Endurance riding is one of the most inclusive equine sports in the country. Receiving increasing publicity, more and more riders are finding out what it involves by entering their first 32km ride.
Perhaps it is useful to say what Endurance Riding isn't. It isn't a long pony trek, ambling through lanes, it isn't for the faint hearted, and it isn't for the rider who doesn't actually enjoy being in the saddle for long. It’s for those who want a taste of adventure, who long to get out of the arena and to join a sport where the atmosphere is relaxed and explore parts of the country knowing the routes are good and the views are frequently spectacular.
So what is it? It is a unique competitive challenge and a supreme sport for learning about equine fitness. Veterinary checks before and after competitive rides - and in the middle too for longer distances - ensure the best possible care is taken of your horse. Welfare is paramount and having vets see your horse at least twice on competition day means problems can be picked up earlier rather than later.
It is a sport for every rider, young or old, and every horse breed has the capability. Arabians are a favourite on the endurance scene and are often the most photographed because they have plenty of stamina and easily gain fitness. However they are far from the only breed taking part and doing well. Thoroughbreds do well with their big heart and lungs as well as big strides, native breeds such as New Forests, Connemaras and even Highlands do well as they are often incredibly economic and have deep wells of stamina, Cobs have a fantastic ability to keep a steady pace up hill and down dale. More exotic breeds have also done well such as Akhal-Tekes, Haflingers and Icelandic ponies.
You, the rider will find yourself learning more about the way your horse functions, with the importance of regulating your riding to suit conditions which will affect the way your horse behaves and how he presents to the vet.
Key factors include:
The terrain: is it hilly or flat, sandy or hard ground?
The weather: is it cold, wet, foggy, or hot and sunny?
The route: does it look to be difficult to follow on the map, or a more simple circular course?
You don’t have to be a map reading expert or fit enough to do 80km (50miles) to give it a go. Start with a local training ride or a Pleasure Ride at a national event and ask as many questions on the day as you want to. You can keep attending Pleasure Rides or you can start entering Graded rides where you and your horse are given a score based on your speed vs your horse’s heart rate at the finish. This is a great way of monitoring the improvements in your horse’s fitness. If you want to go further still you can aim (once you’ve gained suitable experience and qualifications), to have a go at Competitive rides where you go up against other riders for distances of 80km or more.
Want to dip your toe in? Head to our events page and have a look for something that appeals. You can enter a training ride or attend any other training or social event as a non-member and it gives you a chance to meet a few people and ask loads of questions. We’ve not met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it yet, but from here you can decide if you want to become a member and do more or if you just want to subscribe to the newsletter and attend a few training rides.
Decided this is going to be the sport for you? Head to our join us page and have a look through the membership options that will best suit you. Then you can make your choice from any Local and National events that appeal to the section you’ve chosen. We recommend you pop to one of our training or social events if you get the chance. Endurance is such a welcoming sport and it is nice to make a few friends so that there will be a friendly face to say hello to at your first events.