Velocity

Velocity equals Distance over Time. Yes, that is massively simplified down, but the only thing I’m worse at than chemistry is math and physics. So that would be velocity, as I understand it.

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What is the landspeed velocity of a frustrated-but-persistent endurance rider?

This summer will be 15 years since I’ve been involved in endurance riding. A few years of competitive trail prior to that, but the summer of 2004 was what officially kicked off my love affair with endurance, starting with a trip down to Australia, where my dad and I got to gallop endurance Arabians on the beach and ride through the rainforest; then I came back home and crewed Tevis for the first time.

From that point forward, I was hooked. Competitive trail was fine, but I had been introduced to the idea and the world of “further, faster.” I scoured the internet, sniffed out every information resource I could find, ramped up my pony’s conditioning. The endurance fire had well and truly been lit…and it’s pretty much been ups and down ever since.

This may be one of the most honest posts I write when I say endurance has been amazing, exhilarating, fulfilling, an invaluable learning experience, and has left me on top of the world. It has also been the most disappointing, frustrating, disheartening experience that has left me a demoralized, crumpled heap. I know I’m not unique in that, and it’s definitely helped in the past to talk to other people and find out some of the “behind the scenes” where they haven’t had an entirely smooth go at it either.

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This photo of Roo and me at Tevis last year showed up in this month’s issue of Endurance News. I was quite surprised to see it, and I’ll admit, I started crying after I read the quote.

“There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the board daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” — Washington Irving, The Sketch Book, 1820

I’ve had so many ups and downs in this sport that sometimes it’s hard not to feel like it’s a constant uphill battle in trying to reach my goals. And there’s many times I don’t feel like I’m particularly strong or resilient in dealing with it. But I guess the fact that I still persistently keep on chipping away at it, or refuse to throw my hands up and walk away in disgust, speaks to a certain amount of…whatever you want to call it. Fire. Stubbornness. Tenacity. Optimism. Reincarnated Whack-A-Mole.

And I’ll admit I have some big dreams and lofty, some might even say slightly ludicrous, goals, especially given the fact I have one mostly-retired pony and am currently at the mercy of relying on catch rides. But that also provides some great motivation to get out there and do something about it. It’s currently small steps…small steps like finishing my online equine anatomy course, one of the requirements for Masterson Method bodywork certification.

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I still have many more small steps towards that final certification, but each one completed is still one step closer towards my end goals.

It can be altogether frustrating at times, but I’m not ready to hang up those big dreams. I’ve held on to them for too long, and worked too hard to get to this point, to give up on the ideas that make me sparkly-eyed. Things like:

  • Pioneer ride finish (on the same horse). I’ve never done three days in a row, let alone on the same horse. I’ve done a few back-to-back days, but on different horses, and one back-to-back on the same horse…but we didn’t finish the first day.
  • Tevis finish. Last year was good in that it really knocked some of the edge off the slightly-obsessive view and pedestal I had put this ride on…but it’s still my Original Endurance Goal. I will happily aim for multiple finishes…at some point…but for starters, I’d just be happy with one buckle.
  • Virginia City 100. More unfinished business. And I just adore this ride. The history, the atmosphere, the challenge…but it’s also way less intense of an environment than Tevis, and a little more doable on a regular basis since it doesn’t need quite the level of crew personnel and involvement.
  • Big Horn 100. Another one of the “big 100” rides, at least in my book. Wilderness, self-sufficiency, amazing scenery, challenging trail.
  • I love 100s, or at least the idea of them. We’ll talk more when I can actually finish one. But having a couple of horses going, to where I’m able to chase a few 100s a year, would be my idea of awesome.
  • This is really far out there, especially at this point, but…going down to Australia and doing the Quilty. I would love to someday be in a position to do a horse trade of a Tevis (or other 100) ride for a Quilty ride…or do a horse lease or something for the Quilty. But some of my initial fascination with and introduction to endurance came about down in Australia, so it kind of just seems fitting.

Big dreams, yes…but also big motivators, and something to keep me buckled down and going during this certification process. Just don’t ask me to even think about velocity calculations.

10 thoughts on “Velocity

  1. That issue of the magazine was my first one since re-upping my membership for the first time in 2 years and I was so thrilled to see that photo of you paired with such a great quote.

    Also, I think it is SO COOL that you’re pursuing certification with the Masterson Method. Wishing you all the best in polishing off that endeavor and in your pursuit of all of the others listed here. You’ve definitely got the tenacity to follow through with them all!

  2. I competed for at least 16 seasons, beginning in the mid-90s. I traded in my Zilco headstall and endurance tack for a black snaffle bridle and dressage saddle in 2010. I loved endurance riding and figured myself to be a lifer. After amassing nearly 4,000 race miles, I was just done. 100s are something else for sure. I did three of them on the same horse in one season (plus a couple of others). That season I learned a lot about tenacity and hard work. I also did a variety of multi-day events, including the 200 miler in Death Valley, also on the same horse. It is a unique sport and one that is very hard to explain to someone sitting on the outside. Press on, persevere, go for it. There’s nothing else like it!

    • I’m really bad at commenting (ie., “never”) but I’ve popped over to your blog before…I’ve really enjoyed reading your process of going from endurance to dressage, and Speedy is a dreamboat!

    • That would be brilliant! :) Not in a position to do so in the immediate future — have to actually *finish* a 100 first so I’m qualified — but yes, definitely stay in touch!

  3. I have to say, one of my favorite accomplishments was riding all 5 days of the Owyhee Canyonlands on my pal Jose (and i’ve never owned an endurance horse). You’ll get there, and you’ll keep finding new goals along the way. just keep chipping away at it!

  4. I am super super super late on commenting, but I love this post. My journey has felt much the same. Last year I didn’t do a single ride and I felt my prospects dwindling. I’ve been doing this for 11 years and JUST (last month) got my 1000 miles. Like you, I am at the mercy of catch riding since I currently own exactly zero horses. Finances are a huge limiting factor as well! Keep chasing those goals! I am loving following along on your journey. Yours is by far my favorite endurance blog. Tevis is my big bucket list item, but I’m not sure I’d actually be brave enough to even start! I am now totally hooked on 100’s (I’ve done all two of them, haha) and I want to DO THEM ALL. Also, I am LOVING the use of velocity in this post <3

    • Gah, yes…I have a couple of people I know, yourself included, that have been in a very similar path, either now or previously, and I have to say…it really helps to know that “it’s not just me”…and that the success of others inspires me, gives me hope, and lets me know that the downward cycles are (hopefully) just a phase and will pass.

      If you get the opportunity to do Tevis…DO IT. You’re waaaayyy braver than you give yourself credit for, and on a good horse with good trail sense, it’s really do-able…for me, the biggest thing is making sure I trust the horse, and that they’re equipped with a certain amount of “I don’t want to step off the trail and die” survival skills.

      And I totally hear you on 100s. I haven’t even *finished* the 2 I’ve done and I still love them!

      • Yes, that desire to not fall off the trail is so important to me. I rode for Skip and heard his tale of how Ice Joy fell to her death in 2009 while he was HAND WALKING her, and I cannot get the image out of my head. I know I probably COULD ride Tevis if I looked for a horse on FB or something, but I can’t fathom doing it on a horse I haven’t met and don’t completely trust. Of all the horses I’ve competed, I think there are probably three that I would trust on that course… One of them has never done a 100, one of them is retired, and the third one finished 11th there last year.

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