Monday, January 29, 2018


Every once in a while, I hear from some friend who's taken up distance riding with a non-Arab horse they've been told, "If you want to be serious about endurance, you have to get an Arab."

Now, my first thought is always, what, exactly, does the person making this statement mean by "serious?"

As a rider whose first endurance horse is a mustang, who has now logged over 4,000 miles, I think I take endurance pretty seriously.

Maybe those who make this statement mean a "serious" endurance rider aims for a lot of top ten finishes, or first place, or best condition awards. I can't know. No one has ever made this statement in my presence for me to ask. I suppose it would take quite a bit of courage to suggest to me Hoss and I are not "serious" about endurance.

Hoss, being super serious about endurance. Photo credit Steve Bradley
When one looks at the horses who are consistently finishing and getting firsts, top tens, and BCs, that population is very definitely majority Arabians and half-Arabians. The problem is, that's really not how to look at it when deciding if your particular non-Arabian horse has a decent chance of "making it" as an endurance horse.

If one were to look at the percentages, one will find the vast majority are Arabians. The next most common group is half-Arabians and grade Arabians. It drops off significantly from there. So of course, the highest percentage of wins, BCs, and top tens, go to Arabians. Even the highest percentage of finishes go to Arabians.

For a true sense of how the non-Arabian horse one has chosen is statistically likely to do well in endurance, one must look solely at other horses of the same or similar breeding and how they do in terms of percentages of completions, top tens, first place, and BCs.

But when we get right down to brass tacks, what it means to be a "serious" distance rider is very personal. There are so many different ways to succeed in this sport, to say one can only be "serious" with an Arabian for a partner is ridiculous on its face.

Just completing a few rides is enough to consider oneself "serious."

It's a very personal question. What are your goals as an endurance rider? If you're serious about those goals, congratulations. You're a serious endurance rider.


  1. (See previous comment about heartbreaking decision to retire my QH Quigley, whose nickname was “my Arab in a QH suit”!) We were only 60 mi short of his 2K :-(

  2. Sometimes I wonder if the reason Arabs dominate at the sport is just the sheer number of them competing.

    I compete a non-traditional breed (Paso Fino) instead of the traditional breed (Arab) because...well...I like gliding down the trail, the community of Paso Fino people doing endurance is fairly small, so we "know" each other and cheer one anothers successes and console one another when things don't go right. Also, while I adore my Arab, I have more fun spending time with my Paso in the saddle.

    My short-term goal has always been earning miles. That's all. Long-term; decade team. That's it. Well, I'm a fairly competitive turtle rider....and I've played the game once or twice to make sure I've won it, but I don't like the statement "serious endurance rider". That's one of the big draws of the sport to me. Go and ride how YOU have best prepared and are ready for. The competition is whatever you want it to be.

    BTW-love your blogs...started with Destination Tevis 2013 and now I'm here. How did you end up with Demon? That was a big surprise to read! He's gorgeous!

    1. Hi, Shayla,
      Demon came to me when he fell out of a lease situation due to the lessor being seriously injured (by a racehorse filly, not Demon; she was very nearly killed). I picked him up on my way home from Death Valley on January 1, 2015. He belonged to my long-time trainer, Beth Smith, who purchased him as a 2yo as a dressage prospect. He was never much for dressage, and Beth was undergoing surgeries, so she had been trying to find placement for him. I brought him home and started riding him, just to give him something to do. We really clicked and I decided to purchase him when Beth said she was going to sell him. The rest is history.