Wednesday June 11 2014
What is a 100-mile endurance ride? It's one long day (and often night) in the saddle: a challenge of partnership, endurance, perseverance, and focus. It's overcoming fatigue, keeping your horse's enthusiasm up when his energy flags, and perking up your own attitude when you'd rather be dozing off as your awesome horse pulls you along. It's paying close attention to your horse all day (and often night), listening to his body and feeling his motion and attitude.
It's managing his water and food intake all day (and often night), and monitoring his recoveries. It's judging pace and strength all day (and often night), judging the climate and terrain and fitting that to your partner's needs, rationing out the gas to last all day (and night). It's finishing a ride with a sound horse after 12, 18, or up to 24 hours in the saddle, with only the vet checks for rest. It's the ultimate distance challenge in endurance riding.
Just as a 50 mile ride is different from a limited distance ride and requires more awareness, concentration, and management of your equine partner than a limited distance ride, so too is a 100 mile ride different from a 50 mile ride, and requires more awareness, concentration and management of your equine partner than a 50.
I recently started noticing the "2-day 100" mile rides.They've been around a while; I only just started noticing and thinking about them. If I'm correct in this, a horse and rider who completes a 2-day 100 gets credit for a 100-mile ride on their record, i.e. if you finish the two 50-mile rides both days, you have completed a 100-mile ride. (If you pull on the second day, you don't get any mileage completion).
Say I have an endurance horse that only does 50's - I am thinking of one particular horse I have ridden. He could do a couple of 50-mile rides in a row at a multi-day, but I knew he was not the 100-mile type. He wasn't built or bred for it; 'things' started to add up after a couple days in a row (leg fillings, longer time to recover at vet checks, fatigue) and it wasn't in his best interest to ride any more or any further. I've ridden enough different horses to know he was just not a 100-mile horse. He was not made for it; and why would I try to force one out of him to prove a point?
So, say I took this horse to several 2-day 100-mile rides, and we completed them. I would then have a 50-mile-only horse who showed 3 100-mile completions on his record. Deceiving, isn't it? I know it wouldn't be technically correct, because I knew I wouldn't compete on this horse in a 1-day 100 mile ride. If I did complete a 1-day 100-mile ride on this horse, I would sure want that accomplishment acknowledged on his record among the 2-day 100s.
I don't think that showing a 2-day 100 as a "100-mile completion" on the mileage records is fair to horses and riders who do complete a 'real' 100. Two 50's in a row do not equal a 100-mile ride. The riding and pace is different. The skills of managing the horse is different. The rest and recovery time between miles 50 and 51 are completely different. The two events are not comparable.
You don't get credit for 50 miles in a 1-day 100 if you only make it that far, and you don't get credit for 75 miles if you elevate to a 100 but don't complete the 100. In a 2-day 100, if you don't complete day 2's 50 miles, you don't get credit for day 1's 50. That's fair, but it still doesn't mean you rode a '100-mile ride'. If completing a 2-day 100 is equal to completing a 1-day 100, then every multi-day ride could be offered as a 100 mile ride (or two, in the case of 4 days!)
I'm curious: what is the rationale behind a 2-day 100 equalling a 1-day 100 on mileage records? Perhaps its purpose is to encourage riders to start thinking with the mindset of trying a 1-day 100. Or perhaps it's a benefit for ride managers to offer this option. Maybe it's a different kind of challenge, along the lines of the 5-day Shahzada in Australia where you must finish all 5 days to get a completion. Maybe it has something to do with points. Maybe it's not important anyway in which column the miles show up.
But is a 2-day 100 equal to a 1-day 100?
In My Opinion, it isn't. Not at all.