So while I was off not-blogging, I did some fun stuff!
The last weekend in April, I think it was, I made my first foray into the strange world of endurance riding. My riding buddy does endurance with Rhett, the adorable Arab, and I was interested in seeing how it went, what sort of things went on, et cetera. So she and I packed a cooler, some chairs, sunblock, and hats and headed south to where the ride was being held. The idea was that we'd do some volunteering while we were there.
The site was classic Southern Idaho sage desert: dry, dusty, no trees, just sagebrush and cheatgrass, black rocks scattered around, low rolling hills, and hot. I really liked it. :) The base area for the ride was right by the landowner's house and barn. The base consisted of a card table, the back of the vet's pickup, two large tubs of water, and an orange pylon on the far side of the barn to mark the trot-out distance. The organization consisted of yellow legal pads, a couple of binders, a clock, and maybe a computer.
The vet was, of course, in attendance to do the periodic vet checks required for the horses. I was really surprised to discover that there isn't a medic on site. I mean, we always have medics available for eventing, and even dressage shows have a medic! I would think that endurance rides would pose equal -- if not greater -- numbers of opportunities for human injury: heat stroke, nasty falls, cuts, snake bites, allergic reactions to insect bites/stings, etc. Apparently, though, endurance riders don't worry about the human half of the team. *giggle* The vet said, "Well, I've only seen people get LifeFlighted out twice recently ..." 0.o
I scribed for the vet -- who we use a lot at our barn, too -- and learned a lot about what kinds of horses do endurance, what kind of people ride, what is acceptable and what pushes the boundaries, etc. The vet is a great guy, too, so that was fun. Watching the riders come in and take care of their horses was pretty interesting too: I was surprised again at what eventers (and race people) know that endurance riders don't, and vice versa.
For example, in eventing, especially in long-format events, when a horse comes into the 10-minute hold box, the crew swarms in with sponges and cold water and scrapers. You want to get cold water onto the hot horse, then quickly scrape it away, because as the heat transfers from the horse to the water, the water turns into an insulator. So to cool a horse off, don't leave them soaking wet. The vet had to explain this to one rider whose horse wasn't returning to normal quickly, and I was surprised. I would think that endurance riders knew every trick for cooling horses down and helping their heart rates return to normal.
On the other hand, the endurance folks have some really clever ways of strapping gear to their saddles and of being really efficient when it comes to conserving horses' energy over terrain. Also, the skills needed for actually finding the right trail are pretty cool. And the people are awfully nice! At least, they were to me. ;)
I had a good time, and I learned a lot! I actually think it might be fun to do a short ride, like 25 miles, with Apollo sometime. *grin* I'm not planning to switch sports, but hey -- horses are versatile. Why not do fun stuff with them? Denny Emerson would say "do it!"