An endurance Ride is an equestrian athletic event for any breed of horse and rider covering a measured course within a specified maximum time. It may be best described as a cross-country contest of 50 to 100 miles in one day. Under most organizations rules the equine must be at least 60 months old to compete.
Unlike competitive trail or the cross-country part of three day eventing, there is no minimum time in an endurance rides. Horse and rider cover various terrains and other conditions at any speed they choose. In saying that, endurance racing is closely monitored by the equine veterinarians who check these athletes before, during and after the competition. Prior to the start of each ride, all horse must pass a veterinarian exam (vet check). The results are recorded on a vet card which is present at each of the various vet checks through out the ride. There are several vet checks on a 50 mile ride, at each vet check your results are marked on the card so that the vets can monitor the horse continually from check to check for any early signs of fatigue, stress, heat or injury to the horse.
Pulse recovery is one of the most important indicators of physical condition in both the human and equine athlete. A Pulse criteria is set by your head vet and announced at the ride/vet talk given by management prior to the ride. There are also metabolic tests and lameness tests performed at each vet check. Those not meeting criteria are eliminated from the competition.
The first horse and rider team to cross the finish line with a ‘Fit to Continue” vet card passing all criteria for 50 to 100 mile wins! There is also a prestigious award which is Best Condition – This is award to the horse whose overall fitness was the best of the ride finishing in the top 10 horses.
Endurance riding pits riders and horse against both a trail and other competitors. There are no referees or umpires along the trail. In ride camp, on the trail, at vet checks and in the dinning room riders are expected to understand the rules and abide by them. Good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity, and fair play are expected of everyone.