Seattlepi.com - Horsebytes Blog
by Monica Bretherton
“Who’s that?” I asked, as a nearly white horse came speeding towards the start line with another in hot pursuit.
It was at the Mt. Adams endurance ride in 2010, and I was waiting for two friends to finish their fifty-mile ride.
At my fourth endurance ride, I didn’t really know many of the other riders. My new best friend, a ride volunteer, answered as my shutter clicked as they flashed past us, “Dennis Summers… and Rosie.”
I might not have remembered that moment, except that I was to see Dennis Summers repeatedly at future rides, usually at the awards meeting, when he had to get up twice, first on behalf of his win and then to collect the cooler for Best Condition.
Sometimes he and his wife, Sue Summers, have to toss a coin to see who will be given the first place after crossing the finish line together.
They are one of the power couples in West Coast endurance. They ride to win, and now they are sharing some of their methodology in a book called 4th Gear: Power up Your Endurance Horse, available on Amazon as an e-book.
I read it before going to Mt. Adams this year. Although I knew the book was not primarily directed to riders like myself, for whom a limited distance ride is enough of a challenge, I read a lot faster than I ride and thought I could get through it without wearing myself out.
Thanks to the snappy, conversational style and personal tone, I breezed right through it.
Afterwards, I felt like a super-lean distance runner who routinely top-tens at Tevis. For about fifteen minutes anyway. But that’s all you get even for your real achievements, at least according to Andy Warhol.
Time well spent
The highest value to me turned out to be reinforcing the importance of the Strategic Planning Department. That’s where I like to hang out anyway.
If, like me, you aren’t a super-athlete, making informed choices — whether in chosing your competitive horse, your conditioning methodology, your care regiment or your ride plan — is especially critical. Plus strategic thinking it is the aspect of endurance riding that sucked me in, besides going fast in gorgeous country and good company. It’s not a trail ride, its conditioning with a purpose...
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