Friday, December 9, 2016

Blackwater Swamp Stomp: A New Virginia Endurance Ride

I was thrilled to discover that there will be a new endurance ride in Virginia in 2017.  The Blackwater Swamp Stomp will be held on March 5, 2017 near Ivor, Virginia.  Ivor is in the southeast part of Virginia near the Virginia Beach area, so the footing is good and the ride will be barefoot friendly.  And no crazy mountains!  Not that I don't love the Virginia mountains, but it is nice to have a ride that doesn't require shoes or hoof boots and that doesn't require hard care conditioning.  The other great thing about this ride is that it offers an intro distance of a very doable 13 miles (an LD and a 50-mile ride are also offered).  In my opinion, that is a much nicer way of introducing the discipline of endurance riding than the 15 or 18 mile intro rides hosted by Fort Valley and No Frills, and I'm really excited that potential endurance riders have this option.

I'm so excited in fact, that I got my entry together today for the intro ride.  There's nothing like needing to get an entry together to inspire a person to renew her AERC membership and print more copies of her horse's Coggins paperwork:) 

Entry is ready to go in the mail!
Right now I'm riding with a couple of ladies who are interested in doing the intro distance for this ride, and I will be doing a lot of conditioning work with them over the winter.  I promised myself many, many months ago that if I found someone who is interested in endurance and needs a buddy either for the person or the horse, that I would make myself available.  While I think the mentoring program through AERC has its benefits and I've certainly gotten some great advice (and lots of time!) from other endurance riders for which there are no words to express how grateful I am, it has occurred to me that maybe matching really experienced people with very new people is not always a good fit unless those new people really want to be competitive.  I still remember very much what it is like to be new and scared and have a horse that isn't the ideal fit for the sport.  I remember what is like to experiment with tack and hoof boots and wail in frustration because something isn't working (I mean, it still happens to me on a regular basis).  I remember that it wasn't that long ago that a 5-mile ride seemed like a distant goal and riding those 5 miles in an hour seemed like an impossibility.  While I can get a little frustrated at super slow paces and I'm not even close to resembling experienced (unless you consider experienced making lots of mistakes and being a slow learner), I also have a special empathy for anyone trying to come at endurance from a slower, trail riding background.

If, however, for some reason, both of the ladies I'm riding with end up bailing on the ride, I may see if it is possible to upgrade to the LD or maybe I'll just stick to the intro ride and have fun!  I have to keep reminding myself that my focus is on Nimo's movement and coordination under saddle and not endurance goals right now, but I admit that I'm pretty excited about this ride.

If you happen to be in the mid-Atlantic region, you may want to check out this new ride soon, because space is limited (due to parking limitations).  You can get more information at: and the entry form is available at:  entry form.


  1. I'm actually planning on being there and attempting the LD! I might be crazy but I'm gonna give it a shot lol

    1. That's awesome, Amy! I hope to see you there!:)

  2. I like that AERC is introducing, what are they calling it, the Buddy program or whatever?

    My issue isn't so much finding people who want to go condition with me (I don't mind doing that on my own), it's trouble-shooting issues that crop up with the unconventional endurance breeds and how to fix them. I'm glad I've got a few people doing endurance on Paso Finos, it helps. But you,'re an incredibly rare breed of rider and I think AERC should salute those of you who are out there doing it on the heavy horses!!

    Good luck and most importantly, have FUN at your ride!! Can't wait to hear how it goes!!!

    1. I haven't heard of the Buddy program - I'll have to look that up:) And I hear you about finding others who have tips and advice for non-Arab breeds. I mostly hear: go slower and make sure he doesn't get overheated. Speed and overheating are important issues but there's so much more! And my vet doesn't know much about endurance or Friesians, much less a combination of the two! But the knowledge will never exist if we don't try:) Thanks for the support, Shayla!