I’m an introvert. I’m happy with that. And of course, I’m married to an extrovert. Which is a work in progress. We’re getting there. I’m pushing myself out of the door this evening to go to a party I REALLY don’t feel the need to go to, and I’ll get a couple of hours to myself tomorrow to go ride my horse. He doesn’t REALLY get it, but he’s working on that, too. He’s stopped asking me if he can come too when I go for a run, so he’s learning!
I reckon most endurance riders are introverts. We can be sociable introverts, but still introverts. I mean, let’s look at the characteristics of endurance:
1. You don’t compete directly against other people. There is no “judge”, no subjective assessment of skill. You either finish with a horse that is sound and able to continue, or you don’t. The idea of competing directly against people with the same interests as you, as in eventing or dressage or hacking – ugh. Why would you? These people are my FRIENDS! I want them to do well.
2. You are supposed to “ride your own ride”. If you are on course and state that you need to move ahead, or drop back, or spend an extra ten minutes at a checkpoint, those around you will say “OK” and move right along. None of that annoying extroverty “But why? Don’t you like us?” or the truly awful “What’s wrong?” Nothing’s wrong – we just need to be on our own right now. WHY is that wrong?? Endurance riders “get it”.
3. You train by spending HOURS and HOURS on your own. If you train in company, then I bet you spend a lot of that time riding in companiable silence. No small talk. Just you and the horse (who doesn’t talk).
4. I’m prepared to bet ya the same thing happens on course. I know I can ride several miles with an endurance rider I have only just met, and not feel the need for small talk. None of that “warm enough for you?” crap. I once rode about 15 miles with someone: by the end we knew the horses’ names, breeds and riding records, but had not thought to introduce ourselves! We were talking about the IMPORTANT stuff…
5. We go to bed early. We might spend an hour or two around a campfire but the fact that we have to start at 5 a.m. tomorrow is the perfect built in excuse to go to bed early and read a book for a bit before we go to sleep.
6. We’re crap at giving speeches when we do get an award (go on, most of us are).
7. We write. Some of us blog:
Some of us write actual books: Aarene over at Haiku Farm, Julie Suhr.
I’m sure there are eventers and hacking people who blog, but endurance peeps seem over represented.
8. We obsess. Name me an endurance rider who ISN’T obsessive about physiology, gear, their own fitness…
9. It’s not about what we look like, but about what we can do. There is no uniform, and we don’t need to fit in with the dress code at the barn. (How many if us are even at a barn, anyway?? Far too full of small talk and other people).
Now, I think horse people as a whole tend towards the introverted, but endurance riders as a mob are more introverted than most. What do you reckon?
If you’re not sure if you’re an introvert (and most of us DO know, cos, you know, we’re inwardly reflective and slightly obessive and all that stuff), take a look here to see if you fit the mould:
Sound like you??