Going the Distance: Introducing our new endurance riding editor

Up until now, Horse Nation has been mum on the subject of endurance riding–simply because I don’t know enough about the sport. Enter our new endurance editor, Sharalyn Hay.

Hopefully, in coming weeks, Sharalyn will answer some of my burning questions about endurance riding, such as: How can you ride that long without your bum getting sore? This week, however, she’s taking a first-things-first approach: How to pack for your trip.

From Sharalyn:

Making a list, checking it twice…

Endurance season is upon us. And since Flash is convinced that endurance is his equine calling in life, I have graciously seen to it that my pocket book can accommodate all that this sport will entail. And it’s a lot. So I’m making a list (well, several lists). And checking them twice. Well, maybe three times. Or four.

Honestly, can you check a list too many times really? Especially when it comes to things that are horse-related?

Right now I have lists for everything: the camper, the trailer, the truck, the horse, the human, the dogs, the food, the clothes, the tack, the saddle, the saddle bags… well, you get the idea. It’s getting to the point where my lists have lists.

So, what’s a girl to do?

First of all, calm down. Take a deep breath and step away from the lists. No really. Step away. Lists that are spontaneously spawning other lists are not going to help you out. The trick is to divide and conquer by taking it one list at a time and start with the things that you can pack weeks in advance.

I usually start with the trailer. Before the season starts, make sure to get your trailer checked out. Things to look at are: the floor, the mats, the brakes, the tires, the spare, the plug (to your truck) and the bearings. All of these things need to be given the OK before you haul out to any races (or any trails, for that matter). Once you and your pocketbook are satisfied with the soundness of your trailer, you can pre-pack that sucker with all the stuff that will be needed for your race. My staples are: a bale of hay (certified, if required by the ride), premixed grain and electrolytes, water for the equine (in case he decides that the water in camp isn’t to his standards), buckets, hay bag, corral panels, twine, extra halter and lead (you never know) and a tack trunk with back-ups of everything tack related (again, you never know).

Now that the trailer is loaded, let’s move on to the truck. Again, I like to get my truck checked out at the beginning of a season to make sure nothing got eaten by critters while it sat all winter long. After I get the OK on all the engine parts, I give my truck an oil change, a good cleaning and then load the camper… I have a cab-over that I find to be perfect for horse camping. Some people have live-in quarters in their trailer (lucky them) and don’t have to do this step. For those on a budget, a standard cab-over is a cheap alternative. I got mine for free off of Craiglist a few years ago. It isn’t pretty, but who cares when you’re crawling back through camp after the race… all you want is a bed. Now. Or maybe 10 miles ago.

After the camper is on the truck I usually get in there and give it the once-over as well… and take a rag to all the dust that has gathered over the winter. I make sure the lights work, the heater works and that the stove works. I take my LP tank and get it filled for the season. I also get my bedding out and get the bed made up. My camper usually has food staples that are left-over from the previous year so I take note of what is still good and then make a quick grocery list. Remember, you won’t need to feed a small army (unless you actually bring a small army) so keep it simple. But I always make sure wine is included… it helps with the sore muscles at the end of race day. No really, it does. Trust me.

All of this stuff that I have mentioned is stuff you can do well in advance of your first race. In my next installment I’ll address the horse, the human and the tack.

Until then, go ride. And remember… to finish is to win.

Photo: Sharalyn & Flash at the beach

About the author: Sharalyn Hay is owned by Flash (the Arab), Storm (the Mustang) and Goodwin (the NSHxTB) and by her dogs Daisy and Noelle. In her spare time, Sharalyn slaves away at her “real” job to make sure that the pocket book is never down on it’s luck. You can follow her at her blog here.

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