By Jennifer Klitzke
Spanish Mustang Indian’s Legend (Indy) and I were encouraged to give endurance riding a try last weekend. We had received gift certificates at the Minnesota Horse Expo from Minnesota Distance Riding Association (MNDRA) who organized a competitive trail ride through the scenic Sand Dunes State Forest. Although we had been riding all winter, I had no idea how strenuous eight miles of brisk trotting would be. It is no wonder endurance riders are so fit!
After our pre-ride vet check, each horse received a number. Now Indy has a new nickname “57.”
We were given a map and followed colored markers and pie plates. The newbie novice groups were blessed to have experienced endurance leaders who helped us stay safe, on course, and at pace to arrive at the finish line as rested as possible within our two hour time limit. All but the last two miles of our ten-mile ride was at a brisk trot. Reaching the eight-mile marker with 20 minutes to spare, allowed all of us to cool down and pulse down to the finish line.
Approaching the finish line were we received our times and ten minutes to the final vet check.
The horse’s pre- and post-ride vet checks are a very important part of the scoring system for endurance riding. Indy did very well recovering from the brisk trotting. Unfortunately he decided he was done with trotting when he reached the finish line. We were unable to show a trot at the post-vet check which resulted in a 20-point deduction. Nevertheless, I am extremely proud of how well he did. And I can honestly say that in 30 years of riding horses, I have never ridden that hard.
An enormous “thank you” to all of the volunteers and organizers of the MNDRA endurance ride at Sand Dunes State Forest. We will likely try it again!