on. I only ever done small trail rides and a few speed events. I think it would be fun to volunteer at an event. I have spent over a year working with the California Conservation Corps so I have lots of trail building knowledge, it's neat to see you guys making trails! It can be hard work but very rewarding.

    Barbara - Northern CA next to the OR border

  4. I'd buy it, and I'll see if I can pull together some more coherent questions in the next few days! (I have lots.)

    Actually - hm. Consider this a continuation of my comment on the last post!

    - I've read a lot saying to only do serious trails once/twice a week. So.. what do you do the rest of the week? Especially if your horse is in a stall/paddock?

    - Hill work. I know it's important; what I don't know is what 'hills' are defined as. My experience ends up complicated by doing nearly all our trails in a forest with more inclines than not, but I have no idea what most people think of as hills, either!

    - Camping with the horse. Is it totally unheard of to just tie the horse to the trailer? I've heard that's the case with NATRC rides, but not sure how common that is for LD/endurance. It's neither my trailer nor my horse at this point, and I know her owner doens't have a high-tie or panels.

    - And.. more personally.. what to do about a horse that's not comfortable starting on the trail by herself, but will split off at least somewhat willingly once we're out?

    (I feel like I need to start myself a blog back up for all these questions so I can get more of a sounding board/training journal without clogging up your comments. Hmm..)

  5. NTAT: just tell me how I (and Dom) can convert you to the True Faith of endurance, and we'll consider that YOUR useful addition. >g< Jabby would love it!

    ANON: That's the kind of thing I think I need to write about: "how fast/how far/how long" is really a challenge to judge at first. I can help with that.

    Welcome BARBARA! You live in primo endurance territory, and trail workers are always welcome. Keep in touch, because I'll be writing with you in mind.

    FIGURE: I'm writing for you, also. Here's the quick answer, and I'll provide more detail in later posts: We do "serious" trail work once or twice each week in the off-season, with a lesson or two each week whenever we can manage it. Ramping up to the beginning of ride season, we'll add another, shorter day of trail work if the weather allows. A "long day" is not more than 18 miles or 3.5 hours, and we do those only when we're really seriously conditioning at the beginning of the season. In winter, our trail days are between 7 and 13 miles, not more than 2.5 hours. Swampland weather sucks in winter. Ride for a while, then go for lunch, that's our strategy.

  6. I always wondered about endurance riding. I don't know what the possibilities are here in BC and if my old body is up to it...

  7. Absolutely! I would read that for sure. Another subject that would be helpful- how to find a compatible trail buddy to train with, I'm not sure if that's something you just luck into or if you can actively seek one out!
    Oh, and starting the young horse out in endurance, what things you need to focus on to develop a good mind as well as a fit body.

  8. Absolutely!!!

    I am an Armchair Endurance Rider. I will probably never do Endurance, but I am interested to know the answers to every one of those questions you posted about.

    And I would bet that many other folks are, too, whether they have plans to ride endurance or are just interested in the sport itself and want to know more.


  9. Me gusta.


    Mucho, mucho.

    I would read an Endurance 101 book... but I would especially read it if it had little excerpts from riders about why they choose the sport, how it changes them, etc, etc. I always dug informational books that had a personal side as well.

    PS: New question: Can the very first post explain the absolute basics (like "Limited Distance ride"?) Maybe the different distances, average time it takes to ride each one, different classifications of the riders, essential gear, etc?

  10. Be sure to include a chapter on endurance riding in Germany, how much better that is than in America.

    Srsly though, I'm pondering how on earth someone would start out in the sport if she didn't know anyone who did it.

    The Internet is what helped me get started, cuz I was able to meet riders who were able to take me to my first ride (afterwhich I immediately bought my first truck and trailer and learned how to use them, because I didn't want to depend on other people). But what if as a newbie I hadn't had the means to get a truck and trailer? I would have been so incredibly frustrated, tying to get to rides! Not everyone starting out has the means so there has to be some luck involved in location to other riders. It would be ideal (for people starting out) to live near an endurance riding stable where people pool resources and barn owners understand endurance horsekeeping.

    I suspect that before the Internet, if you didn't know someone personally, you were out of luck.

    You know how Chuck Cowan is my nemesis in CMO? I only succeeded in kicking his butt once? Well I have an endurance nemesis here and I was shocked to hear her talking on the radio recently. They interviewed her because she is the top endurance rider in our state and she bragged how someone in UAE offered her 6 figures for her horse (who Baasha hates). That just did it. I will never kick her butt, but I will ride against her someday, at least. That's the plan. (Imagine an endurance rider who refuses to ever ride alone. Srsly!)

  11. I'd read a book like that! It would prevent me asking 29933838 questions to my endurance friend. I'd only have 222233 questions instead! :-)

    Hmm - to that ToC I would like to see gear, tack recommendations and maybe some training plans - day 1 week one do this, day 2 week 1 do that, etc. Explain intervals and hills and LSD training in detail. Vet checks - what are they looking for, how to cool out quickly, etc.

    The conformation stuff is interesting too me - especially with pictures and/or illustrations of what is good/not so good.

    I wish there were more rides in my area...although it doesn't really matter since horse transportation is a big road block for me to actually get out and try anything.

  12. My first question of the day is: When will it be available?
    In other news, I've done trail crew work around Oregon, Idaho, and Washington (and Vermont, too, but that's a different story) for a combined total 7 seasons, once as a crew leader. I would love to work on trails again, especially if it involved a trail ride and/or hanging out with horse people all day!
    I would also be interested in chapter involving confirmation. I love learning more about how a horse fits a sport, or what a horse needs to fit. I've spent so long looking at one type of horse for one type of work that I'd have to reopen my eyes again!

