Linda Hamrick – GLDRA Mentor
I started endurance riding because my six year old thoroughbred mare loved to run through the woods when we went trail riding. The ranger at Salamonie Recreation Area in Indiana hooked me up with Janet Kirkpatrick and she became my awesome mentor. We met and rode many training rides together in 1994, but we also spent many hours on the phone as Janet helped me prepare for my first competition at Brown County State Park.
The scariest part about getting started was my fear of failure. Although my training gave me confidence that my horse could do the mileage, I was sure that I would make mistakes with pacing, vet check procedures and supplies, tack, etc. Of course I made some mistakes (and still do), but with suggestions from my mentor and even fellow competitors I was able to improve my routine at each ride.
Over 25 seasons of competition, I have ridden over 17,000 competition miles on quite a few different horses. Some of my horses have done only LD rides, but most have started with LDs and moved up to endurance rides. Gallant Dancer accumulated over 5,000 competition miles (in 12 years) and earned the AERC Decade Team Award. First in Line (Sis) also has over 5,000 competition miles (in 11 years) and will qualify for the AERC Decade Team Award in 2019 as soon as she completes her first 50 mile ride of the season. I have included these horse stats to emphasize the importance of starting slowly and building up your horse in order to enjoy a long and rewarding career with your equine partner.
Most of the seasoned riders you will meet at a Michigan distance ride will gladly answer your questions, share their knowledge, help you avoid mistakes they have already been through, and share tack, food, etc. Being a mentor to new distance riders is a way to give back to the sport I love and to honor my mentor. If you have an open mind and want to learn about distance riding, having a GLDRA mentor is a great way to start.