Endurance riding is an equestrian sport of long-distance races where the well-being of the horse is taken into the utmost consideration with strict controls throughout the course.
It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI and all over the world endurance riding races of any length are held, although it is rarely exceeded 160 km for a single day race.
In an endurance riding race, the horse who crosses the finish line first wins by stopping at the controls along the route where the vets make sure that the horse is in good health and able to continue, even if many participants consider it a victory to complete the entire course with the horse in good health.
Most endurance riding races in the United States have a course of 50 or 100 miles (160 km) but for riders who are new to endurance riding or for younger horses, shorter rides have been created, called Limited Distance rides (LD) and there are longer rides, usually of several days.
Horses of any breed can participate in endurance riding, but the Arabian horse is generally the favorite for its endurance.
The history of endurance riding
The need to travel long distances on horseback has existed since humans tamed the horse, and endurance riding was first developed in the United States with programs that require the ability to carry 300 lb (140 kg) over 100 miles (160 km) in one day.
The sport of endurance riding began in 1955 when Wendell Robie and a group of riders ridden from the Lake Tahoe area through the Sierra Nevada to Auburn in less than 24 hours following the historic Western States Trail.
This race soon became known as the Tevis Cup and still remains the most difficult of the 100-mile races around the world today due to its rugged terrain, high altitude and temperatures of 100 degrees (~ 37 ° C). while in Europe endurance riding was introduced for the first time in the 1960s.
Endurance riding race structure
Before the race all horses are examined by a veterinarian to make sure they are fit for the race and riders can be provided with a map or GPS waypoint for the route, showing the route, places for mandatory stops (called “taken”). and any natural obstacles (such as ditches, steep hills and water crossings) and trails are often marked with colored ribbons at regular intervals with additional ribbons or small arrow marks at the trail turns.
The race is divided into sections, with different names (stages, phases, loops, etc.) according to the organization.
At the end of each section, the horses are subjected to a veterinary inspection (sometimes called “vetgate”) where solidity, dehydration, heartbeat and breathing are checked.
To continue the race the horse must pass the visit, during which time continues to flow although the terrain and weather conditions may require the race vets to set a different maximum goal.
Therefore it is important that horses recover as soon as possible and any horse deemed unfit to continue the race (for example due to lameness or excessive fatigue) is eliminated from further competition.
After the veterinary inspection, the horse is restrained for a further period, usually between 40 and 60 minutes, minutes taken to feed and water it while the riders can continue the ride without other aids although many riders have collaborators to help them. during veterinary checks.
During the endurance riding competition, participants are free to choose their own pace, adapting it to the terrain they encounter.
For this reason they need to know when to slow down or when to speed up and, above all, have a great knowledge of their horse, its condition, the signs of fatigue and they can also get off and jog alongside their horse without any penalty.
The terrain of endurance riding races varies greatly from race to race and natural obstacles, called “hazards”, are marked on the trails.
Endurance riding. The winner
According to FEI and AERC rules the winner is the horse that crosses the finish line first and passes the veterinary check as “eligible to continue”.
Under the competitive trail riging rules and endurance rules of some nations, but not in international competitions nor in the USA, the winner is determined by a combination of horse speed and recovery rate or a required standard.
Additional prizes are usually awarded to horses in better condition that finish in the top 10 for distances of 50 miles (80km) or more.
The Best Conditioned, or “BC,” award is generally more popular than finishing first, as it is determined by a combination of speed, weight carried, and veterinary scores.
For example, a horse that ranks fourth but with a rider heavier than the winner and with the same vet score has a good chance of winning the BC award.
Endurance riding The rules for the rider
In CEI races, competitors must have a minimum weight of 75 kilograms (165 pounds) with their saddle.
If the weight is lower, weights must be added up to 75 kilograms and the weighings are generally carried out before and after the competition even if there may be unscheduled weighings even during the competition.
Endurance riding. The equipment
Endurance riding is less formal than other equestrian disciplines and those who compete choose clothes for their comfort and we can suggest our clothing collection, very comfortable sweatshirts also for your free time.
In FEI competitions, competitors must wear a riding helmet, riding pants, suitable footwear and usually a light saddle is used, to prevent the horse from carrying unnecessary weight, and comfortable for the rider for the long hours that the competition requires.
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