January 2019 EN

President’s Letter: 2018 Thanks and New Year goals for 2019

by Monica Chapman

As I write this article, the Thanksgiving weekend just passed. I was fortunate to participate in the Season Finale endurance ride in Chandler, Oklahoma. The ride is a year-end benefit ride for the upper Central Region club Ozark Country Endurance Riders (OCER).

One way OCER benefits ride managers is with a cool “benefit ride” option. A ride manager can choose to sanction their ride with OCER and have it be a benefit ride. What a benefit ride does is if there is any profit on the ride, the club keeps all the funds. If the benefit ride goes in the hole, the club makes sure the vets and all land manager fees are paid. This way it keeps the club in the good graces of the vets and land managers so they will always continue to work for us or let us use their property.

If a ride manager chooses to sanction with OCER and not be a benefit ride then the ride manager is responsible for all expenses — and they get to keep all profits.

The best part of the weekend was the sunny 70° weather on Saturday.

One of the things I love about endurance riding is the wide range of backgrounds of our competitors. I had the pleasure of riding with Russell Broussard from Arkansas all day in the 50. One thing I learned from Russell is that, come March, he may be a new Century Club member. He has a 24-year-old horse that can still do 25 mile rides. Lets all wish Russell good luck in that goal.

Another couple I rode with were Dr. Jason Nelson and his daughter Ellie. I am sure envious of Ellie. I could have only dreamed of having a parent take me on endurance rides and ride with me. What fun they always looked like they were having. Ellie rides a nice Quarter horse that moves right along the trail with her father’s Arabian.

Rebekah Albertson completed her first 50 mile ride at Season Finale and has claimed she is hooked and addicted. It was so nice seeing her smiling face all day. She also videoed the ride and has posted the video on Facebook. It is great to see a rider getting excited about a new accomplishment.

I found the following on Facebook this morning. UK rider Clar Gangadeen with RiderCise (www.ridercise.co.uk) posted the following. She read an article by John Clear (https://jamesclear.com) and modified it to fit endurance.

I really liked it and find it to be pertinent in many aspects of life. I have received permission from both to reprint this.

In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level.

Goals vs Systems

Results have very little to do with goals and nearly everything to do with systems. Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are the processes that lead to those results. When we set ourselves a goal, we will often start to plan out how we are going to achieve them. That is your system.

So, a rider who wants to win a 100 miler, you would start putting processes into place to make sure you and your horse are physically and mentally capable of achieving the goal.

But what If you ignored the goal and focused on the system, would you still succeed? For example, if you ignored winning the 100 and focused on the fitness, training and nutrition for yourself and your horse, would you still get results? I think you would.

The goal in any sport is to win, but you can’t spend your time checking out your competitors and seeing what they are doing. The only way to actually win is to get better each day.

There are some problems that can arise when you spend too much time focusing on goals and not enough time on your systems.

Problem 1: Winners and losers have the same goals. We often concentrate on the winners and mistakenly assume that ambitious goals led to their success, while overlooking everyone else who had the same goal but didn’t succeed.

So, if successful and unsuccessful people share the same goal, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers.

The goal had always been there. It was the implementation of “systems” that lead to improvements day by day, enabling them to achieve the goal.

Problem 2: Achieving a goal is only a momentary change. Imagine your tack room is a mess. You set yourself the goal to tidy it. If you summon the energy to tidy it, you have a clean tack room — for now. But, if you maintain the same sloppy habits that led to the messy tack room then it will soon be a total mess again.

You are left chasing the same outcome because you never changed the system behind it. You treated a symptom without addressing the cause.

Achieving a goal only changes your life for a moment. We believe that we need to change our results, but the results are not the problem. We need to change the systems that cause those results.

When you solve problems at the results level, you only solve them temporarily. In order to improve for good, you need to solve problems at the systems level. Fix the inputs and the outputs will fix themselves.

Problem 3: Goals restrict your happiness. The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.” The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.

I’ve slipped into this trap so many times I’ve lost count. For years, happiness was always something for my future self to enjoy. I promised myself that once I gained more lean muscle or after my business hit 1,000 likes, then I would could relax a little.

Furthermore, goals create an “either-or” conflict: Either you achieve your goal and are successful, or you fail and you’re a disappointment. You mentally box yourself into a narrow version of happiness.

A systems-first mentality provides the antidote. When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running. And a system can be successful in many different forms, not just the one you first envision.

Problem 4: Goals are at odds with long-term progress. Finally, a goal-oriented mindset can create a “yo-yo” effect. Many riders work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop. The endurance ride is no longer there to motivate them.

When all your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what’s left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.

The purpose of setting goals is to achieve them.

The purpose of building systems is to continue to succeed.

True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It’s about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it’s your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

We often become so wrapped up in our horses, understandably, but we often forget that the success of a partnership is 50% our responsibility.

Your commitment to the process is what will determine your progress — a process which includes yourself as well as your horse.


Green Bean News: The horse you rode in on

by Erin Glassman

What are the things that prevent us from achieving our endurance goals?

