[Feature image photo credit: Me, of Rachel Lodder and Dakar, who I would follow almost anywhere. Pine Tree 50 2019.]

I have always considered myself a namby-pamby endurance riders of sorts.

I’m not the least bit competitive, although I do love going as fast as we can on the right horse on the right day.

I’m ridiculously risk-averse. Horse wrinkles a nostril wrong, or takes three bad steps on trail on Mile 43 of a hundred, or isn’t eating/drinking like they should, or blows a CRI on a hot and humid day, and I’m out. (My Rider Option record bears this out.)

Still, somehow, I’ve managed to ride a number of 100s, have had a couple of Decade Team horses in the barn, and have only once bailed out of a ride due to my own physical affliction. (Head lamp situation on a 75 that my riding partner and I were blissfully unaware of until I started vomiting violently at the last vet check. Iggy looked fab. I, objectively, did not.)

I do, however, threaten to quit every time I break a nail at a ride. Sometimes even before vetting in.

I find myself in an enviable position these days.

I have a horse who is, unquestionably, a 100-mile horse. I know it, the friend who sold him to me a few years ago knows it, the vets know it, Mary Coleman tells me so every time she sees us. Check. Got it. Yes, I see that too.

Photo by Becky Pearman at Old Dominion 55. Dressage, shmessage, there’s the vet check!

I know and admire the endurance riders doing 100s in their 50s, 60s, 70s. I bow humbly in their direction. I marvel.

However, I also know one of the things I used to tell people back in the day when I was writing about 100s, and facilitating clinics to help others attain their 100-mile goals–

This is the advice I offered when people came up to me saying, “You know, I suppose I could try a 100. I’m just not really sure I want to.”

The most important thing, in my opinion, about getting around a hundred is wanting to do so.

I think I ran out of the “want to.”

A couple of years ago, I had Iggy all ready for a ride and had chosen composite shoes the week prior. Bad choice, in retrospect, as the ride, usually dry and poundy, experienced a deluge of rain the week of the ride. It was going to be a roller skate of a ride on four plastic shoes, much as I love them for a lot of the courses I ride. It was going to be slow and potentially risky. I hemmed and hawed about canceling. I felt like the biggest wussy wuss of them all.

After all, I’ve ridden in snow, ice, pelting rain, and ridiculous heat and humidity. Why was a little mud standing in my way?

I texted Anita, my bestie, who crewed Ned and me through our first 100 so many years ago. I told her the situation, my dilemma.

Her response–

“This sounds like needless suffering. I vote against needless suffering.”

I cancelled my entry, donated my entry fee.

After my move south, I have a clear perspective on what it is that gives me that ol’ fire in my belly to go to a ride.

It’s the prep, the legging up, the figuring out of hoof balance and pacing and tack and conditioning and the partnership. That jigsaw puzzle of horsemanship, that will always be a turn on to me.

Photo by Wendy Webb. A momentary victory on the journey of glued-on boots from several years ago. Ace at OCTRA Coates Creek 50. All four off the floor at the finish. Boot loss, zero point zero.

Photo by Rachel Lodder. Pine Tree 2019. I have many many images of me packing up crew buckets or making lists. This is a mystery to me.

It’s the challenge of the trail, the climbs, the sections of trail that might have you cursing as you slow to a walk in the moment, but which you leave you admiring your horse’s sure-footedness as he nimbly picks his way. Offering a pat. “Good boy.”

Old Dominion 55. Did you notice the mountain laurel, or the rocks?

It’s getting fit again in a way I haven’t in a long time. Paying attention, but not too much, to what I eat and when. To rediscovering the joy of working out and weight training in the workout room Tom and I built together. Having a play list that keeps me out there longer than I might have imagined. Figuring out how to ride straighter, softer, longer in a way that helps my horses.

Who is the spoiled girl? I am the spoiled girl. (Thanks, Tom. No excuses. 40 yard walk from the house.)

But most of all it’s my people. I know it now. The ones with whom I’ve shared truck breakdowns, miles, tears, adult beverages, hugs and ice boots. Injuries, health scares, family drama, divorces, horse lameness, crewing as an art form, difficult dog euthanasia decisions, new jobs, SMZs for an unexpected UTI, wins/BCs/pulls at the finish. Ride management drama, trail marking woes, permits being pulled, badly behaved riders at a vet check, leaking trailers, woeful ride briefings, horses loose in camp. Farriers that need firing, saddles that just won’t effing fit, horses that won’t drink as well as we think they should, aging parents, horses that won’t get on the trailer on random days ending in Y. All these things. On random shuffle. Just like my Spotify playlists. These are my people.

VT 75. Solving the mystery of how Lani’s vet card got tooth marks.


Gene doing Gene. Gator Run LD. Photo by Tre Wheway.


Photo by Ranelle Kohut. OCTRA ride, Iggy and me chaperoned by Rachel and Sarge.


Pam and Boo and me and Ace, Pleistocene era Glass Memorial. Photo of a photo and cannot recall who captured this image.

Cocktails during Ned and Ace’s melanoma surgery recovery. Thanks, Rachel.

Sylvia and Ace, VT 100. I miss you, Phyllis. (Her shirt is on backwards, which never fails to make me giggle.) Cold pizza and pork lo mein as endurance ride recovery foods will always be credited to you.


New Jersey post ride libations with Pam and others. Don’t remember what year. But it was cold.

I admit it. I’m homesick for them from time to time.

So I’m planning my goals around them. Meeting them where they are. Saying “okay, next year” when life, such as it is, full of the simple and complicated dramas of life and death, means we can’t meet here or there. Tossing out another alternative.

The horse is the least of my troubles. I’ve got that one. Keeping a talented sound teenage horse going along into his twenties. Ah, I think I’ve got that. (Knowing even as I type this that I’ve tempted the Gods of Limping Horses.) After all, my circle includes farriers, vets, equine nutritionists, body workers, saddle fitters, dressage instructors and at least one animal communicator. [I smell your envy from here.]

My goal is re-capturing that laughter, those moments, the lean-on-one-another times, because who better to lean on than someone who has seen you pee on trail at least a dozen times, and with whom you’ve discussed undie options and anti-chafing products and abusive marriages. Who gave you magical alfalfa hay when your horse had decided that eating wasn’t his jam at that ride, and turned your weekend around.

A couple of weeks ago, Dunk and I did our first 50+ mile ride together. It had been nearly five years since I’d done a 50.

Which begged everyone, it seemed, asking me. “So when are you doing a 100?”

The answer is this: When I feel the Want-To

For right now, my goals are a little different.

Happy trails.