Endurance Riding is a competition to test the competitor’s ability to safely manage the stamina and fitness of the horse over an endurance course in a competition against the track, the distance, the climate, the terrain and the clock.
Diligent application of skill together with a caring, knowledgeable attitude by the rider is vital to be successful. The competition is against the clock over a distance of 160km with five stops for vets to check the horses’ fitness to continue. The competitor who finishes in the shortest time and passes the final vet inspection wins. Horses can be of any breeding but must be at least 8 years old.
Endurance is included in the World Equestrian Games every four years and has either a World or European Championships in every other year.
The endurance competition medals, for both teams and individuals, are decided in one race over 160km (100 miles) where all the competitors start together. It is completed in 6 phases, with 5 ‘vet gates’ where the horses stop and are inspected by a vet before being allowed to continue onto the next phase.
At each gate there is a minimum amount of time the horse is held for, ranging from 30-50 minutes. The clock is still running when a horse arrives at the vet check and runs until the horse is presented to the vet; this is part of the challenge of the competition as riders can gain quite a few places if they present quickly.
At each gate, the horse must be declared fit to continue by passing a set of veterinary criteria which include physical soundness; a number of metabolic tests, such as gut sounds; and achieving a heart rate of 64 beats per minute or less within 20 minutes of arrival.
At the end of the competition there is a vet inspection where the horse must pass all the set criteria and achieve a heart rate of 64 beats per minute or less within 30 minutes to be declared as completing the race.
The individual winner is the rider and horse who finish the race first and pass the final vet inspection.
The team title is awarded to the team with the best combined times from the fastest three of the four team riders, who also must each have passed the final vet inspection.
Meet the British Endurance squad