“Do you ride in the rain?” I asked one of my new friends from the Fraser Valley Endurance Riding Green Beans. “Of course,” he replied “we live on the West Coast.” With a sense of optimism I replied “Let’s go for a mountain training ride on Saturday.”

The Main Corral horse trailer parking lot is always packed on an early Saturday morning, full of those dedicated ultra marathon trail runner vehicles, which leaves little room for my big rig. However, as I started parking extremely close to a little blue hybrid, the runners started trickling in from the trails to the parking lot and readily made space for me. To my surprise, Christine, from my endurance riders group, appeared – without a horse. I’ve heard stories of her running the flagged courses before our endurance horses set off on their 50-mile treks. No wonder she’s such a strong athlete and has been placing in the top 10 quite regularly. I think I will take a page out of her book and start some trail running of my own (another item on my list of athletic endeavours to fit in somewhere on my already jam-packed schedule).

Guido pulled up and found a spot to park his rig. He had a tough little sorrel Tennessee Walker mare that was picked up at an auction. Whisper has turned out to be quite the endurance competitor by completing several 50-milers in her first year (Guido’s first year too). You can tell by watching the two of them together that they have a strong bond and will have many wonderful adventures in this sport. Whisper is the only horse that doesn’t try to attack my grey Arab gelding, Jamison. I don’t know what it is, but even the most timid horses will aggressively try to bite or kick him – without provocation. He’s not assertive, but he doesn’t try to actively avoid them either (maybe it is because he is so cute).

In West Coast fashion, the foggy morning changed to a light misting of rain to add a bit of shine to the forest trees. I’m glad that Whisper was leading, as Jamison hasn’t crossed a white water creek before. It was not deep, but it was is loud and intimidating and Whisper was soon out of view before Jamison made a gallant leap to the other side. This is the first of many raging creeks we will cross, and I am impressed with his level head and willingness to keep up with his only friend.
It was definitely raining. In fact, pouring, and we were not close to the end of the trail. I was very glad I was wearing my winter breeches and long rain slicker, and that I had an extra pair of dry gloves in my saddle bags. I noticed that Guido was rather quiet and had turned a bluish grey. He mentioned a few times that people nowadays don’t endure discomfort for very long. He proceeded to get off and walk up the mountain side to try and feel warm again, stepping in many puddles and further soaking his waterlogged shoes. We had a plan to explore and find the trail’s end, but this weather is getting much worse. I thought, perhaps discomfort is best saved for another day.

I felt an obligation to press on with my training, as I may encounter similar conditions in Mongolia, but I have many more training days to endure. So, we turned around, much to our horses’ delight, and began the rather long trek back to the Main Corral, only to be greeted with copious amounts of freezing rain. My latest mantra has become “This will make me stronger.”

I’ve realized, once again, that water resistant is significantly different than waterproof. Rather than trying every different type of breathable, waterproof, windproof riding gear out there, I am hoping to receive recommendations from Horse Canada readers. What is your tried and tested riding gear?