In the last segment I broadly went over some of the reasons I noted after taking a poll from both inexperienced and experienced riders and broke them down into logistical and speculative categories. One of the first and biggest components of endurance riding is having an appropriate equine partner.

Horses that are injured or not conditioned for the course would definitely be a hold-up to achieving a distance finish. Conditioning a horse for the rigors of distance is a process of long, slow miles; sometimes finding a horse of our own that is a match for the rigors of the sport can also be a process that is long and slow.

Northeast Region member Jennifer Poling stated, “I didn’t have too many roadblocks to getting started because I was riding other people’s horses, but I had many setbacks when I struck out on my own. Knowing how to pick the right horse, being patient, learning to ride my own ride, and really truly learning to read my horse and fixing the problems as they came up were some of these. I understand now that it’s a long journey with my horses and that there is no such thing as the perfect horse.”

Prior to competing her own horse, in Jennifer’s case, she rode other people’s horses. Catch riding would be a fantastic way to start, but might not be feasible for everyone. Going to rides to volunteer as a pulse taker or timer is an excellent way to get to know other endurance riders and learn more about the sport. In order to volunteer, you can just show up to a ride nearby or contact the ride manager ahead of time to visit with them. The ride calendar is available in every EN and on AERC.org.

As a ride manager myself, I dearly love helping new people get started. Seeing the sport in action is a great way to learn without taking loads of risk upon a horse you’re not confident in competing. At a ride you can talk to riders, potentially connect with someone who might be a good mentor and maybe even have an extra horse for you to gain some experience on whether that be at a ride or conditioning at home.

Huge opportunities exist when you’re on the ground to be able to observe and ask questions about tack, feeding, training, etc., and you’re more likely to be relaxed enough to remember to ask compared to having your attention tied up with the anxiety of a first ride.

Experienced riders can be a huge resource for someone just getting started out and can also help point new people in the direction of finding the right horse or even making an evaluation of conditioning/match up of the horse you have for the sport. An outside eye looking in is a great way to gain better insight to what you actually have on hand and helps to take out some of the guesswork you might be experiencing.

In addition to meeting riders in person, official AERC and unofficial mentors can be found on Facebook or through your local endurance sanctioning clubs, such as Texas Endurance Riders Association, Ozark Country Endurance Riders or Southeast Endurance Riders Association (not a complete list).

All of the components of getting a horse ready are not covered here. AERC.org has some fantastic educational material regarding conditioning and care of your equine partner. Many books on endurance are available in addition to asking questions on Facebook.

In the interim of the long, slow conditioning process, meeting and participating in other capacities at the rides can help you to better get your horse conditioned, wait out an injury or even locate an equine to start endurance riding on.

Before I move onto the next segment, I would like to challenge you to think of some creative ways to overcome horse hold-ups to starting endurance.

Coming next in the Green Bean series: Taking the Leap, Part 3: Show me the money!


Ride Managers’ News: Make your ride manager happy!

by Louise Burton

This article began about the best advice ride managers received regarding putting on rides. After asking several ride managers for their answers, several of them asked, “Why don’t you write about advice ride managers can give to riders?” And so, the topic was changed.

I want to thank the ride managers from several regions who gave great advice. Please read this carefully and consider how you can make your ride manager happy!

One of the main statements ride managers would like you to know is, “We don’t control the weather!” This sounds obvious, but whining about the weather to the RM may make them just not put on the ride again! Before the ride, let the RM know you are coming and please let them know if you’re not!

Consider dedicating one ride a year to volunteer. If you get pulled or are crewing, please help, if only for an hour or so. Most ride managers are . . . ah . . . rather stubborn people, so do not wait for them to ask for help. Jump in! Come to the ride meeting. Enough said.

In camp, please follow the specific camp rules. If the camp does not allow loose dogs, or has a specific way of removing trash/manure, please follow the rules! Ride managers are very fearful that if someone doesn’t follow the rules, they won’t be allowed back.

Control your horse at vet checks. Teach your horse to stand still. If you need to discipline your horse at a vet check, do it! I’ve never seen a vet complain! Learn control methods for your horse: skin twitching, wrapping the nose with the lead, carrying a crop.

At the ride start, horses may be antsy, but from a ride manager’s point of view on the ground, we see a lot of horses that are just plain out of control. Use the proper headgear on your horse that first loop. This may include a strong bit and martingale to control your horse, both in camp and on trail.

We are not on trail with you, but we hear complaints about incoming riders blasting by outgoing riders or, worse, pleasure riders. Hey guys, the ride is 50 miles! You are not in that big of a hurry that you can’t slow down to a jog for 50 feet to pass others safely.

One of the best pieces of advice I heard from a longtime ride manager (Mary Mosshammer) was, “Follow the ribbons, not the trail.” I thought this was the oddest thing to say, but then I thought about the times I missed “trail.” No, I didn’t miss trail, I missed the ribbons! People who get lost often are following the trail and not the ribbons, so they blast by a turn.

This is some advice for improving everyone’s ride day. Remember, you want to make the ride managers happy so they will put the ride on again next year!


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