WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST RIDE
There is no way to cover all the circumstances, because every horse, rider, trail and day is different. The purpose here is to help address a couple of the most often asked questions and concerns. For more detail check the AERC’s Riders Handbook.
AERC’s philosophy is “To Finish is to Win.” That is a wise goal of your first rides. When in doubt, the welfare of the horse comes first. The veterinarians are at the ride to be your teammates to keep your horse happy and healthy through the ride. Ask questions and share your worries with them. Remember, the single most important thing about ride day is welfare of the horse. The rider has the ultimate responsibility for his/her horse, because no one knows your horse better than you do.
Ride management is working so you can have a good time. They are volunteers who deserve a “thanks” for making the ride possible.
One of the most important things for every rider to do is to attend the pre-ride briefing. If you don’t know when or where it is going to be held, ask management or another rider. Tell them you are a “newbie” and you may get some extra special attention! The ride manager may be able to put you in touch with an experienced rider to answer your questions.
There are always three groups of riders at any endurance ride, all on the same trail at the same time:
1. Those that are concerned with finish time and placement
2. Those that consider “to finish is to win”
3. Those that are just praying to get through it
Unfortunately, there is generally only one type of horse at any endurance ride: the herd animal. That means you need to be smarter than the horse, and use your bigger brain to prevent injury.