What is Endurance?
From its beginnings as a necessity, Endurance Riding is now a fully fledged sporting discipline. As horses used to be the main form of transportation, it was only natural to seek a horse that was fit and healthy and had the predisposition to long distances. In modern day competition, the emphasis is placed on the horse finishing in good condition, rather than who finishes first. This explains the stringent rules with regards to veterinary checks through out the race.
Modern competitions consist of a number of sections known as ‘phases’. At the end of each phase, there is a compulsory halt for veterinary inspection. Each horse, which is thoroughly examined before it is allowed to start the ride, must be presented for inspection within a set time of reaching each vetgate. The time spent at each vetgate prior to inspection by the vets is counted as part of the overall competition time and the aim is to determine whether the horse is fit to continue the ride. Any excessive over-riding of a tired horse or any other action that can be defined as cruelty is penalised by disqualification.
It can take years for a combination to be ready to compete in a 160 km ride. Endurance requires extensive preparation and a deep knowledge and understanding between horse and rider, In this way, the wellbeing of the horse can be maintained at all times.
The Support Crew
A vital part of Endurance riding is the support crew. Riders are assisted by a team of helpers who meet them several times over the ride, bringing bottles of water to pour over the horse to cool it down, as well as a drink for the rider. Crews also have spare equipment, in case something breaks down or needs replacing.
The World Equestrian Games