This past weekend was spent in Portland, Oregon at the Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides Conference. I’ve made it a must-tend event for several years now, and it’s an easy thing for me to do since I live in Portland.
The highlight of the long weekend is both seeing familiar faces and meeting new folks in the endurance community. It always reminds me that PNER is just that: a community. There are cliques and insular groups within it, of course, but by in large they are welcoming folks. Green Beans such as myself are welcomed in this region – probably in part because the leaders of the “movement” originated here!
The next big highlight is, of course, the speakers and round-table discussions. I always learn something valuable and take extensive notes so that I can eventually share my thoughts and the information with others. One of my favorite things about horses is the constant need to learn and adapt (says the perpetual student), the Conference speakers have a ton of valuable information that is applicable both to endurance and horse care in general. The speakers and panels I attended this year included: Moving Up – Smart Conditioning for Every Distance (though I missed the beginning of this), Managing Equine Liability, “10 Things You Can Do Better” (by Dr. Susan Garlinghouse), Endurance Foot Care, Beyond Conditioning, and Running on Empty (the Do’s & Don’ts to Avoid Dehydration). I also attended a round-table discussion on competing the non-Arab in endurance. If you are interested in any of these topics, stay tuned! Over the next month I will be posting my notes and thoughts on each of these panels and discussions.
|Pretty GHOST saddles on display.|
Another exciting thing to happen at the PNER Conference: I ordered a saddle! There were lots of saddle vendors at the conference this year but I stuck with what I’d tried. I ordered a GHOST Firenze. Fingers crossed I get it sooner rather than later, but the saddle ships from Italy and it will take time to make as well (particularly since I’m getting some “custom” accents). I am still doing a game of international telephone to see if the saddle maker can do a block or knee roll that would better suit my leg conformation. But I do know I am getting a black saddle in the oiled nubuck (the same material as the demo saddle I tried). I briefly considered getting the synthetic material, which was very nice, but I kept coming back to the rich pliable nubuck. And the black? Well, Deli’s official colors are “black & blue”, which suits us.
I also left the Conference with a saddle prototype in-hand. Also from GHOST, this prototype uses the same material as the Croc shoes as a tree. The result is a stiffer “treeless” saddle which may offer more support for heavyweight riders. Based on what I’ve felt of it, it also seems to offer a more definite “twist” than most treeless saddles. I’ve done one short ride in it just to see Deli’s immediate response – no rejection so far. It feels very different and I am excited to experiment and give feedback. How often is it that someone gets to influence the design of a saddle! I’ll report on my findings for the prototype as well and I am very happy to have a saddle to experiment with while my Firenze is being made.
|Deli tacked up in the GHOST EVA prototype.|
I don’t know if this is Deli and my year when it comes to actually getting to an LD (or two, or three), but I’m trying to remain positive while letting the universe do its thing. There is a lot I can’t control when it comes to riding in endurance. To a certain degree I can control Deli’s health, but given our history I’ve had to become accustomed to meeting the emergencies as they come and with minimal
During the conference someone I was in a discussion with made a good point: the real reason this sport is called “endurance” is because of everything it takes to get onto the actual competition trail. The conditioning miles, tweaking horse nutrition, keeping your horse healthy, figuring out tack, and working on mental readiness. It’s all hard work. It all takes serious problem-solving skills. I really like problem solving – it allows me to always be in the mindset of a student, which is a role I enjoy. But I’ve been lusting after that elusive endurance trail for eight years now. That longing was only intensified by my one and only LD.
I joined both AERC and PNER for the first time this year. The new job and a more predictable income allows for little things like memberships. I’m curious to see how these memberships affect my place in the endurance community. I still need to get my one LD completion attached to my new AERC number. Deli also has a number now.
I am not making plans other than a goal to: hit the trails. Whatever that may mean at the time. For example, this month (February) is busy with business trips and jury duty and meetings upon meetings. It’s still mud season in the Pacific Northwest so I am allowing February to be Deli and my month of stretching, yawning, and cleaning out our literal and figurative closets.
Last time: My final thoughts on the GHOST Firenze demo.