May 19 2014
Confessions of an endurance addict, and how you, too, can stoke the fire that burns within throughout your lifetime. By Barbara White
This blog series has the theme of Why Endurance. Daryl, Gwen, and Dennis have articulately written why we do it. Sometimes, however, even if we understand and accept the why, getting it done requires us to plot the how very carefully. Unless you are a professional, it's not always easy to pursue Endurance dreams. My purpose here is to share some strategies to help keep you, the amateur Endurance addict, on the Endurance trail as you journey through the main stages of your life, facing the various challenges and obstacles each stage can bring to participation.
I entered my first Endurance Ride, a hundred miler, when I was a 19 year old college kid home for the summer. I have entered that same hundred miler, to be held in August, as a 66 year old retiree. In the intervening years, I have finished school, traveled, married, reared children, worked, volunteered, lived in a subdivision in a huge, flat valley with horses boarded out, and lived in the mountains with our equines surrounding the house. Not only does our sport of Endurance Riding welcome people of all ages; it is, indeed, a sport in which the individual can participate for a lifetime. I have learned that each chapter in a person's life will come with different challenges to that participation. I have also found that the three big necessities for this sport are time, money, and health/youth/energy. I have yet to find a period in my life when I had all three! In spite of that, somehow, due to the generosity of others or wily behavior of my own, I have been able to ride Endurance almost every year of my adult life.
Many of us are passionate about this sport. The addiction plays havoc with our rational brains. The craving, the yearning, the sacrifices we will make, and the depths to which we will descend to feed the beast that overwhelms us are familiar. I want to share with you some of the strategies that have worked for me over the decades, as well as some observations about other riders. No names have been changed because not one is innocent.
I ride Endurance because I love to ride horses, and I love to set personal goals that are both large and small. I enjoy conditioning rides, and I enjoy competitions. I love to ride alone, and I love to ride with others. I love the nervous anticipation shared by the horse and me at the start of a ride, and I love the deep satisfaction of finishing a ride on an equine partner for which I feel both respect and gratitude. Unfortunately, that satisfaction is temporary, only satiating the need for a short while. And then it must begin again. But it’s never the same; that would be pointless. And, therein, are both the appeal and the test of Endurance Riding, as well as its overwhelming, addictive quality. Can I do this trail, can this horse do this distance, or can this body handle another 100 miler? With each ride similar questions pop up that won’t be answered until the finish line. But first you have to get to the starting line. Even without time, money, and an energetic, strong body, there are ways to get there. Don’t put it off; there will never be a perfect time...
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