Endurance riding is a test of a horse and rider’s ability to complete a marked and measured course over natural terrain against the clock. This may involve great distances and a high level of skill is required of the rider to produce their horse to this level of fitness and to carefully work together with their horse to safely complete the course.
One of the leading organisations for Endurance riders is Endurance GB who offer help and advice as well as running different levels of competition and training.
There are different levels of ride
The horse must be a minimum of 4 years old and the course will be a maximum of 40km. The speed should be in the range of 8-12km/hour. Horses are required to be trotted up and examined by a farrier prior to starting and will require a veterinary examination within 30 minutes of completing.
These may be of two types
- Graded Endurance Rides
These are between 30 and 160km over either one day or several days. Speeds should be within 8 and 18km/hour with some restrictions on speed for novices and a harder minimum time for more experienced competitors. Strict veterinary parameters apply both before and after the ride and any ride exceeding 55km will have a veterinary hold within the ride
- Competitive Endurance Rides
This is for advanced rider and horse combinations and they are the hardest test. There is a mass start and the aim is to finish as fast as possible whilst ensuring the welfare o their horse at all times. There are several veterinary examinations within the ride where the horse must be deemed fit to continue. Distance is between 80 and 160km over one or several days.
Some competitive endurance rides have the option of an Elevator ride if they are in excess of 100km. Whererby a rider may retire from the ride at any of the vet gates once 60% of the course has been completed. They will then be credited with the distance obtained providing they have come within the time parameters and have passed the veterinary examinations.
In all forms of competition horse welfare is paramount and regular veterinary examinations help to ensure that the horse’s are coping with what is being asked of them and that they suffer no ill effects.