Endurance riding is gaining in popularity in the horse world but as Endurance GB says 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 stretches!
Horse scout Professional FEI Endurance rider Rachael Claridge has been involved with endurance riding for over 25 years, representing Team GBR in European and World Championship events in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005 with Silver Mistrahl. Throughout her teenage years Rachael was mentored by European Champion Jill Thomas and Team Gold Medal winner Jane James. Rachael was invited to ride for Bill Smith of the Kelanne Stud,UK in 2005, Clive Pollitt, Scotland 2007, Stephane Chazel, France 2007 and Ina Bryer, South Africa in 2009. After working in the USA at Bitterroot Ranch and Linda Tellington-Jones, being introduced to Monty Roberts, Lucy Rees and their European protege such as Dan Wilson, Adam Goodfellow and Hannah Burgon from 2006 Rachael became an accredited UKCC Coach to work with riders and their horses achieve their potential. In 2010 Rachael relocated from her beloved Cornwall to Badminton, home of the International Horse Trials where she now trains, competes and coaches Endurance GB riders, Mongolian Derby Competitors, Pony Club and Riding Club members from her picturesque Cotswold base.
Horse Scout Professional Endurance rider Bella Fricker is based in Milton Keynes; a 1* International Rider on the Under-twenty-one team GBR squad and aiming for selection for European 2016 and WEG 2018 Very experienced and sensitive rider Short and long term schooling available Please visit her page on Horse Scout for more details
So what is Endurance Riding? It is a unique competitive challenge and a supreme sport for learning about equine fitness.
Riding over long distances is all about Tactics and this is one of the pleasures of Endurance Riding – you think about it, plan your tactics, plot your directions, work: out where your back up crew (for longer distances) will meet you, anticipate how you will ride. An examination of your map, provided by an EGB ride organiser, will raise your awareness on sections which will slow you down and where you may be able to make up time on faster going. Yes, you will learn to read a map!
All Endurance Riders check their whereabouts on a map carried in a case, and never just follow the rider in front.
There are two reasons for this. The first obvious one is, they may be lost too and not admitting it, and secondly it is part of the adventurous spirit of Endurance Riding – you are there pitting yourself and your horse against the elements, riding unknown territory, and finishing’ exactly where -you should, back at the venue. A real sense of achievement that gives meaning to the old saying “To finish is to win”.All routes are also marked.
Enjoy the Camaraderie
Another element is the spirit of camaraderie which exists amongst the riders. ENDURANCE GB is always happy to put you in touch with a more experienced rider who can advise you; EGB organisers are happy to talk about their rides and EGB regularly stages talks, seminars and demonstrations across the regions. Their support is wide ranging and practical, and in this sense, what is refreshing about the sport is that you need never be alone.
If it is your first ride and you feel a little nervous the EGB Ride Secretary may be able to arrange for you to ride with someone who is familiar with the sport. Set speed rides, for example are competitive only in the sense of personal achievement, so a friendliness between riders is commonplace. You will find sections of the ride where you need to reduce speed for whatever , and part of the fun is the conversation with other riders along the way. When you meet again at another ride, you will be meeting friends both old and new.
When the going gets tough
The toughest challenges are presented by the Competitive Endurance Rides (CERs), where riders are competing against each other, rather than the clock. The highest level of competition is the 160km (100 mile) CER, the International Senior championship distance.
Something to aim for
Whatever level you are happiest a, Britain’s top endurance riders are among the best in the world and you can always learn from them and aspire to follow in their footsteps. Endurance GB is the internationally recognised body for the sport of endurance riding in the UK. Membership of EGB means you and your horse can be considered for British team selection. Each year, EGB puts together young rider, intermediate and senior teams and arranges for them to compete in international endurance riding events.
Perhaps the best reason of all for taking up Endurance Riding, is the partnership built up with your horse over these many miles – of new riding ground. You guide him, and he carries you, and the relationship ‘which is forged between endurance rider and endurance horse would be hard to equal in any other sport. He has to trust you to lead him back home, and you have to trust him to get you there, and the resulting confidence will stay with both of you in any future sports you may try. That’s if you’re not hooked on Endurance Riding for life!