Friday, May 1, 2015

Endurance Reflections- Closing the Chapter

Sometimes, before you move forward, you have to take a look at where you have been ,  how you got to where you are today and what it all means.

I have to tell you, I previously wrote this long post that reflected on what this Endurance journey has been about for me,  my reasons for not meeting the goals I once set out to meet , the various derailments along the way and  blah blah blah.. but the more I read the draft, the more I thought.. Why does all that crap matter? It's all documented here on this damn blog anyways.  My readers already know. Why rehash this thing? 

So instead, I opted to make this short and sweet as possible.

I haven't been an AERC member since 2012 and that was also the last time I did any competitive rides. (Holy cow, has it really been that long?)  Just that fact alone speaks volumes. 
Since 2008, I have been chasing the sport with little success of ever meeting my goal to ride a 50 or a 100. I was able to complete several LD's all of which were fun, challenging and rewarding, but longer distances have remained just out of reach. Endurance has been like writing that novel that I keep saying 

......................."someday I will finish this thing"

Eight years and still not a single 50 , much less a 100 miler.  Pathetic! 

I know there are other endurance riders out there that have to balance all the same things I do. I know I am not unique. Lots of you have those things called full time jobs, a home and property to maintain, other horses, other interests, family, and everyday life and yet, so many of you seem to  somehow manage to train , attend rides and continue to enjoy  the sport. 
Honestly I don't know how but I would listen if someone wanted to let me on their secret. 

What I kept running into was that the training schedule to condition left NO TIME for anything else because I was too busy catching up on EVERYTHING else that stacked up when I was riding, like errands, laundry, lawn and garden upkeep, housecleaning, etc and when I did get to a point where I thought my horse might be ready.. the closest ride was a full day's drive away.

Logistics alone tell my story.

All the work and time to get ready for a ride that was at the very least a 5 hour  (more  often times an 8-10hr)  trailer ride away, (mucho fuel costs) , then.. 
  • Find someone to stay at the house to farm sit for the weekend, (another $40 per day)
  • Take at least 1 or 2 vacation days just to travel to ride and get home 
  •  Entrance fees to attend the ride 
  • Food expenses 
  • Sometimes a Kennel stay for the dogs depending on the ride , another $35 per day
(*the hubby could stay home, negating the need for a house sitter,  but I don't like to go that far from home hauling horses alone.. Just kind of a thing for me) 

I wondered... Is this really what it takes??? How is this fun?? This feels like a second job that doesn't pay very well. 

 In the end, I realized it was a path I wasn't enjoying. I wasn't able to compete,  much less find enough time to condition to get myself ready to compete. 

I realized that there two things that would  have to change in order to revisit the sport in any seriousness and neither of those are changing at this point.
1. Work- get to where I only work part time (maybe in the next 5 years if I stay on track) 
2. Relocate - find a place that allows more months of riding weather and maybe somewhere that allows me to have more convenient access to trails, like close by home (not dirt roads either). 

So there you have it,  it's time to close the Endurance Chapter.. for now.. 

The only caveat to that is riding someone else's already conditioned horse if they need a rider, then I would be happy to help. I am leaving but I am not leaving the sport mad. 

Forging Ahead

The next chapter is this jumping thing. I have been dabbling in the jumping for a couple of years but only halfheartedly because I didn't really have a horse for it. I bought Otto as a future prospect  and I couldn't afford yet another horse that would allow me to ride now. Not with four of them already in the pasture. 
Finally, I just decided I was going to ride the horse we had that had the best potential, Brego,  and see if I could make it work.  As it turns out, it's working. I am having fun. I can ride 2-3 times a week at home for an hour and get something accomplished and not be running my tail off. If I decide to compete again, there are any number of shows and events close by to keep me occupied. 

I finally found a local trainer that I am clicking with and just locked myself into a committed lesson package for the next 10 weeks. We already started and she has us doing things I never thought we would get done , like jumping our first  2'3 Oxer !!  Our first lesson was hard work and we were both a sweaty mess by the end of it but it was a blast. I am totally hooked.

I don't know where this adventure is taking us but I am enjoying the ride. Better yet,  I am no longer stressing myself out over getting enough ride time or traveling for hours to a competition just to make it feel like my time training was worth something. 