  13. Thank you for committting to writing these posts. I lost the "show" bug a decade ago and always thought my only interest would be pleasure or recreational riding.
    ....until I started reading about Endurance. The sport really intrigues me enough to the point that I want to try it one day. Unfortunately, I do not have a horse that is physically capable of doing (even a short ride)at this time, but hope to have the money to afford one in the next few years :)
    Until then I am doing what I can to learn about the sport until then :) I am currently looking at volunteering at an endurance ride in my area next summer.
    As far as books go - I have already read a few books about Endurance riding and have enjoyed each and every one of them. Would I read another? Absolutely!
    ...especially anything geared towards newbies!!
    Many of the questions asked already are excellent. Since I am a "list" person I would like a book that can break things down into small, acheivable steps.... Make sure you can do "X" before you try "Y". As one poster said, I am also interested to know what, if any, are different methods to keeping your horse while in camp (not only for Endurance, but because camping is still somethingg I'd like to do with my current senior pony! :-D). I also will be looking for a 2-horse trailer in the next year or two.....What do people look for when seeking out a horse trailer to use for this sport (especially if they may also be using it as a camper for themselves.....)
    Thanks again for writing this -- I look forward to reading your future posts :)

  14. Thanks, I have a facebook do you have one? My email is if you would like to email me.

    I agree with someone about adding tidbits from riders from the beginners to the most experienced.

    How about a chapter written by a vet about what they look for and the gray area of pulling horses.

    A good chapter maybe from a reputable trainer on endurance on how a horse should act for vet checks. And how to achieve the goal.

  15. Aarene--At this point in my life I'm unlikely to take up endurance (but never say never). My two stocky QH type trail horses are very unsuited to it, and neither my son nor I are (at the moment) drawn to large group events. I have to admit, it is the tranquility and quiet as we cruise down the trail taking in the natural world around us that appeals to me most about trail riding, and I fear that a large group and all the rules and forms that go with an organized ride would just destroy my pleasure in the activity. But as someone who does two hour trail rides through the hills on a regular basis, much of the info you would share would be interesting to me.

    I have done much camping with horses, as for many years we took regular pack trips into the Sierra Nevada Mountains (packing ourselves on our own horses), so would be happy to share what I learned doing that.

    As for the publisher, I know people often think that as a published author I can easily put them in touch with the right publisher for their work, but the truth is that mysteries (which is what I write) are a very specific niche, and all the people I know in the publishing biz are involved with mysteries. Maybe you could write an endurance mystery? Just kidding. Actually, its not a bad idea. (Not blowing my own horn or anything, but I did once work for a friend of mine who is a vet at an endurance ride--as a scribe-- just so I could put an endurance ride in my then current novel, "Roughstock". If any of you read it, you can tell me if I got it right or not.)

  16. I think it goes without saying that I'd buy a copy ;) Aarene - I've been wondering how you keep your legged-up horse in shape!

    Figure - Mel did multiple hundreds, including Tevis, with a horse in a paddock. She did serious rides like Aarene says, plus dressage once a week, and light rides if she felt like it - just an easy hour on the trails by her barn. The gold standard is to have your horse on full turnout, but you can do it with a paddock horse.

    lytha - I have a hard time remembering how we did anything before the internet. :)

  17. OK--here is a question I am curious about. Lets say I DID want to take up endurance in a very small way, using the horses I have (all QH ex team roping horses). When we trail ride most of our time is spent in the relaxed walk (moderate to slow) with occasional trots up hills. This suits the horses and us. Our rides average two hours and are almost never more than five miles or so. If we did want to do a formal "ride" is there any niche for us in the sport? Assuming we wanted to use these horses and continue riding in our usual way and not push harder? Are there any people like us doing "baby endurance rides"? (And yes, I am totally ignorant--I absolutely do not know what an "LD ride" is, though I've picked up that its shorter.) And, in your opinion, is there any point to folks who don't want to cover a lot of miles taking up the sport?

  18. I would absolutely buy it. Especially written with your humor. I think every ones ideas are great, I would also like a confirmation section, expected horses behavior, anecdotal stories are always great. I also agree with the comment about maybe a section by a veterinarian. Can't wait to hear more.

  19. Haha Aarene -- Get me a truck, a trailer, and a sponsor and we'll see what we can do about Jabby's utterly non-endurance brain, LOL!

  20. All standardbreds have endurance brain. They just need to find out how to use it in endurance situation ;)

  21. I didn't get a chance to post on the previous entry, but enough other smart people asked my questions! I would LOVE your book. I was given about 15 years of Endurance News, have read Going the Distance and many others, but your perspective answering the "real" questions would be awesome. Wish I knew a publisher!

  22. YES. Write the book, and put my name down, I'm holding pen and checkbook.

    I am highly lure-able given you answered my most pressing questions
    1. Can I have a babysitter for me?
    2. What if I think I'm gonna die 2 miles in?
    3. We like you, we really like you...even if we're in a hurry

    Whoops, one more question, is there an elder age limit (for the horse) as long as said horse is sound and fit? Is eating and trotting at the same time allowed?

  23. I vote for a book. I did a LD race 5 years ago and knew NOTHING other than the ability of my horse and how much work we'd put into training. Trail etiquette, pacing, what to do for vet checks, what not to do for vet checks, were foreign to me. I had two people who were angels and helped out, and everyone else treated me poorly. I believe your book would rectify this situation for any other newbies in the future!


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