Some information for those new to Endurance Riding:
Planning your first ride
Planning the season
Vet gates explained
Planning your first Endurance Ride
Before entering an endurance ride, be sure that you and your horse are fit enough. If you are contemplating a 20 mile (32 kms) ride, try riding about 15 miles (24 kms) two weeks before the competition at between 6 - 7 mph (10 - 11.5 kph) - this means you must average at least one mile (1.6 kms) every ten minutes' riding and your 15mile ride should take approx. 2hours 30mins.
Entering a ride:
Check the online ride schedules and select a ride that is near to you, has the distance you wish to ride and is open for entries, for details of rides see here
To make a ride entry:
Enter online using the link on the schedule of the ride you have selected, or download a ride entry form or copy the one supplied in the information pack from the Endurance GB Office, or if you do not possess any of these, send a SAE to the Ride Organiser or Secretary requesting an entry form.
Enter the information required, any queries, please contact the Ride Secretary - they will be able to help you.
If you are posting your entry, allow plenty of time, send a large SAE (at least 10 x 8 size) in which the Ride Organiser will send you details of the route, map, your start time, time of veterinary inspection, ride number, etc.
When you receive your ride details, read the route description and study the map carefully. You may wish to transfer the route onto an OS Landranger 1:50,000 series map of the area. Check the speed at which you have to ride and work out the times that you should be at the checkpoints and at the finish. Make a note of your pre-ride veterinary inspection time and plan to arrive at the venue at least 30 to 60 minutes prior to this time.
On the day:
Allow plenty of time for the journey, then on arrival, go to the Secretary's Office to collect your number, (some organisers require a deposit on these if you are a non member), and hand in your Mastercard if you have one with the first four columns completed (needed for endurance Rides but not for Pleasure Rides). Be sure to read all the information on the notice board as this will give you updated information regarding route changes, marking, etc. Find out where the farrier and veterinary inspections are being held, and where the starter is!
Report to the veterinary steward, with your horse, five minutes before you are due to be vetted. For this initial vetting the horse may be presented in a bridle or headcollar (the choice is yours, but your horse must be under control), but no other tack. The horse’s hooves must not be oiled. When called to the Veterinary Surgeon remove your horse's rug, if he is wearing one, unless it is very cold. Place yourself in front of your horse and make him stand square on his legs so that the Veterinary Surgeon can take his pulse. The Veterinary Surgeon will check him over for "lumps and bumps". You will then be asked to trot him up in order to check his action. This should have been practised at home so that the horse will stand correctly and then run up freely. All the veterinary comments will be noted on the Vet Sheet for your horse. At a major ride, a different Veterinary Surgeon may carry out each section of the examination. After the veterinary inspection, saddle up and go to the start just before your allotted time.
Start of the Ride:
Take a First Aid kit, hoof pick, your map and written instructions with you on the Ride. Attach your emergency contact labels to you and to your horse. Organisers work hard to mark a route, but markers are often vandalised. You are now ready to report to the starter at the time you have been given. (normally within 30mins of vetting). When on the course, make sure that the Checkpoint Stewards have noted your number as you pass through - this is your responsibility, NOT the stewards. If, during the ride, you have not seen a marker for a while and think that you may have taken the wrong route, check with your map and written instructions, and, if necessary, go back to the last marker you saw in order to find the correct route. Be courteous to people you meet during the ride especially walkers and cyclists and give way to walkers.
At the finish of the Ride:
Check in with the Timekeeper. You have up to 30 minutes before your final veterinary inspection, when the procedure will be similar to that before the start. If, for any reason, your horse does not pass the veterinary inspection or is eliminated or withdrawn on the course, you must get permission from the Veterinary Surgeon to travel your horse home. You may NOT RIDE the horse from the venue if it has failed the vet at the preliminary or any other vetting. Hopefully you will pass successfully and are then free to prepare your horse for the journey home. Before you leave call at the ride office and return your bib and collect your rosette.
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At all EGB rides you will have to fill in a Vet Sheet. Before the ride you will fill in details such as horse's name, breed etc and the rider's details, and the vet writer will fill in the rest of the sheet at the start, end and if applicable mid-way vettings. Each type of ride has its own vet sheet.
- Pleasure Ride Vet Sheet
- Graded Endurance Ride (GER) Vet Sheet
- Competitive Endurance Ride (CER) Vet Sheet
When you enter a Graded or Competitive Ride, your horse will be vetted before the ride, 30 minutes after you finish, and in Competitive and longer Graded rides during the ride. You should present your horse to the vet in a headcollar or a bridle (your choice, as long as your horse is under control).
There are three main parts to the vetting:
- Taking the pulse
- Lumps and bumps
- Trotting Up
Taking the Pulse
The first thing the vet will usually do is take the pulse by listening to the heart with a stethoscope.
