"The Marathon" Endurance Racing!
How Far & Fast Can You Go?
By Burak Demir
Endurance riding (or Racing) is what some of us know as “The Marathon” of equestrian sports. Acknowledged as a formal sport in 1955 It is a race which is based on controlled long-distance. Recognized by the FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) and the AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) The winning horse, is the first one to cross the finish line. But crossing the finish line is not easy task. The route is controlled with vet stations in order to maintain the health and welfare of the horse and rider.
In the United States endurance races consists of routes that are 50 or 100 miles (160 km) in length. For shorter races LD’s (Limited Distance rides) are organized for the novices in the sport or the training of young horses. In order to be successful, it’s important that riders support the pace of their horses, with appropriate riding styles to fit the terrain. This is because the competition consists of several stages and the time is kept separately for each. At the end of each stage, a mandatory veterinary check is performed and only with a clear health status can a rider continue. The pulse of the horse has a key role here. As well as, a lameness test, dehydration, and mucosa controls are also conducted. The horse which finishes the trail as soon as possible and within the best health status is declared the winner of the competition.
What breeds make the best Endurance horses?
Any breed can compete in Endurance competitions. However, at the top levels Arabians seem to be dominating thanks to its natural endurance abilities and stamina!
Arabian Horse Association-AHA is a major equine association serving 85,600 Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horse owners across North America. AHA registers and maintains a database of more than one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses and administers approximately $2 million in annual prize money. AHA produces championship events, recognizes over 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities, education, and programs that promote breeding and ownership.
Is there a uniform? Or is there any special tack required to participate?
Endurance riding is less formal compared to other equestrian competitions, so, riders are free to choose more comfortable outfits. For competitions organized by FEI, all of the riders must wear riding breeches, an equestrian helmet, a shirt with collar and correct footwear. (Article 817 of FEI Endurance Rule Book)
What are the main events?
Meydan FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders & Juniors 2016 (From 2 to 4 of September) The FEI European Endurance Championship for Young Riders and Juniors is organized every two years. It is one of the most important European competitions, leading to the discovery of promising young Endurance riders. Particularly directed for riders between 14 and 21 years, it’s an important foundation of future professional Endurance riders.
The last edition was in 2014, in Verona, Italy.
This year, for the first time, this competition will take place in Portugal, in the Rio Frio Equestrian pole, from 2 to 4 of September. Over 20 countries are expected to bring over 100 riders and a total of 400 participants.
There are also two well-known American 100-mile (160 km) endurance rides. Commonly known as the Tevis Cup, held in California, and the Old Dominion ride, held in Virginia. Top riders and horses also go on to compete at the World Equestrian Games, the Endurance World Championships, and regional championships such as the Pan-Am Games and the European Endurance Championships.
Endurance is becoming a popular discipline throughout the world, and is nowadays, not only the second biggest equestrian discipline in competition number and participants, but the highest growing. According to FEI, more than 900 Endurance competitions are held every year, and the discipline has more than 6000 riders and 10000 horses registered.