The key to understanding and enjoying this horse-and-rider competition lies in the single word “endurance”. This type of riding is only about speed if you think of it in terms of maintaining a steady pace over a long period of time. In that sense, it’s a race. But many riders enter with their horse with one goal: to finish what can be a gruelling test of man and animal.
Endurance riding events are generally 50 miles/80km or 100 miles/160km in length, though some locations around the globe have limited-distance rides or shorter routes. Competition and completion are under the auspices of the American Endurance Ride Conference in the U.S. and Endurance GB in the UK. All breeds are eligible to compete in endurance horse racing, though many of the top animals are of the Arabian breed.
Endurance riding is truly a worldwide sport, though rules and guidelines vary from one location to another. Distances also vary for rides in the different locations, with 160km usually the upper limit for one day. Of course, the idea of riding horses over long distances is anything but new; however, this activity has only been organised on a formal basis since the mid-1950s.
Terrain varies for different rides as well, with competitions held for one day to three days. The condition of horses is closely watched, with veterinarians and judges performing these checks not only before and after the ride but at checkpoints during the ride as well. New riders and young horses often begin with a one-day event of about 25 miles/40km. For world-class competition, it’s generally necessary to maintain a strong pace of about 16kph to win the competition.
To learn more about this fascinating sport, you might want to browse one of the dedicated websites. In a short time, you’ll see that endurance riding is very popular in South America, especially in such nations as Brazil and Uruguay. But there is great interest in France, the UK, and Belgium as well. A recent competition in Dubai drew a lot of interest and the current calendar of events around the world is already full.
Results are covered in detail with extensive reports and news articles, such as the August results from Malaysia and from the Boudheib Initiative in the Netherlands. From the UK, the Endurance Masters captured the attention of endurance enthusiasts. More recently, the season started in the United Arab Emirates, with the late October Al Wathba Cup for Private Owners capturing some headlines. Organisers have also started the countdown to the 2018 World Equestrian Games set for North Carolina in the U.S.
If this brief outline of endurance riding has captured your interest, you should begin preparing for the challenge immediately. Set a goal of finishing your first endurance ride, and enjoy.