The pulse is taken over a full minute, so it is important you train your horse to stand still while this is being done.
At every vetting the pulse must be under 64 beats per minute (bpm) or you will be eliminated.
It is a good idea to practice taking the pulse at home. Stethoscopes can be obtained quite cheaply
Lumps and Bumps
The vet will then check your horse over for any 'lumps and bumps'. If it has any recent injuries,
you should note these down on your vet sheet before the vetting. At the start of the ride the vet
is just making sure any current marks or injuries are noted, and that the horse is fit to start the ride.
At the final vetting, he will be looking for any new marks, for example saddle sores, brushing marks, bruised mouth.
Again, make sure your horse is used to being handled all over before the ride, will allow you to check inside his mouth,
and pick his feet up when asked.
The Trot Up
Finally you will be asked to trot away a certain distance, normally marked with a cone, and then trot back,
to see if your horse is sound. When you trot up, make sure you give your horse plenty of lead rope.
Run along side the horse, so you do not obstruct the vet's view.
At the turn stay on the outside of the horse, again so you do not obstruct the vet's view.
You will need to practise trotting up at home. Make sure your horse will trot out smartly alongside you and does not trail behind you.
If the vet thinks the horse may be lame, he will ask you to trot up again, and if he is still not sure a third time, with one of the other vets watching again. If they cannot decide whether he is lame or not after three trot ups you will be given the benefit of the doubt.
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It is very easy with such a full calendar of rides to just drift from one ride to the next without any sense of purpose, so here are some aspects to consider when planning which rides to enter.
1. to improve the horse and rider at whatever level
2. international endurance rides
3. national competitive endurance rides
4. national graded endurance rides
5. pleasure rides
Where are you now?
A progressive programme over 2-3 years is needed to achieve top honours in the areas 2, 3 and 4 above.
Assess your horse to decide where his talents are. With the help of a good instructor, assess your riding position and ability for training your horse.
Consider ways to achieve fitness of both you and your horse.
Decide what you would like to achieve and what you can realistically achieve within your budget.
Once you have considered these elements and decided on a training programme you can start to plan which competitions to enter.
Whatever level you choose to ride at, similar criteria come into play:
- Recovery time: Time between competitions depends upon the length and severity of the ride as well as the level of experience of the horse. Shorter rides can be used as part of the training programme.
- Travelling time: The length of time spent in the horse box or trailer has to be added to the competition i.e. a longer ride of 40 miles plus in addition to a two and a half hour journey each way may necessitate an overnight stay.
- Selection of class: Look at your long term aims. Consider the venue, terrain and fitness of the horse.
Broaden your horse's experience i.e. give him/her new venues, new routes, different terrain and different competitions including two day rides and endurance rides.
There are many factors to consider when planning your competitive season, the above are just a few of the basics. If in doubt there are experienced endurance coaches who can advise you.
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Vet Gates explained
CER Vet gates and GER mid-way holds and Finish procedure for classes of 56km and over
(There will usually be a separate team of officials to deal with the timing at a vet gate but, where there are only a few riders in the classes with a vet gate or mid-way hold, the main Timekeeper may be responsible for it.)
As the rider returns to the venue (or arrives at an on-course vet gate), the Timekeeper/Vet Gate official enters the Rider Number and Time In on a vet gate card, and gives the card to the rider/crew.
The rider then has 20 minutes from the Time In to present to the Vet Steward (with his/her card!). Experienced riders (and especially those competing in a CER) will want to present quickly, whereas the less experienced may well take longer. (The horse’s pulse must be 64bpm or below.) The Vet Steward should check that the Presentation Time is within the 20 minutes from Time In.
The Hold Time for the class starts at the time of Presentation to the Vet Steward, so it is important that the Vet Steward writes the correct time in the Presentation Time box, adds on the appropriate Hold Time and then completes the Earliest Time Out box and returns the card to the rider/crew for presentation to the vet writer.
If by chance the rider fails the vetting on pulse he/she may re-present once, but only if there is still sufficient time within the 20 minutes allowed from the Time In recorded by the Timekeeper.
In the event of re-presentation the Vet Steward will cross out the first Presentation and Earliest Time Out times and write in the new times, returning the card to the rider/crew. (At some rides there will be a separate Steward available to complete the Time Out at the exit from the vet inspection.)
On completion of successful vetting the rider goes off to do whatever he/she needs to do during the remaining Hold Time, before mounting up and presenting again to the Timekeeper with the time card in order to be allowed to re-start and complete the remainder of the ride.
Finish Cards are issued to the rider/crew by the main Timekeeper at the end of the ride and riders must present for vetting WITHIN 30 minutes of their Finish Time.
The photo below was taken by Allen Gordon Cannon of AGC Photography
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