Tuesday, April 6, 2021

2021 Foxcatcher Endurance

This past weekend, I finally got to dip my toes in endurance riding after many, many years of trying to get started in the sport. 

Those who have been reading along for awhile may remember that I boarded at an endurance barn about 5 years ago with the intention of getting Quest and me going in the discipline. Unfortunately an injury sidelined us and put a temporary pause to those competitive dreams. The downtime in between was not wasted though. I did a lot of catch riding and trail ride-alongs with different endurance folks across the US from Texas to California. In my travels, I got hands-on exposure to the usual things like conditioning schedules, tack setups, elyting protocols, hydration but also most importantly, I began to really think and piece together what I valued and wanted from the sport because....it is frankly quite expensive and so much goes into even just getting to the ride, let alone completing and finishing in Top 10 or best condition.  

At the end, after all the thinking and despite the numerous heartbreaking setbacks, my determination to give endurance an honest try never waned. My goal is still competing with Quest or another future mount but I recently was given an opportunity to partner up with a little Arabian mare named River for the Foxcatcher Endurance ride and jumped at the chance. 

The week before the ride, my husband and I had a tall order of packing for the trip- not just my tack, but also everything we needed for an overnight stay away from home with Caleb. I did wonder how my little guy would do on the road trip and if this experience would bode badly for future family adventures. However I'm happy to say my little boy was so well-behaved and only badly fussed when he really needed something (namely his meals).  

A completely packed car, hitting the road
Foxcatcher is held at Fair Hill NRMA, which is the same location for the Chesapeake CTRs that I did a catch-ride years ago. It was really nice to revisit the trails again after so much time away. The weather was forecasted to be bright and clear but early morning at the start was wind swept and frigid. I was glad we had hotel accommodations for the night before so that my husband and son had a place to stay out of the cold until the day warmed up. 

All tacked up and waiting for our group to start

I was instructed by River's owner to ride with two of her other horses and to stay together as a group. Asides from our group helping a rider catch her loose horse on trail within 1 minute of the ride start, the first 15 mile loop was uneventful. At the hold, River vetted through fine though had some bad groundwork attitude issues. We were watered, fed, elyted, tack and ready to go in time after the 45 minute hold. Unfortunately the two other horses in our little group with were pulled at vet check so River and I had to ride with a different rider group. Then one of the horses in that new group was dealing with some cold cramp lameness, it eventually resolved with no lasting problems thankfully. When we finally left camp with the group for the second loop, it was nearly 30-45 minutes later than the time on our card allowed, setting back our pace for the last 10 miles. 


River was game to go and we could have easily separated from the pack and moved out on our own to finish within ride time but I had to adhere to the owner's instructions. As a result while River and I technically "completed" the ride, we ended up finishing overtime. It was a bit of a bummer but I had a healthy, sassy horse and did my first ever 25 mile endurance ride 5 months post- pregnancy...not too shabby!

With so many variables and the pandemic still on-going, I'm honestly not sure what the rest of the endurance season this year will look like but I'm going focus on the positive and stay grateful for each ride opportunity as they come and the chance to gain experience for bringing my own horse along for the adventure someday. Here's hopefully to many more competitive miles ahead in 2021! 

Nothing but smiles

1 comment:

  1. so exciting, i LOVE fair hill (tho legit can't imagine riding for 25 miles straight haha). congrats on getting out there and completing with a happy healthy horse!!

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