I love looking at ride records for both horses and riders. They really tell an interesting story, whether you’re looking to purchase a horse with some endurance miles (Was he raced from the get-go, or started slow and taught to be in touch with his brain? Any pulls? What kind? What kind of ride does he seem to excel at?), or looking for bloodlines and/or close relations of a youngster (Please let him have even a tenth of the endurance talent as his mother/brother/second-cousin-twice-removed.).
The same goes for rider records as well: Did that bit of advice you got around the campfire come from someone with upteen-thousands of miles who probably knows what they’re talking about, or an upstart flash-in-the-pan with a handful of raced LD miles to their name?
Too bad the records don’t tell the whole story.
Let’s use a very personal example: Me. Honestly, if I looked myself up on AERC, I wouldn’t be too impressed.
13 completions (9/9 LDs, 4/8 Endurance)
Pulls: 3 Rider Option, 1 Overtime
5 different horses
Nothing to brag about, right? There’s a reason I don’t sit around the campfire and offer too much endurance advice. I might be experienced around horses in general, but I still consider myself very much an endurance newbie.
But who wants the inside story? (For the sake of the rest of this post, I’ll pretend somebody just raised their hand.)
To start: 17 rides in seven ride seasons? Some people get that to that many rides in one season. Lucky them. I’ve had to work around around: full-time school, part-time job, and limited resources, meaning sticking to in-state rides.
LD record? Nothing eyebrow-raising. A couple of Top Tens in there on Mimi. Full disclosure? They were small rides.
Endurance…ouch. In my defense, I turn to the pull codes. Three Rider Option. The story behind those? 1) I broke myself. 2) I broke myself. 3) I almost broke my horse but stopped before I did. The story I tell myself to make me feel better is that I’ve never had a vet have to pull me…I exercise common sense and good judgment…the truth? I’m a paranoid, slightly neurotic wimp without access to good pain meds.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a high pain tolerance. My ankles were each responsible for a pull, and I’ve learned I can’t ride with a sprained ankle. Some people can. But I always sort of sucked at the ride-without-stirrups thing and tend to rely pretty heavily on my legs for keeping me in the saddle and balanced. But the bottom line is, I don’t really feel like giving myself permanent damage for the sake of a hobby, something I’m supposed to be doing for fun.
Overtime pull? Tough ride, bad weather, silly horses. ‘Nuff said.
That last RO pull should really be a RO-Metabolic, but that was before they really started keeping track of the more specific RO pull codes. And the vets couldn’t find anything wrong. But I know my pony, and she was at the “ADR” point — Ain’t Doin’ Right. If we had kept on going, I know she would have tied up. We called it a day.
And the five different horses? Only one of them is mine. I have generous friends that need horses ridden. I’m happy to accommodate.
So, to sum up: I’m a paranoid, uber-conservative rider who still has a pain threshold, riding an older, not-entirely-suited-for-endurance pony who has given me enough scares and traumas to make me even more paranoid and conservative.
What the ride record doesn’t tell you is how many hours I’ve spent training and conditioning. I believe it was Julie Suhr that said something to the effect of, “If you don’t enjoy the training, you’re in the wrong sport.” Well, if it weren’t for the training, I wouldn’t end up doing much riding!
I love the training process…to me, that’s where the most progress and bonding is done. I’m resigned to the fact that, at rides, I might only have 75% — at best — of my horse’s brain, and that I’m kind of just along for the ride sometimes. But training rides? Those are the blood, sweat and tears that go into the foundation of getting to the actual rides. I wish I’d done a better job of keeping training records…I would love to know how many hours I’ve spent in the saddle and how many miles we’ve covered.
Moral of the story? Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge an endurance rider by their record.
At least, not entirely.