Endurance riding explained

Want to try endurance riding with your horse? With advice from Julie Martin, a UKCC Level 3 endurance coach, we've compiled this handy guide so you can know what to expect.

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What is endurance riding? 

Endurance riding sees both horse and rider tackling long distances in a set amount of time. The distances can vary in their length - one of the most famous long-distance rides is the Mongol Derby, which is 1000km long.

Thankfully they're not all this long and there's plenty of races up and down the country for you to have a go at! 

How fit does my horse have to be before I can try endurance riding?

Most healthy, sound horses who are ridden regularly should be able to do 32-40km (20 to 25 miles) at 8-10kph (5-6mph), which is what's required at Novice level, but there are shorter pleasure rides that can be ridden at a slower speed. 

If you want to progress further, you'll have to spend more time building your horse's fitness.

There are a number of UKCC endurance coaches around the country who can help you plan and prepare for competitions or pleasure rides to help you and your horse succeed.

Local groups of Endurance GB also run training sessions and workshops. 

Finally, remember you have to be reasonably fit too, so up your cardio exercise. 

How can I find out what endurance riding events are like? 

It's a good idea to go along to an endurance ride to watch or volunteer. This will give you an insight into what's involved.

How can I find out about endurance riding events?

There are endurance rides throughout the country, with the main season being from March to October. 

Endurance GB is the national governing body for the sport, and you can find a list of rides on their website (link at bottom of the page). 

Ride organisers can be contacted if you have any queries about the classes, and there are also local groups who run social and training rides. 

In some areas, Sport Endurance also run rides, see www.sportendurance.co.uk

How can enter?

Ride entries can be made online or by post, and if you have any difficulty with the forms, the ride organiser will be happy to help. 

What happens at an endurance riding event?

You'll receive instructions detailing your number and vetting time, as well as a map of the route. 

The routes are usually well marked, but you should carry your own map. 

On arrival, collect your number from the secretary and check the notice board for any updates to the route or rider information.  

At a national ride, you'll take your horse to a farrier to check his feet, and next is the vetting. Your horse's heart rate will be taken and he'll be checked for soundness.

When you're tacked up, you head over to the start and follow the route. Once through the finish, you have up to half an hour to prepare your horse for the final vetting. 

After then you'll need to take your number back and collect your rosette. 

Most importantly - enjoy yourself! That's what it's all about. 

Find out more about the sport at www.endurancegb.co.uk