Monday Media Q: 50 or LD first?
|January 9, 2017||Posted by Melinda under Equine Endurance|
Sometimes I see a great question on social media that already has so many responses that I feel like adding my voice to the thread isn’t worth it, or I have so much to say that it doesn’t fit into a comment. For those questions that I think are especially interesting or important, I’m going to start a new series this year where I share my thoughts here. Feel free to comment if you have a different opinion!
Here’s this week’s question:
Assuming a “well conditioned mature horse”, I don’t see any reason to start in an LD unless there are other mitigating factors. Some good reasons to start with LD’s could include:
- Rider has a physical problem that prevents them from realistically finishing a 50.
- Horse has a history of some sort of issue that makes a fifty mile finish unlikely.
- Rider has no interest in doing longer rides such as 50s or 100s.
- Rider is new to the sport and has never done an endurance ride before.
In general, I think there is no reason to take your well-conditioned mature mount to an LD. LD’s are great for young and not-well-conditioned mounts. They are great for I’ve-been-inside-all-winter-and-despretely-need-a-motivating-event. LD’s have value but they are not a necessary stepping stone towards a 50.
Don’t misunderstand me – if you love LD’s and want to do LDs….then do them. Even on your mature and well-conditioned horse. But, there is no specific reason you have to do an LD before doing a 50.
In fact, I think there are a couple of good reasons to skip the LD’s if your goal is to eventually do longer distances such as 50s or (especially) 100s.
We know that expectation plays a huge role in human athletic performance. I think it’s reasonable to assume that our horses have some sort of self-regulation based on expectation too. I’ve seen it numerous times with my endurance mounts. They “learn” the distances. Along with figuring out how vet checks work and our expectations of them at rides, they are trying to figure out what their job is. Once I did a distance 2-3 times, the horse had “figured it out”. They would stop asking the question of “how far are we going?” and instead start asking “how fast can I go?”.
I didn’t want my horses to stop asking the first question until the answer was “100 miles”. The only way to keep them asking it was to not let them establish an expectation of an LD distance.
I think the benefits are skipping LD’s and going straight to 50s (in a mature, well-conditioned mount) are:
- Establishing expectations and work ethic early.
- Saves money
- Riding an LD at home in training builds confidence in yourself and the horse and is a great way to prepare for the rigors of an endurance ride – regardless of the distance you are riding.
The potential risks?
- If you have misjudged your horses physical or mental conditioning there is a higher risk of injury or burnout in a 50 than an LD.
I think a more experienced endurance rider is able to better to judge the fitness/readiness of their mount, minimizing the risk, and this might explain why many of us choose to skip LD’s.