Choose your first ride (Graded or Pleasure) by looking through the handbook or the list of rides on the website. Remember that your local Group has its own website and will list not only Graded and Pleasure rides organised by the Group, but also Training rides and these are a great ‘low-key’ way into Endurance.
Graded and Pleasure ride entries can be made online using the national website but Training ride entries will need to be made via your local Group. All three types of ride can be entered by sending in a paper entry form (CLICK to download
), together with your cheque and an SAE for your ride information. Whether entering online or via post make you sure you do it in good time before the ride close date as popular rides, particularly at the beginning of the season, will fill up quickly. Even if you enter online you can opt to have your ride info sent to you or you can download it from the website a week or so before the ride. Once you have your ride info you can plan your journey and check out the route for your class.
Aim to arrive at the Venue in plenty of time, at least 45 minutes before your vet time. Park up as requested and before you unload go and check in with the Secretary. Take your Membership card, your horse’s Log Book, your Master Card (already filled in with the ride details), and your vet sheet, also completed if you are not collecting one on the day. The Secretary will give you a numbered bib and a couple of stickers with the ride emergency number on them. You also need to check the notice board for any changes to the route or last minute rider instructions.
Put out buckets of water and hay net up for your return. When you go to vet it’s important your horse is under complete control at all times so use a bridle or ‘controller’ headcollar. You’ll obviously need to remove travel boots or bandages but you can leave your horse’s rug on if you want. Don’t forgot to wear your bib and take to take your vet sheet with you to the vetting!
First stop is the farrier then the vet who will check your horse’s shoes and sign your vet sheet and then you can go to the vet check. At busy rides there might be a queue and some horses (including yours!) might be nervous and excited so keep an eye on what’s happening around you and wait for the vet steward to call you in at which point you can hand over your vet sheet to the vet writer and take off your horse’s rug. If you are doing a Graded Ride the vet will want to take your horse’s heart rate and check his legs and back and your horse will be expected to stand still for this procedure so practise at home! The vet will then ask you to trot the horse up for approximately 30 metres and back and if they’re happy they may well you ask to trot again so, once again, practise at home to make sure your horse trots forward energetically from the shoulder on a loose rein.
Walk back to the trailer and tack up. Put one emergency sticker on your hat and another on your saddle so in the unlikely event of you getting separated from your horse during the ride you can contact the ride organisers. Make sure you have your map in your map case and a bum-bag with your mobile phone, a hoof pick, a roll of vet-wrap and an energy bar. If you want to take a drink then use a bottle holder that attaches to your saddle.
Walk to the start, where the timekeeper will give you your start time so make a mental note of it. Set off quietly and try to ride at a consistent pace. You need to be riding between 8kph and 15kph and around 10kph (a mix of trot and canter) is a good target speed, so 40kms will take 4hours at 10kph. Obviously your speed will be dictated by the terrain and the going but remember that most horses walk at about 5-6kph so you can see how lots of walking would slow you down!
On returning to the venue (finish) give the timekeeper your number and you’ll be given a ticket with your finish time and your vet time on it. You have 30 mins from the time you finish to go to the vet check and your horse’s heart rate needs to be below 64bpm to pass. Dismount and walk back to the trailer, untack, and offer your horse a drink but don’t give him any hard feed, although hay is fine as some horses settle better when they’re allowed to munch on some hay or graze. Check your horse’s heart rate with your stethoscope and if it’s a bit high and the weather is warm then you will need to sponge him down (neck, back and in between his hind legs). If the weather is cold then it’s best just to use enough water to remove the worse of the dirt and the mud rather than risk putting too much cold water on him. Check your horse’s feet for stones. Keep checking the pulse and when it is as low as you think you can get it then walk quietly to the vet for your final vetting which will be the same procedure as at the start of the ride.
Remember you must present to the vet within 30 minutes or you will be eliminated and again at busy rides you may need to queue so make sure the vet steward knows you are there and keep your horse moving around, especially if it’s cold. Initially you may find you need the full 30 minutes to get your horse’s heart down, however once he gets fitter and gets used to doing rides you will find that his heart rate will drop quite quickly and you can vet as soon as you have a low pulse. After vetting head back to the trailer and let your horse graze or tie him up and let him have a haynet. If the weather is cold and wet he may be happier in the trailer.
Allow at least 30 minutes before going to the secretary for your master card, vet sheet, grade and rosette after your final vetting. File your master card and vet sheet in your log book for safe keeping.
We hope your first ride is a success but do remember that endurance is a very friendly sport so if you are unsure at any point what to do then ask either a member or the ride organisation or another competitor. The vets are there to ensure the welfare of every horse so if you have any concerns about your horse’s health then ask!
We hope you have a great time but remember if you have any queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org