What do you think about?

I am playing around conceptually with the idea of aiming my mare for a 25 LD. The learning curve across all fronts is steep so I am in the information gathering stage. The mental game has been a thing I keep coming back to over and over.

If we pursue this I have 0 interest in being competitive and would likely be on the slower side of things. Six hours in the saddle just seems like a really long time! To date, I don’t think I have ridden longer than 8 miles and always with at least another person and I was kind of done by the end of the ride.

For those who do endurance, what are you thinking about over the course of your ride? Is your brain in “race mode” the entire time calculating strategy, are you totally checked out and zen, listening to audiobooks, something totally different? Do you ever get bored?

Also, a 100% random off topic question - I saw a youtube video that referenced GPS for making sure you don’t get off path. The video was from 2014 so I know a lot has changed. Is that common place now?

Well for the first like 10-15 miles, I’m thinking whoa! slow down! how much longer can my arms do this lol-

Seriously though, I go out to complete more than compete :slight_smile: I can’t say I’ve ever worried about what I’m thinking about or being bored or anything. You are watching the trail for ribbons, turns, etc, making sure your horse is eating/drinking, taking care of yourself, chatting with the other riders, etc. When I’m by myself on trail, I talk to my horse a lot
As for GPS- rides are generally marked with ribbons, paper plates, etc so you don’t really need GPS. A lot of times you’ll get a paper map too


As a Green Bean, my experience has mostly been staying focused on trail markers and staying where I’m supposed to be heading. Occasionally checking my Equilab to see if our pace is ok (we are very slow). Looking ahead down the trail to make sure no killer cows are going to appear and try to eat my mare (she’s got a thing about cows…). Keeping an eye out for a good rock to use to get back on when I have to pee. It goes by really fast!

I think having the trail on a GPS map to download is a regional thing, more likely out west than in other regions. It’s not something I’ve seen commonly at the rides near me in the Northeast.


On trail, I am thinking about trail markings/staying on course, paying attention to footing, and looking out for potential scary things. I am also likely having a discussion with my horse about pace, especially in the early portion of the ride. I may be chatting with a friend if I am riding with someone, or speaking to others about passing or being passed. There are some rides which are more interesting than other in terms of scenery, but I cannot recall ever feeling bored while on trail during a competition.

I can think of one ride I have attended where we got a digital copy of the course ahead of time on a phone app, which you could then follow in real time. It was great until the remote location caused my phone battery to die from searching for service so much. Then it was back to following the normal ribbons and/or plates.

First thoughts -

Your six hours is completion time and includes your pulse down and hold times (20 min max to reach pulse at the hold and end, hold time depends on various ride/day specific factors but is typically 30-40 min, and your final presentation to the vet at 30 min after crossing the finish (this includes the pulse down 20) - so up to an hour and a half, leaving you 4 1/2 hours saddle time. A 6mph pace will easily see you finish within the time.

On the rides I have done (several 12s, two and a half 25s) there were water stops every 3-4 miles. This breaks up the ride as you might sponge your horse, or give them electrolytes, or a snack, eat or drink yourself, etc. What you do when is ride environment and horse specific and your first rides are experiments in finding what you and your horse need to be successful.

I don’t know what your 8 mile ride pace is like, but I personally find walking for a couple of hours more tiring than any 12 mile Endurance ride I’ve done. It’s much easier for me to do walk/trot with somewhere around 25-40% walk (the longer the ride the lower the walk %). I did a 13 mile night training ride last September. I did a 12 mile Saturday, the 13 mile training ride Saturday night (7-10:30pm), and another 12 mile on Sunday. The two 12 mile rides had mid point vet checks and holds, but the 13 mile training ride just had a pulse check at the midpoint water. Even that dismount for ten minutes was enough of a break that I had no trouble doing the 13 miles - and we were moving out in trot much of the time.

My 25 mile rides each had a mid point hold (12-13miles). On those rides I was dismounting and giving my horse electrolytes at the halfway trough. On the hot rides I dismounted and sponged at every trough. Water is often a point at which riders catch up and I was thinking about trying to get ahead of some riders, or keeping my horse calm as we hung back.

In between these breaks much attention is on watching for the ribbons, remembering the trail talk, thinking about how my horse is doing and encouraging him (he’s still learning too - we’re new at this game). Realizing I haven’t seen my ribbon colour in a bit, debate going back to check, etc. :wink: I admire the scenery and notice how it’s different from other places I’ve ridden. I’ve thought about gear, both new (what size and style of saddle bag will suit my needs) and old (my traditional 1" wide stirrup leathers tenderized my knees on my first 25). Coming into the hold I’m thinking about what I need to do to get his pulse down, and what I need to do before we go out again, and what time I should tack up. On the half 25 I was thinking about my horse (he was tired) and if I should quit, and if I did should I call for pick up, and what I could do to help him. I did quit about three miles before the hold, opted to hand walk back to camp (regretted that btw, but I’d thought we were closer), and paused for grass whenever we found some.

I rode with other people on some rides - by plan and by chance - so we’re chatting a bit, discussing our horse’s needs at the water, and such. The rides I’ve been to people have been able to ask if there’s someone they can ride with, and there’s always been someone willing to buddy up, even if it’s just for part of the ride. I also rode with someone who just happened to be heading out at the same time (staggered start) and our horses got on well so we stayed together. I have been both the newbie and the guide and there was a lot of talk about the sport, strategy, process, experience, etc.

I enjoy being alone on trail with my horse generally. I haven’t been bored yet!