Reprinted from Endurance News, January 2011

I admit that I am a slow study, and that it has taken me some time to figure out precisely what “ride your own ride” means, and to develop the self-discipline to actually make it happen.

I have ridden my riding companion’s ride (slower), my riding companion’s ride (faster), the herd-of-nearly-out-of-control front-running-horses’ ride (dangerously faster) as well as the ride of my older horse when I was riding my younger horse, and vice versa.

With age and miles (and plenty of mistakes) comes a little wisdom.

What is your ultimate goal?

One can ride one’s ride in an existential sense. To me, this is a critical one. I consider life to be one big ride, and I have a keen sense of living it to the fullest. That means that I am not terribly interested in riding in the worst weather, nor on the toughest trail, nor with broken bones, and certainly not on a horse that seems in the least bit “iffy.”

A friend of mine, Kathy, a combined training competitor, described this concept to me as the Ultimate Goal. (See sidebar.)

My Ultimate Goal is less about completion times, or regional rankings, or even my completion rate, and a whole lot more about simply having a good time. My friend Mary Coleman talks about her “fun meter.” Let’s just say that I have a sensitive fun meter, and that I’ve learned to tune in to the fun meters of my horses, and that if we’re not both running on the positive end of the meter, I’m likely to call it a day.

I realize that my Ultimate Goal is just that. It’s mine. Your Ultimate Goal might be different; you may have a higher pain threshold. You may have a very specific goal in mind, or want to be challenged by the most humbling of trails, or be in the sport for an entirely different reason altogether; perhaps you just can’t get enough silk-screened t-shirts!

Something that is amazing about the sport of endurance riding, and distance riding in general, is that there is a huge umbrella out there to accommodate us all.

So get to know, to really define, your Ultimate Goal. You will find it helps you make the day-to-day decisions with far less angst.

What are your long-term goals? continue reading….

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