How to Prepare for Your First Endurance Riding Event

So, you want to enter your first endurance ride? You’re in the right place! Endurance is a very welcoming community with lots of opportunities to get involved. All types of horses and riders can enter an endurance ride so here’s how to prepare.

In this blog:

  1. Finding Your First Endurance Riding Event
  2. Entering Your First Endurance Ride
  3. Horse and Rider Fitness
  4. What to Wear on Your First Endurance Ride

Finding Your First Endurance Riding Event

To fully prepare for your first endurance event check to see what events are coming up. With a date in mind, you can then work backwards to ensure you and your horse are ready.

Endurance GB has a handy calendar on their website which will show you what is going on in your area.

There are different levels of ride. If this is your first endurance event then a pleasure ride would be a good option. You can then progress up the levels.

 Endurance Riding Zilco

Photo courtesy of Zilco / Marijke Visser

Pleasure Ride

What is it? A non-competitive ride that isn’t timed. Suitable for all horses and riders. If the event is being run alongside a competitive event, then there is a simple vet check before and after.

Minimum qualification: None

Speed: 8 – 12 km per hour

Distance: 5 – 40 km

Minimum horse age: 4yrs

Graded Endurance Ride (GER)

What is it? Graded Endurance Rides involve a more thorough vetting. After passing the initial vetting, you have 30 minutes to start the ride. After completion, you will have 30 minutes for the final vetting. You will receive a grade and rosette based on heart rate and speed.

Minimum qualification: Novice, Open, Advanced

Speed: 8 – 15 km per hour

Distance: 30 – 160 km

Minimum horse age: 5 or 6yrs depending on the distance

Competitive Endurance Ride (CER)

What is it? This is an advanced level of ride. Instead of this being based on time, like the Graded Endurance Ride, the riders compete against each other. The first horse and rider across the line are the winners – assuming they pass the final vetting, of course!

Minimum qualification: Advanced

Speed: 8 – 15 km per hour

Distance: 80 – 160 km

Minimum horse age: 7yrs

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Entering Your First Endurance Ride

You don’t need to join Endurance GB to go to your first event. They offer free supporter memberships so you can get a taste of endurance riding. This allows you to enter pleasure rides.

Once you’ve got the endurance bug though you can join Endurance GB to get member rates on event fees. You’ll also be enrolled in your local endurance riding group. This is a great way to meet new people, get training and support, as well as join local rides.

Events can be entered online. You should be sent information about the event prior to the day, or it will be available online. Take some time to study the map and marked route. Knowing which checkpoints and points of interest to look out for will make your ride more enjoyable on the day.

 Horse Endurance Riding Zilco

Photo courtesy of Zilco / Sarah O'sullivan Photography

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Horse and Rider Fitness

While pleasure rides can be entered by all levels of horse and rider, some prior preparation will make the event more fun. 

You should have your event date in mind, so work back from there to gradually increase your horse’s workload. Try to incorporate a mix of fast and slow work on different terrains if possible. This will help to increase stamina as well as reducing the risk of injury. 

If you spend most of your time sat at a desk or on the sofa, you’ll also need to get fit too! It’s no good if your horse is super fit but you’re huffing and puffing half way round. Your riding fitness should increase as you build up the length of your horse’s rides. It can be a good idea to try some workouts out of the saddle too. Pilates is a popular choice for riders and a bit of cardio will also help with your stamina.

Once you and your horse have a good base level of fitness, the opportunities are endless to keep moving up the grades and improve your times.

Zilco Deluxe Endurance Riding

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What to Wear on Your First Endurance Ride

One of the reasons that endurance riding is easy to get started with is that you don’t need any special tack or clothing. As long as you have a saddle, bridle and hat then you’re good to go!

Lightweight, breathable clothing is favoured by endurance riders as you’ll spending a lot of time in the saddle. Base layers and riding tights are often worn, as well as a ventilated riding hat, especially if riding in warmer weather.

For your horse, look for a saddlecloth that will wick away moisture so they stay comfy, like the Zilco Airflow Saddle Pad. Your horse can wear any type of protective boots but these must be removed for any vet checks.

Some useful accessories to have are a map case so your map won’t get soggy in wet weather! A saddle bag is also handy for carrying a first aid kit, water, your phone and a snack.

If you do decide that endurance riding is for you, then we stock Zilco’s endurance range. The range is specifically designed for the demands of endurance riding and also includes the brightly coloured bridles that are always associated with endurance!

 What to wear endurance riding

Are you going to give endurance riding a go? We’d love to see some photos from your rides. Be sure to tag us on social media @harnessstuff or send a photo to

For more information about what to expect on the day at your first endurance event, check out our blog post here

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