This is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. Receiving increasing publicity, more and more riders are finding out what it involves by entering their first 32km ( 20 miles) 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.
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 - ensures the best possible care is taken of your horse. Any problems can be picked up earlier rather than later.
You, the rider, learn 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?
It's all about Tactics
All of this will present you with things to think about. That 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!
To get started
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