I've got to stop saying YES! SURE! to people during the dead of winter. It makes me do crazy things like herd cattle or enter an endurance ride.
Last weekend I went with a few friends to an endurance race at Mid West a private trail riding property with trails connecting to the Hoosier National Forest. A place where cell phone coverage has not yet reached.
With showers, a hot breakfast, real toilets, and electric hook ups for the trailer it made our camping trip not so primitive. It was great having heat in the trailer when the night time temps dipped into the lower 30s. Some of the tent campers said they saw snow. Poor tent campers. Wouldn't doubt it, stupid winter that will never end.
They even have stalls for your horses
You can't see it, but there's a campfire burning right behind Annie's stall. Good Annie.
Our "race" wasn't really a race and it wasn't really "endurance" as we were "only" doing 15 miles. The big boys were doing 25 and 50 miles, some of them did 25 on Friday and 50 on Saturday. Because they're nuts.
Endurance starts off like three day eventing. First, you have to present your horse to the vet who takes down vital information on your vet card. This is Annie's vet card for post race but it was the same pre race. She got all "As" except for gut sounds. She's not a big breakfast eater. After the race I got lots of advice like feeding soaked beat pulp the night before and carrying along carrots that were soaked overnight in water and feeding them to her on the trail. After you do get your card you jog for the vet and then if you pass you get to use a grease marker to write your entry number on your horse's butt. Much different from a bridle number.
We didn't go very fast. It had rained very hard over the last several days and some of the trail bottoms had mud up past the horse's fetlocks. We still did quite a bit of trotting. Oh my knees. I didn't want to cause any injury doing something stupid. The terrain was varied, with some flat stretches followed by climbing and descending steep hills. Even a few switchback trails down the sides of ravines. Multiple water crossings, some fairly deep.
It certainly was no Cougar Rock at the Tevis Cup
but it wasn't no central Indiana flatsville.
We even got lapped by the people doing 50 miles. They came cantering by, both horse and rider looking lean and fit like marathon racers. Biothane bridles, endurance saddles, sponges on ropes.
We finished 15 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Not fast by any definition of the word but we weren't last! Getting off to walk Annie over some big rocks and across the finish (she'd already carried my butt far enough) I almost hit the ground, and had she spooked and took off I'd have been left in the dust.
After the ride you have 10 minutes once you cross the finish line to vet in. They take your horse's heart rate and it has to be below a certain number, in our case 60. We came in at 36 which the vet was very complimentary about. They go down the same marks on the card and you have to jog again, no easy feat after 15 miles of posting trot and 2 point up hills. Annie even did the whole ride barefoot all around where most of the other horses there had boots or shoes on, yeah to good feet and great farriers.
Then you take care of your horse and collapse into a pile.
Annie showed zero effects of her ride, and I even got her a massage just to make sure. Wish someone gave me a massage. I got some Aleive.
Would I do it again? Sure. Would I do more miles? No way in heck. We aren't sponge on a rope carrying endurance riders. I did tick one more thing off my horsey bucket list.