Over the weekend I accompanied a friend on a road trip deep into Kentucky along the West Virginia border. I think I was there to poke her with a stick in case she fell asleep at the wheel. Her horse was in training with a very well qualified endurance rider (if you call riding like a gazillion miles at the FEI level and racing semi broke Monglian ponies qualified) and she was headed down to pick it up.
Here's the truck in a Wendy's parking lot. This was the scenery everywhere.
This was also scenery, this is coal country. The coal moved around via barges on the river and trains that seemed to run all night long.
I got to head out with her on a training ride on one of her 50 miler horses, an adorable grey. He was happy to do his job, surefooted, and easy to rate. He was happy to walk, trot, or gallop and if I asked him to walk up the hill he walked. So many trail and endurance horses are either only happy in front, or in back but he was happy anywhere. Training is important even for the trail, and being able to ask him to not surge up a hill is a sign that someone has put a lot of thought into his training.
Before we headed out she found out I was an eventer.
Ohhhh, so I can do my big hill, it usually scares people but you'll be fine.
I even tried to tell her I was a weanie eventer, but no dice.
I would like to say the scenery on her private property was beautiful but we were going so fast it was pretty blurry. Trail riding in the Kentucky hills is kind of like riding on a roller coaster. You have that long slow climb up the hill (or in our case that long really fast climb) and then you kind of lean back, close your eyes, and wonder how your mistakes in life brought you to these circumstances.
It was actually really fun, I've ridden hills in Southern Indiana otherwise I probably would have curled up into a fetal position and rolled off the side. I started out in horses trail riding so I feel very at home on the trail, for me it's something that is relaxing and fun. In technical terrain you just have to relax and trust the horse to put all of his feet in the right direction and being on an experienced horse I felt at ease.
I have to say that Endurance is probably the closest sport to Eventing. You have to be a little crazy to want to do either sport, and is a snorty little arab fit enough to do 100 miles really much different than a snorty big OTTB fit enough to gallop at 550mpm? I never understand why endurance riders say they are afraid to jump but they have no qualms taking an arabian with questionable brakes 50 miles up the side of a mountain.
I had a great time and I think if I wasn't a weanie eventer I might be a weanie endurance rider.