A milestone, and of newbies
|December 20, 2010||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Before diving into the topic today – which is courtesy of Endurance Granny – I wanted to share a special milestone.
Aarene over at the Haiku Farm, suggested I develop a rental program for the renegade hoof boots. After making numerous suggestions, she became my first customer a few weeks ago.
This week, Fiddle and Aarene sported a red set of rental boots and successfully returned from a test ride with boots intact – after going through sand, creeks, and mud.
This report was especially satisfying as there were several challenging aspects to the fitting:
· It was long distance – I had to rely on pictures and e-mails. In fact, this was the first hooves I’ve fit long distance!
· There weren’t current measurements – the measurements came from last fall/winter when Fee’s shoes were pulled. New measurements couldn’t be taken because Fee was still in shoes.
· The measurements weren’t as precise as I usually like – the measurements were to the ¼” instead of the 1/8”.
· Fee has feet that are asymmetrical.
So, when I got the good news that the boots are staying on, as you can imagine I responded with a huge WHOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!!!! The fit isn’t perfect and there’s a few adjustments I’d like to make – but the nice thing about renegades is that as long as you are close, the boots will usually stay on well enough to ride in them until you can fine tune how much cutback is needed etc.
Then I got something even better – A pic of Aarene and Fiddle in “full” Standardbred-trot mode looking perfectly in harmony. And because my boots were in the picture, I felt like I was part of that picture. And that was one of the best feelings in the world. I admit I haven’t done much today at work besides stare at that picture of happy rider and horse on the trail, doing what both obviously love to do.
Aarene will probably post on her blog (see side bar) soon if you are interested in more of their adventures.
Now on to the real topic of the day
Endurance Granny posted on the subject of novice disappointment, a topic I probably have touched on before.
I struggled with this during the first couple years in Endurance. In fact, on my website (http://www.bootsandsaddles4mel.com/) I wrote the following in the endurance section main page – Learn all you can, do the best you can by your horse, and remember – “if you are having a tough time, there’s probably someone else out there who’s gone through the same thing and has come out the other side more or less intact” – a tribute to my first year. I didn’t complete a single ride my first season – and lamed my horse to the point I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to ever do endurance again. It seemed like everyone around me was completing rides easily. I started endurance for the sole purpose of completing the Tevis – a goal that seemed impossibly far away at the end of my first season.
As a goal oriented person used to creating game plans and meeting deadlines – it was a hard pill to swallow that I had failed. And yes, I would use the word “fail”. Aside from the non-completions, I had a lame horse who was miserable. Oh yes – that is a fail.
Gradually I realized that even the self-proclaimed “newbies” in this sport weren’t really newbies the way I was a newbie. Yes, we are all eternally learning in this sport, HOWEVER the newbie with less than 1000 miles is on a different learning curve than the “newbie” with 5,000 miles.
It seemed to me that people were great at giving advice, but seemed to lose touch with how it felt to start out in this sport. This is completely understandable! It’s easiest (and natural) to give advice where you are NOW, not where you used to be. And, while time gives perspective on the past, sometimes it can be a bit rosy in hindsight and you lose the intensity and raw-ness that was present when it was happening.
After talking to endurance riders I respected and who were willing to talk candidly about their experiences over the years, I realized that most, if not all, endurance riders did go through the same trials and tribulations in their first 1000 miles, that I was experiencing. The problem is, that at any one time, only a small % of riders are at a certain stage – which includes that critical mass of newbies under 1000 miles.
Because I know how badly I felt, and how frustrating it was to see people who were moving out of the stage I was in (LD’s, starting 50’s) and into the next one (100’s, Tevis) with an ease I couldn’t imagine – I wanted to help someone who might be struggling in the same way.
Among other reasons that’s why I started a blog. It’s the truth from a perspective and being IN THE PRESENT. Some day, when I’m a widely successful vet and endurance rider (hey – we all have dreams right?) I want to be able to tell people – “what you are going through is normal and it gets better”. And if they don’t believe me – then go read my blog. I may have changed my mind or have a different perspective now, but it doesn’t diminish the power of writing in the present.
You may wonder why I write about the “1000 mile” point as being the cut off. I would agree with those who say that endurance is about continuous learning no matter what your mileage, and that the more I learn, the less I know. I’m less apt to see issues in black and white and consider the grays. However, talking to other endurance riders, I’m under the impression that the steepest learning curve comes in the first 1000 miles. I feel 1000 miles is a significant accomplishment – something that’s echoed by AERC. At 1000 miles you are recognized at the convention and your mileage patches become less frequent – no longer are they awarded every 250 miles. One thousand miles is also a major horse accomplishment and is the first recognized mileage levels for our equine partners.
For those newbies in the throes of what seems to be never-ending disappointments and challenges I want to offer you this comfort – it does get better. You will accomplish more than you ever dreamed possible if you continue to seek advice, critically evaluate, and stay flexible. I have journals from my first year that have pages completely soaked in tears. I wanted to do this sport SO BAD. Would I have felt the same way if I had met my deadlines and plans? Maybe not.