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(photo by kind permission of Eric Jones)
Never considered Endurance before? There are many mis-conceptions about Endurance, so please read on and learn the truth about this great sport!
Are you a budding Endurance rider?
Generally speaking, there seem to be two types of Endurance rider. There are those who enjoy riding through the countryside at a leisurely pace over distances of between 10 and 50 miles. These riders are not competing against each other. They are trying to achieve their target of covering their chosen distance with a sound, healthy horse and earn points towards trophies at the end of the season. The Golden Horseshoe is one of the biggest graded rides in the UK, where riders undertake 100 miles (160km) over two days on the tough Exmoor hills and moors.
The other group of Endurance riders are generally more competitive. They enter "Endurance" rides of 40 to 100 miles and they are competing against each other. The rules are slightly different for these rides but the riders are still trying to bring their horses home safe, sound and healthy. The biggest of these rides are the FEI International rides and Championships such as the World Championships, the Europeans and the World Equestrian Games.
So whether you are looking for a friendly non-competitive sport to enjoy with your horse, or desire the adrenaline buzz of competing against others, Endurance riding could be for you!
What about your horse?
Many people associate the Arab breed with Endurance and with that they also write off all Arabs as completely scatty, useless for any other job and only purchased by equally scatty riders!
Well it is true that many Arabs are good at Endurance and Endurance is good for many Arabs. But so many other breeds are also good at Endurance......Thoroughbreds, Connemaras, Welsh and their cross-breds, Anglo Arabs, even Exmoors and Warmbloods appear on the Endurance circuit. You name the breed, it has probably done Endurance somewhere, so don't write off your horse straight away if it isn't an Arab.
As far as Arabs being scatty, watch carefully at any Endurance ride and there are many sane, sensible and safe Arabs competing there. Endurance horses are vetted at the start, the end and sometimes in the middle of rides. They must stand still to have their pulses taken, trot up and back for the vet and be checked over thoroughly, so Arabs or not, the horses must do as they are told. And it doesn't take the young or Novice horses in Endurance long to figure that out. If you have a "scatty" Arab or any breed for that matter, Endurance may help it to learn a job and boy do they love learning Endurance.
The only really important consideration for anyone wishing to do Endurance is that their horse is SOUND. A lame horse will not be allowed to start a ride and the vettings in Endurance are strict to ensure the welfare of all the horses competing. Read our page on Quality not Quantity so you can train your horse with minimal risk of injury.
What else do I need to do Endurance?
Initially you do not need much extra apart from a "crew" (called a groom in other equestrian sports!) Your crew can be anyone you know......husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, sister's friend's cousin's auntie....as long as they are able to help you prepare at the start of the ride, drive and meet you at several different points during the ride to give you and your horse a drink and make sure you are ok, and help you again at the end of the ride. Generally the best crew are very good at doing as they are told!
You will also need sponges, water buckets, water containers and "slosh bottles" (bottles filled with water which your crew passes up to you on the horse and you can pour over the horse's neck and body to cool it down.) Fabric conditioner bottles are the best slosh bottles although one rider has been known to buy all the plastic 4 pint milk bottles at a petrol station en route to a ride when she forgot her slosh bottles!
Specialist bridles and saddles, extra saddlecloths, girths, specialist stirrups and so on can all be purchased when you are competing at longer distances and you will meet hundreds of people all willing to give you the benefit of their experience on what is best to use!