Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding | SLO Horse News

A beautiful weekend in Huasna Valley in Arroyo Grande provided the backdrop for a Long Distance Riding Clinic organized by several of our very own SLO County long distance riding enthusiasts. Participants came away with much learned and loving long distance trail riding.

Dawn Perrine was one of the clinic organizers and also a presenter. She had this to say about the May 11-12, 2019 weekend: “I saw both riders and horses gain more confidence and learn tools that they can use on any trail ride. Riders that needed it got one-on-one or small group coaching.”

A Full Schedule of Long Distance Riding Activities

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News
“We talked about many key points to endurance. We talked about nutrition and what it takes to get your horse into shape and also how long it will take. We also talked about what signs to look for when you’re riding to make sure your horse is healthy and doesn’t get hurt. They did such a great job breaking everything down and doing a great job explaining everything. I felt good leaving the weekend knowing endurance is something I want to do.”

A full schedule of activities for the weekend introduced a variety of concepts from nutrition and conditioning to needed equipment and riding in an event. Devon Mills, a newbie participant enjoyed the lectures and had this to say, “We talked about many key points to endurance. We talked about nutrition and what it takes to get your horse into shape and also how long it will take. We also talked about what signs to look for when you’re riding to make sure your horse is healthy and doesn’t get hurt. They did such a great job breaking everything down and doing a great job explaining everything. I felt good leaving the weekend knowing endurance is something I want to do.”

Long Distance Riding Topics Covered

Topics covered over the weekend included AERC (American Endurance Riding Conference) Endurance 101 modules:

  • Arriving at Camp
  • Camping with a horse
  • You can do This
  • Distance Riding Sports
  • The Horses
  • The Stuff
  • Feed & Conditioning
  • Your First Competition
  • On the Ride Day
  • Vetting In
  • The Finish
  • Finding Your Way

Expanded Knowledge and Experience Gained to Enjoy Long Distance Riding

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News

Veteran and greenhorn long distance riding enthusiasts gathered together to expand knowledge and experience the joy of long distance riding. Devon Mills participated in the weekend because, “I have had an interest in endurance but didn’t know anyone I could talk to. Going to this clinic really answered my questions of the unknown for me. I didn’t know anything about endurance except from the few videos I found on YouTube. Everyone was so helpful and informative about every question I asked, everyone was so nice and I’m so glad I met the people that came.”

A Dream Team of Endurance Riding Legends

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News

The instructors all had a combined total of 40,525 miles of American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) competition, including Decade* Horses and Double Decade Horses.

John Parke and Remington: John started in 1996 and has 14,925 miles. AERC’s First Double Decade* Team with over 10000 miles, having completed a 50 mile ride for twenty years in a row. Remington The 30-year-old, 13.3 hand Icelandic pony, elected to AERC’s Hall of Fame for 2013, has 11,510 miles and is 11th on the all-time AERC mileage list. Parke and Remington were also AERC’s Pard’ners Award winners in 2006.

Jane Wilson started endurance pre-1985. She has a total of 6,035 miles.

Kathleen Phelps started riding endurance in 2008 and has 1,625 miles.

Debby Lyon started endurance riding in 1987 and has 13,855 miles. She has ridden several Arabians and is starting a new horse. Debby is the manager of Montana De Oro Endurance Ride a fund raising event for SLOPost. She is a Decade* horse owner with multiple Tevis Cup Finishes.

Becky Lange started distance riding and endurance in 2009 and has 6,720 miles. Her partner is a Decade* horse, Mocha Jack, a famous Kentucky Mountain horse.

*The Decade award recognizes an achievement that represents the foundation on which AERC was formed by acknowledging a rider who over a long period of time has kept an equine sound and actively competing. The Decade Team recognizes those equine and rider teams who completed at least one endurance ride (50 miles or more) each year for 10 years.

Memories, Information and Experience

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News

Great memories, new information plus experience were the takeaways from the long distance riding clinic. Dawn Perrine says, “People told me they enjoyed all the lectures and learned a lot. I think it was a great introduction to distance riding or an endurance ride.  I know people found the Finding Your Way map reading and GPS discussion very interesting.  I think riders and their horses gained a lot of confidence.”

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News

All participants came away with enthusiasm, encouragement and experience to pursue long distance riding. Newcomer Devon Mills remarks on her experience, “Some horses did really well and had a complete turn around! I found things about my own horses I need to work on. I found out he is SUPER competitive and he has to learn to ride his own ride. 

My future plan is in November there is a ride in Santa Ynez that I will be attending. I am so excited and can’t wait to see what else the future hold for us.”

Future Long Distance Riding Outings and Clinics

Learning About and Loving Long Distance Riding  | SLO Horse News

This same group of organizers are hoping to be able to do a Hausna Endurance ride in April 2020 which would include an Introductory Ride, a 25 mile Limited Distance Ride, and a 50 mile Endurance Ride. 

A great way to learn more about Endurance riding is to volunteer for a ride; or sign up and give the Introductory ride or a Limited Distance ride a try.  Rides in the area include the Cuyama, Lost Padres, maybe Hausna, Montana de Oro and Sesento Anos.  They can all be found on the AERC (American Endurance Riding Conference) website calendar.  Just remember to go slow, it is better to keep your horse healthy for a long time.  The endurance riding motto is “To Finish Is To Win”. 

Contact Kathleen Phelps for information on SLO County Long Distance Riding Events: kathleenrides@gmail.com

Photo Credit: Dawn Perrine


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Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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