Pull the plug
During the first weekend of August, I flew to Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia to try endurance riding for the first time.
Wait a minute… For the first time?
Yes, you read that right. It was the first time I ever spent more than one hour on a horse back cantering. Yet, somehow before this happened, I had signed up for the Mongol Derby!
Whilst there are many things I learnt during that weekend, there’s one thing I know for sure - it was the perfect introduction to endurance riding.
Before I left Singapore, my husband told me, “go, try, ride as much and as long as possible and see how you feel. You’re still in time to pull the plug, so if you don’t feel it’s for you, contact the Mongol Derby organizers and say you’re cancelling.”
Saying he was right is an understatement. In a sense, this was a defining moment in my training leading up to the race; the good thing is that he was right, in a wrong way. After my fourth ride, I felt that this was exactly what I wanted to do - and I wanted more.
Pikar, from Style De Cheval, was the one who organized the weekend for my friend and I. We got to ride and laugh with The State of Terengganu Endurance Team. The STET is a very professional yet easy-going group of riders who love their discipline, the horses, and sharing their enthusiasm and good vibes. The horses we rode were absolutely amazing and the endurance park is fabulous.
I rode Estupenda and Espia (sorry for any misspelling) and both were generous, noble, and willing to go the extra mile. I feel Estupenda is one competitor you want on your team, as she’s fierce and won’t tire.
It’s amazing how you can fall in love with riding all over again. I felt happy, free, and excited with everything I still have to learn.
I’m far from ready for the Mongol Derby and I want to keep this memory vivid for when times get tougher and I doubt my ability.
For beginners like me, a few things to note when you start endurance riding:
Frictionless clothes - the smallest amount of friction will turn into a full-blown blister in no time.
Breathy helmet - endurance helmets look more like Tour de France biking helmets, as they let your head breathe and sweat without retaining any heat.
Core - after my third ride, my lower core muscles (towards the pelvis) were getting tight. I usually work a lot on the upper core, but this is clearly an area where you want to focus for riding.