Carol L. Kight-Dufour
Retired nurse competes in 100-mile horseback riding competition
Endurance is defined as “the ability to withstand an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” If there’s one person who knows endurance, it’s 61-year-old Carol Kight-Dufour.
Carol is a huge fan of endurance riding — a sport involving long distance rides on horseback. It’s not unusual for her to ride anywhere from 25 to 100 miles on her 10-year-old mare named Dixiegirl. The rides take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours.
She’s participated in this sport for 22 years, and in 2019, plans to compete in the well-known Tevis Cup. With a reputation as the most challenging endurance ride worldwide, it’s 100 miles in 24 hours. Participants start near Lake Tahoe and ride all the way to Auburn, California. The ride takes place August 17, 2019. It’s been on Carol’s bucket list for years.
“It’s like doing a marathon on horseback,” said Carol. “To train, I exercise 1 to 2 times per week, take long walks in the heat to get used to hot temperatures, and ride for a few hours several times a week.”
Carol focuses on upper body and core strength — both crucial for riding horses, especially up steep inclines. She places extra importance on staying hydrated with electrolytes by drinking cold coconut water.
“You have to take care of yourself and keep yourself fit,” said Carol. “I’ve seen people get dehydrated and I’ve even done nursing work on the trail for things like head injuries, broken bones, and dehydration.”
Never Stop Riding
While she’s placed an emphasis on taking care of herself and she’s been blessed with good health most of her life, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She had surgery to remove the cancerous mass and lymph node, as well as 5 weeks of radiation therapy. Today, she’s in remission.
“I tried to stay healthy during this time; I took a vitamin supplement, stayed hydrated, and tried to eat well,” said Carol.
And while she took a break from competing, Carol never stopped riding.
Even through her husband’s death and her own subsequent depression, she never stopped riding.
After suffering broken ribs during a riding accident that landed her in the ICU, she got back on the horse after 6 weeks. She kept riding.
“Everyone has some kind of passion,” said Carol. “If all you do is work and come home, you’ll feel like something is missing, and you won’t feel content.”
Even though she’s now retired, Carol understands the challenges nurses face when it comes to endurance. She advises nurses to:
- Take breaks when needed. She’s a huge advocate of nurses taking care of themselves so they can take care of patients.
- Do something physical every day. Whether it’s a fitness class or simply cleaning up around the house, make sure you keep moving.
- When you need to, take a step back and say “I need to take care of me for a change.” In order to endure through the hard times, you can’t be afraid to make your own well-being a priority.
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