Pictured: Wendy, Peter, Ethen, Elsie and Erin.

Written by: Wendy Carnegie

Lately I see everyone is busy planning and sharing goals for 2020. I find all of it so inspiring and love to read where everyone is at and where everyone wants to be.  I often give thought to my own goals, but now, even more so I have to give thought to the other riders in my life. As so many know, endurance is in our family. So, about this time of year I start to ponder and some days panic about how I am going to pull it off for another season.  Years ago, when it was just me, and maybe Ethen, I felt like I had a handle on it, but now, well not only do I feel like I have dropped the ball, most days I feel like I have lost it and am chasing it through the ball pit at McDonalds.

Elsie, Erin and Ethen: Awards Trifecta

I have myself and 3 other riders, 4 if you include the other junior I often sponsor, to sort out and manage.  Plus, well Peter. This means conditioning, packing, organizing and feeding a lot of horses and a lot of people!  Not only that, I have to think about each one’s goals, most of which are vastly different than my own, and how we are going to paint that picture, cause as an endurance riding Mom, there is nothing I want more than to see my kids love the sport just as much as I do! 

This year Ethen wants to make up for lost time and hit his 1000 AERC miles, we are hoping his new boy, Ziyeed, can take him there. Elsie wants to keep doing 25s, both CTR’s and Endurance, and maybe if the stars align, try a 50 (granted we will have to see if we can find her a horse to ride, Ginger is getting old). And Erin wants to do her first 25 by the end of the season!  So much fun and so much commitment, and we aren’t even touching my own aspirations! But the truth is, I am exhausted just thinking about it all, and what it is going to take for us to do it. And the planning, so much planning…

Ethen Garn, competing in 2019

But here is the thing, I have a few aces up my sleeve.  When I say it is in the family it really is. While I know some of the riders enjoy the time away from their families at the rides, I for one get more time with my family at rides.  Ethen started coming to rides at the age of one, and the girls were barely four months old. They have all grown up watching me (and the rest of you) ride. These kids are blessed to have these weekends away, where they run quasi wild and unsupervised.  There are no screens in my trailer (well in the old one at least, Peter is petitioning for a TV in the new trailer, that has yet to be determined). And we often crammed far more people than we should have in such a small space. There are stories to be told.

And I have this amazing husband, we all know Peter, crew person extraordinaire. He not only crews for me, but crews for all the kids AND anyone else who needs a hand.  Actually, he often is crewing for someone else when I come in on my holds, leaving me to find my own way, but that is another story. Support like this is priceless.

My endurance family is so very vast, and goes well beyond our little unit of five.  My kids are blessed by an amazing extended family, people that love them and step up as role models and sponsors more times then I can even count.  Although some days I feel like this task of turning my kids into riders is far too much work, I am quickly reminded through the kindness of others that I am not alone in it. This kindness is not limited to rides here at home either.  Every time we travel, we meet the most amazing people, people who so quickly become part of our tribe, people who inspire not only me, but also my kids to take it to another level. They too, quickly become part of our family. We send many an email or phone call scheming how we can ride together again.  So, our family grows.

Elsie, staring at those goals

2020 may be a big year for us, we may hit all our marks, or we may not.  Elsie may get enough confidence to get out and try a 50, or she may play safe and stick to the 25s.  I don’t know if I have the patience to get another 7-year-old through the first big year of riding. I hope that I do, and that I can make it fun for Erin, but if not, I hope that someone better than me helps me find a way through those hurdles so she too can love this thing that we do.  I hope that Ethen can accomplish the goals he has set. And I hope I can too, I put some big ones on paper for myself. But more so, I hope every single member of our endurance family finds themselves accomplishing their own goals, and, if needed, adjusting those goals as many times as they need.  As we all say, make a plan, then make another one.

Our definition of success is not limited to what we say we want to achieve; it is far more than that.  It is remembering every single time we put a foot in a stirrup, every amazing view we get to see, the trips through the bog and every time our vet tells us we are fit to continue; and even on those days when we aren’t fit to continue; that we are truly blessed to be spending time with our horses, our friends, and our family.    

Erin, never far from the ride action

Good luck in 2020, love your ponies.  If you see me floundering in the ball pit ac McDonalds, please know I am desperately trying to find the one I dropped!  Goodness, I really hope I can make it through another season. Before it even starts, I just want to thank every single one of you who have been there for us and my kids as we share the journey together!

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