In closing

To my readers , those ones that might still be following along on this blog, Thank you  for your commitment. There are many other blogs out there that are much more interesting and better written than mine will ever be but  I have truly enjoyed getting to meet  you all (virtually) and have enjoyed your comments more than you know.  Going forward, I won't have much to share that has anything to do with Endurance related ride stories. You might see the occasional  trail ride post as I will still be getting out for those . More than likely  I will do a few posts on this jumping thing, or maybe I will just start a whole new Blog about that journey. (Not sure yet.)  Either way, I hope you all continue to check in every so often !  I will continue to live vicariously through all your ride stories until the time comes when I can get back to endurance myself.

Happy Trails! 


Mel said...

Looking forward to the jumping stories!

One of the major factors we look at when relocating is the availability of endurance rides and runs near there. Those two sports are incredibly important to me and if I didn't have options at were within a couple of hours, it wouldn't happen. Being single was the only way I could swing not having local trails to condition on and now that I'm married etc I'm incredibly grateful for home trails, while still living In an area with close rides. I don't ride much more than you, but these factors are what makes a difference between endurance being possible and endurance not being possible.

So I don't have any secrets to share, except that you've already done the most important thing. Reassessed your goals in light of what you can actually accomplish and are taking advantage of what is available to you in your area. Kudos.

Dom said...

All of this resonates with me. People keep asking if I'm looking for an endurance horse now that Ozzy is retired, and the honest answer is NO. I do NOT have the time or money to condition and compete a horse of my own. With two dogs and two horses at home, the animal sitting bills added up SO fast. Like you, I didn't want to leave for the whole weekend alone, so leaving Mike behind was not an appealing option. Work, bills, and other interests pretty much make it unfeasible to compete a horse of my own any time soon. Thankfully, catch riding has been a wonderful alternative for me. Someone else ships the horses. Often, someone else pays the entry fee. On rare occasions, I get lucky enough to actually get paid to ride! I get to bring my dogs AND my crew. I don't have to condition or board or feed the horses. I get to do more rides than ever before, without the cost or headache. I am gradually moving towards my ultimate goal... doing a 100. I have been very lucky to find the generous owners and wonderful horses that I have. If it wasn't for them, I would probably be in the exact same boat you're in. I hope that you WILL be able to ride some other horses during your hiatus from the sport. In the mean time, I hope you will enjoy all the other wonderful things life has to offer right now!

Jonna said...

@ Mel- We hope to change our geographic location in the next year or two because of our horse habit. It comes down to the hubby finding an available teaching job in his area of study , in a school that is a fit, in an area that we can afford and like.. and actually getting an offer. He has a great position now so it's hard to replicate that. As winter moved into spring and I started figuring out what I wanted my summer to look like it became clear. When I finally made the decision, it was like a total relief. I guess I had to give myself permission to just move on!

@Dom- that is the most fortunate situation for you! I am glad it has worked out for you. I know there are plenty of riders who have 2-3 horse that they like to keep conditioned. I plan to enjoy my summer . Already been in fact and getting time to diversify my "fun" time!

CG said...

I understand where you are coming from! My work schedule has gotten so rotten that I'm having trouble finding time to ride :(

No harm in doing something else for a bit, and jumping is fun!!

We are hoping to relocate as well, and one of the primary things on my list is some endurance rides w/in a reasonable distance and somewhere I can ride from home!!!

I hope you will keep your blog, I enjoy reading about all your horse adventures.

irish horse said...

I think your jumping adventures have been fun to read about, and isn't that what it is all about? Each of us finding our passions. I admit I waver on this endurance tyhing, sometimes I just like a good plain non-adventurous trail ride.

But whatever you choose, I'll read along! I say keep this blog, as a chronicle of the whole adventure that any horse activity entails. That is why I liked that you call it a new chapter. Who knows what the next will be? The whole book tells the story.

And for updates on adorable Otto!

Jonna said...

@CG- Thanks, sounds like we have the same goals! Thanks for continuing to read and following along!

@Irish Horse- Your absolutely right.. it is about the adventure and life is ever evolving. Ofcourse, Updates on Otto will be forthcoming - he is too photgenic to forget that!! (and naughty) Thanks for reading and following as well!