There is a certain magic that happens between horse and rider when it comes time to move up to preparing for and executing their first 100 mile ride.
The training hours consume the rider and all thoughts throughout the day drift to their mount. Some days it’s a euphoric dreamlike state, recalling the most recent accomplishment that makes the rider feel that the goal is within reach. Other days it’s more of a neurotic, paranoia where the rider frets over the littlest of things trying to find a reason for some negative turn of events with their horse.
After the rider picks the ride that will be THE one, the scheduling and training becomes very similar to the above, sometimes it will be flawless and beautiful, other times it will be tortuous (Too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dark, lame horse, pulled shoe, farrier can’t come, etc.). When it’s a good day there’s nothing better, when it’s a bad day you feel like you’re failing and wonder why you spend all of your efforts chasing this dream.
There are the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all within the same season. This might be why so many riders keep at it, it is a dynamic, constant challenge to keep your horse and yourself happy, fit and sound.
My first three 100 mile attempts were non completions for one reason or another. I kept on trying though. I wanted to feel what it was like to ride 100 miles with a horse. You never know how much you will like something unless you try…or try and try and try!!
When I finally did complete my first 100, it was all worth it. My favorite part of any 100 is when you are heading out of a vet check and the sun is sitting behind the horizon, the day is almost done with its brightness and the darkness is coming. This is where I feel like I have already accomplished something if my horse is still happy and willing, I take a lot of pride during this time of a race. I have a sense that the adventure is just beginning. I also feel an amount of peace and serenity riding out into the setting sun with the night closing in while riding a horse that I have prepared.
Then you are in the dark. This is a fun time to reflect on all of the training time you and your horse have shared. There will probably be several times throughout the race where you will have your doubts, try to keep these in check and don’t over think things, believe in your skills that you got here. If you are really unsure you can aways ask the vet or friends, but try not to fret. After all, it is your job to keep your horse’s spirits up, so don’t be a doomsday rider.
When you finally do get across that first 100 mile finish line it would be very reasonable to think you might get a little teary eyed, after all you will be tired, proud, tired, happy, tired and maybe overwhelmed with what your horse has just done for you. The last few miles of a race I find it fun to reflect on everything that it took to get to that finish line.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to ride 100 miles in one day then you just might have to roll up your sleeves and give it a try. I think in the end you will find it extremely rewarding, I know I have.
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