I believe in the "2 years or 1,000 miles of competition before going fast" theory. I stuck to that with Shayne and again on the horse I'm bringing along now and it seems to work well for my horses and me. When I started endurance riding I heard that phrase (2 years or 1000 miles) allot and many people were pretty religious about it when bringing up a new horse. It has really stuck with me even though I don't hear it much anymore. I need/want/like my horses to last a long time and I believe that this is one way of stacking the cards in my favor to make that happen. I don't creep along the trail by any means, and I do spend a great deal of time conditioning my horses for the rides. But, I try to be conservative/middle of the pack"ish", for the first 2 years or approximately 1000 miles. I have also learned to be focused but flexible; that competition is not only about coming in first, and that nothing lasts forever.
Don't let your competitiveness carry you away. Put the horse's well being before your own. If you think your horse is off...he is. And, realize that at this time next year (or possibly even next month) no one is likely to remember, or care, where you placed at this ride or any other ride. So, take advantage of opportunities as they come but don't spend your time worrying over placings at a ride or push too hard to try to make something happen. The things that people will remember are how you treat others and how you treat your horse. Suzanne Pindar