Thursday, May 1, 2014

Being a Mentor

It's not something I would ever have imagined myself doing. I am a bit of a loner, and could be considered downright curmudgeonly. But Beth finally found the perfect match for Eclipse (ride stories about him here, here and here), and happily enough, his new owner is interested in endurance.

Beth has never been known for giving up on an idea. She wanted me to introduce Eclipse's new owner, Daniela, to the joys of endurance riding. I don't think it ever occurred to me to say no. "No" wasn't an option.

I started trailering Hoss down to see Daniela and Eclipse for rides twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays. It was good for me, too. I don't think I would have gotten back into riding as much as I have as quickly as I have if I weren't helping someone else along.

Daniela and Eclipse are a fantastic match. He obviously loves her a great deal and will do whatever he can to make her happy. Sure, he'll take advantage of her if he can, but he certainly wouldn't hurt her if he can at all avoid it.

Daniela and Eclipse
Our original plan was to do the Descanso 25 in June. Unfortunately this turns out to be a conflict for Daniela, whose cousin is marrying on that date. In Austria. Definitely can't do both. Knowing it would be a pretty long time before the next available ride, I proposed doing the 30 at Vail Lake instead, a good five weeks earlier.

Daniela was hesitant at first, especially since I'd told her Vail Lake isn't one of my favorite rides. It has a lot of hills and some of them are a little hairball. In honesty, it's less the difficulty of the ride I dislike than the number of vet checks on the 50. Having done so many XP rides with even crazier hills and climbs, I can't blame it on that! But, also as a result of doing so many XP rides, I've become seriously disenchanted with the 3 vet checks and a 5 minute hold tradition we seem to have here in the Pacific Southwest. I don't really even want to do a 50 at Descanso anymore. So when we were discussing which ride to do, I was less than entirely clear. Given a choice between Descanso and Vail Lake, I'll go with Descanso. It has fewer climbs and it's closer. Also, I had hoped to have Daniela experience a ride from the perspective of a volunteer before she rode, and volunteering at Vail Lake before riding at Descanso would have been perfect. It's not to be. I don't have any reason to think it'll be a problem.

On April 19, we put both horses in the trailer and went up to Cuyamaca for a long ride, the longest ride Daniela has yet done. I knew she needed to get a good long ride in to cement her confidence she can do 30 miles.

We parked at the Sweetwater Bridge staging area, and set out for the first half of our ride. The Descanso ride uses this staging area as a vet check, so it's pretty much right in the middle of the 25 mile ride trail. Because we parked there, though, we lost about 5 miles of the trail used for the Descanso ride.

Daniela was enchanted with the park. She even took a little video.

Daniela is going to make a great endurance rider. As we rode, we talked about various things. One thing that came up was the difficulty of finding others to ride with. Most other riders want to do nothing but walk. The both of us are bored to tears by that particular plan. We want to see lots of miles, and we want to do it fast. And that's what makes an endurance rider.

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