Going the Distance: Countdown to go-time

This week, Horse Nation’s endurance editor Sharalyn Hay walks us through the madness that is the day before a race.


2:37pm – Check gear for the millionth time. Go over every list (which totals 23) and try to anticipate every situation that might come up on the ride… like rain, wind, hail or sun. Pack and repack vet check kit several times, adding and removing items depending on your mood that second. Finally give up and pack it in the trailer.

2:41pm – Give the camper the once-over to make sure that all the food has been packed and that you have a pillow for the night. Remember last minute that you need to pack peanut butter and make a mental note.

2:58pm – OK, everything is loaded… finally. You think. You hope. You fire up the truck and begin to pull out of the driveway feeling triumphant that you have managed to remember everything for your first ever ride.

3:03pm – Sheepishly return to your driveway, walk out to your pasture and retrieve your horse. Now you think you have everything you need. Pull out of the driveway again. Finally you are on your way to the race.

3:15pm – Return to your driveway, yet again, to grab the peanut butter you made a mental note of and then forgot. This time if it gets left behind it’s staying that way. Pull out of the driveway again, not very triumphant.

4:51pm – Arrive at the ride camp. Yay!! You proceed to try to find a place to park and set up camp. This proves to be slightly difficult because the whole endurance world is there and already set up. You make a mental note to leave earlier next time.

5:12pm – Put a halter on ol’ Bessie and proceed to the vet check. Walk around camp several times asking directions to the vet check. Finally arrive at the vet check and then remember you’ve left your rider card back at camp. Head back to camp.

5:22pm – Arrive at the vet check again, card in hand. Upon arriving your once placid horse has now become a devil on a lead rope. You try to get ol’ Bessie to calm the freak down, but you look around and realize that everyone else is having the same issue as well. You just hang on to the lead rope for dear life and hope she doesn’t get away from you.

5:33pm – It has been the longest 11 minutes of your life while you have wrestled with what feels like a huge whale on the other end of the lead rope. Finally it’s your turn and you lead your devil-spawn horse to the vet. Thankfully she morphs back into a horse again. After being poked and prodded and deemed “fit to continue” (the horse, not you) you head back to camp and collapse.

6:01pm – You make dinner and alternately try to not freak out about tomorrow and pace around camp. With all the walking you get a blister on your 3rd toe.

8:19pm – You decide to head to bed before you injure yourself further. Before you do you check on ol’ Bessie one last time to make sure that she’s still in camp with you. She peers at you with innocent eyes and proceeds to eat.

11:38pm – You finally drift off to sleep just in time to hear “Loose Horse” being relayed through camp. You lay in bed wondering which poor sucker has just lost their horse and go back to sleep. You start to dream about what a great day it’s going to be tomorrow…


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