Endurance riding is a fun discipline that lots of different horses and riders can get involved with. Whilst you might associate the sport with super fit Arabs covering hundreds of miles, there are different distances to suit all abilities. So, if you’re thinking about trying out endurance riding here is how to get started.
This blog covers:
Horse & Rider Fitness
All sizes, breeds and ages of horses can get involved but they do need to be up to the job. If your horse is only ridden around the block a couple of times a week, you’ll need to gradually increase their workload.
A mix of fast and slow work across different terrains will help prepare them for endurance. Not only does this help to increase stamina but also builds muscles and reduces the risk of injury. Work back from the date of your first endurance ride to help plan your rides.
It’s not just your horse that needs to be fit but you too. Spending more time in the saddle to build up your horse’s fitness will help with this. Supplementing riding with some at-home workouts can help to build your own strength and stamina so you and your horse are both at your best on competition day.
Tack & EquipmentWhen we think of endurance riding, brightly coloured tack usually comes to mind. When you’re just starting out it’s fine to use your normal tack. If you get the endurance bug though you might want to get some tack designed specifically for the sport.
Endurance bridles are typically lightweight and easy to care for. The material can also withstand all of the sloshing of water to cool your horse down after a ride. Some of our favourite bridles include the Zilco Ultra and Marathon.
Wide-based stirrups help to distribute weight and can be more comfortable for long distances. Some riders also like to use a cage on their stirrups to prevent the foot sliding through. The Compositi Reflex Stirrups feature a shock absorbing layer and can also be fitted with toe cages.
Look for breathable fabric in a saddlecloth to wick away sweat. We like the Zilco Airflow Saddle Pad which offers comfortable padding and also has grips to keep it secure.
Lightweight, breathable fabrics are ideal for endurance riding. Riding tights are a popular option thanks to their stretchy, comfy design.
Don’t forget your riding hat. Endurance GB requires riders to wear hats that meet current guidelines. If you’re in need of a new hat, the Oscar Lite Sports Helmet could be a good option as it’s very cooling and lightweight but meets European and American safety standards.
A drink bottle bag is handy not just for endurance riding but long rides on summer days. The Zilco Drink Bottle Bag easily clips to a D-ring for hydration on the go. A saddle bag is also a good way to carry more kit if needed.
Types of Endurance Rides
In the UK, there are three types of endurance rides: pleasure, graded, and competitive.
Pleasure Rides are around 10 to 20 miles and a good choice for your first endurance ride. These are not timed and there are no vet checks so it’s an easy way to have a go.
Graded Endurance Rides are 20 to 50 miles and are timed. A vet will also assess your horse before and after the ride.
Competitive Endurance Rides are the highest level and can be up to 100 miles! Instead of this being based on time, like the Graded Endurance Ride, the riders compete against each other. Horse and riders must work their way up the levels before competing in one of these rides.
There are different endurance riding groups across the UK that run training sessions and events. Check out the Endurance GB website to find your local branch. Whether you just want to try something new, or are aiming for the highest levels of the sport, we hope you and your horse enjoy endurance riding.