by Nick Warhol
November 22 2021
We had a very successful Intro to Endurance clinic this past Saturday in Santa Cruz. It was hosted by the Santa Cruz horseman’s association and the Quicksilver endurance riders.
The turnout was incredible- we sold out! We had 16 horses and 10 auditors. There were a few riders who had done a couple of rides, but most attendees were interested in the sport and had not done a ride. I was a speaker, as was Debbie Boscoe and Jill Kilty Newburn, but the act that stole the show was Julie Suhr. She came and talked to the riders and impressed them very much. She also handed out a copy of her book and handouts to the riders. Thanks Julie!
The facility at Santa Cruz is amazing- indoor lecture area with couches, full kitchen, the works. The picture is Debbie doing her presentation on new riders and the right speed to ride as a beginner. The horse camp is excellent and has pens for all the horses. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the trails were in great shape. The attendees were a great group who were hungry to learn.
The highlight for me was the trail portion. You can lecture all you want, (which we did!) but the proof is in the pudding, or the riding in this case. We split the riders into four groups and paired them with a mentor rider. Me, Debbie, Jill, and Lori Olsen came to help. Each group went out separately with a mentor and we rode a nice six-mile loop that had trails that ranged from perfect to pretty technical and gnarly. The goal was to ride at a pace to show them exactly what it would be like in their first ride. My group was just great! We had a nice fun ride that took about an hour and fifteen minutes, which would equate to about a ten-hour ride time in a 50. Some of the comments on the trail were “I had no idea you trotted so much!” “I have never trotted this much before on a ride.” “it’s tricky to follow the ribbons when you are concentrating on riding!” “This is the hardest my horse has ever worked!” “Your horse is amazing!”
We then had a vet check at the end where the riders really got to see how it worked. All four of my horses were at about 60-64 when we hopped out of the saddles, and after about 10 minutes they were all recovered down to 48 or so. That really clicked with the riders when they saw that the ride they had just done let them get to the check at criteria, and their horse recovered fully after just a few minutes and were not stressed at that time. They now also understood why Sorsha’s pulse was 36. She’s a fit experienced horse, and theirs were not. Our trot outs were great- everything from A+ for attitude, gait, and impulsion, to a “D” since this one poor horse just did not understand that he was supposed to trot in hand! That just takes some training. We also had our only pull- one of my horses was lame on the rear at the finish. It was obvious to the group, and the rider had noticed it on the trail and mentioned it out there. It turns out the horse had scuffed itself in the trailer I believe a couple weeks ago and was not quite over it. It was a good learning experience for everyone.
We had a nice awards presentation that included wine, beer, cheese and goodies, where everyone got a nice gift, and we handed out a horse blanket for our “Horse excellence” award, which is our equivalent to the Best condition award at a ride. We picked out a rider who had a great time, learned a lot, and whose horse looked great all day. The woman who won it was moved to tears- it was pretty cool. I also had one extra blanket to give out, so I picked a rider at random who ended up being Connie Bennet, a long-time rider who was there attending with a guy she is mentoring. She did a cool thing and handed him the blanket. Nice job, Connie!
The only problem I had was not enough time to cover all the things I wanted to cover. The lecture for my clinics is usually a full day, and we crammed it into 5 hours which was tough. People hung around and asked questions like mad. Everyone had a really great time, and I KNOW we are getting a bunch of new endurance riders as a result. That’s the goal, and I love it when a plan comes together.
Thanks to Debbie, Jill, Lori, Lindsay, Laura, Karen Hassan, and especially Julie for helping make it happen.