We all have that friend. The friend to whom you can’t express too much interest in a crazy idea without having said friend plan, schedule, and expect you to commit. But, luckily, we have those friends to get us into circumstances that we would never put ourselves into. So when Riding Warehouse’s Social Media Coordinator Sonya completed her first endurance event this spring, she was able to lure Web Content girls Cheyenne and Katie to the sport of endurance. Not too long after, the chance of an epic trip came underway.
From poorly chosen equipment to extremely sore muscles, Cheyenne and Katie’s first endurance ride would be an experience they would never forget. See below their thoughts, feelings, and suggestions for any first-time riders who might want to dip their toes into the endurance pool!
My first endurance ride could not have been better! I started out a bit nervous since I had only been riding on and off for the past couple of months and had no idea how I would make it 25 (ended up being 30) miles. However, I was lucky enough to ride a really fun little Arabian gelding named Chuck Norris who quickly alleviated my fears. While he definitely has the attitude to match his name, he was a great partner for trotting and cantering down the trail. The forest was absolutely magical even though we didn’t see as many Redwoods as I had hoped. Even though my legs were killing me by mile 15, it was well worth the soreness and I cannot wait to try a 50-mile ride next time.
Three Things I learned:
- Riding 30 Miles is No Joke: Even with a comfortable saddle and the right clothes, long rides truly do test what the name eludes to - your endurance. While I use to ride 5+ days per week, I've been out of the game for a little while, only riding here and there when a friend lets me hop on their horse. I tried to ride as much as I could beforehand and was doing yoga and running a couple times a week as well, but it was definitely not enough. I honestly don't think I've ever been as sore as I was the days following the ride.
- Not All Backpacks are Made Equal: Not wanting to mess with water bottles for the ride, I decided to use my 1-liter hydration backpack. While I've used this pack on a variety of hiking and even dancing adventures without a problem, my backpack was terrible from the first minute of the endurance ride. Even with a chest strap, it was bouncing around like crazy every time we trotted, which was most of the time. The bouncing caused the straps to shift around on my neck and shoulders, causing a huge painful rub since I was not wearing a collared shirt. Next time, I'll for sure stick to water bottles, add a bottom strap to my pack, or purchase a steadier version such as one made for running.
- Endurance Riding is About Function: While a lot of equestrian sports require you to not only ride the part but look the part as well, endurance riding is all about the function of your gear. Both clothes and tack need to fit well and most importantly still be comfortable after hours and hours of riding. There is no pressure to look fancy, which I personally love after years of showing in a restrictive coat and collared shirt. Nearly anything safe and functional is fair game, allowing you to show off your personal style down the trail.
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous for my first endurance ride. The longest ride I’ve ever been on was a couple hours, and that was in an arena on a horse I knew! However, my qualms were squashed after the first couple of miles as my brain tried to compute the beauty of the forest and the amazing power on the Arabian I was on. Although the mileage was extremely difficult, and I had a couple gear malfunctions, I now have a high level of respect for anyone who competes in the sport of endurance. Once I recover, you better bet I’ll be back out there in the woods on a sporty little Arab!
Three Things I Learned:
- Proper Footwear: I made the unfortunate decision to wear my tall boots on my ride. It was just about the 15th mile when I noticed that the zipper on the boot was rubbing my ankle. With five more miles to go, I was in terrible pain that could have been avoided by having proper footwear! After we got back into camp, I changed into the Ariat terrains (which I had luckily packed as a backup) and felt so much better.
- Eat Breakfast: With all the excitement of going on my first endurance ride, I opted for not eating breakfast, which was a big mistake. Right towards the end of the ride I started to feel light-headed and sick. I knew my blood sugar had dropped too low and I was paying for not stuffing my face with a granola bar. So I learned that even if you don’t feel hungry, it’s better to eat something small than nothing at all!
- Drugs are a Good Idea: Along with not eating breakfast, I didn’t take any preventative acts towards alleviating my soreness after our first 20-mile loop. I should have popped a couple of Tylenol before the ride so my legs didn’t almost buckle when I hit the ground dismounting. After receiving the “Endurance cocktail” of two ibuprofen and one motrin, I felt instantly better and enjoyed the last 10 miles of my endurance ride!
Don't forget to check out how Sonya's first endurance ride went back in April - A Hunter Jumper Gone Rogue!
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