Want to try your first endurance ride?
I decided to enter my first 20km endurance ride a couple weeks ago and thought I would share my experience.
I was unsure what to expect and quite nervous going alone. I was also riding my OTTB Kenny and didn’t know how he would handle having other horses running past us.
Everyone was very friendly and helpful but I thought it list some general tips -
What to bring -
Paperwork - you have to do a horse declaration and a 10day temperature log.
Enough Food and water for you and your horse.
Electrolytes / molasses (something that makes your horse want to drink) so they don’t get dehydrated.
Heart rate monitor (if you have one)
Buckets and sponges for cooling down your horse.
Comfy clothes to ride in ( we recommend our leggings and sun safe base layer)
Snacks on the ride (I took some gummy bears in my pocket)
Saddle / bridle / saddle pad
( a lot of riders ride in pvc bridles as they are easy to keep)
Hoof boots - many riders put shoes on their horses but if you horse is barefoot then you can use a boot like (scoot boots) to protect their hooves.
When you arrive -
Set up your electric fencing or panels.
If your doing electric it must be double strands and star pickets to get the height.
Go check in and get your riders bib and tracker.
Go in for your vet check.
Make sure you horse is comfortable doing a trot out (run with a loose rein and the horse by your side, to show your horse is sound)
Make sure your horse if comfortable having a check over (heart rate / temperature ect).
We went for a 5km ride to check out some of the track and settle horse into surroundings.
On the day of the ride -
Get ready with plenty of time so you're not rushing.
Be at the start box 5-10mins before your ride start time. All riders must go through the gate within 15mins of the start time and cannot complete.
There are quite a lot of people that enter alone, so you can buddy up with them or ride your own ride.
I found it was nice to start off in a group and as you ride out you find those that are going the same pace as you want. Fast / medium / slow. There are also many experienced riders riding young or new horses that give great advice and tips whilst on the ride.
One being -
Trot in the sun, walk in the shade.
The wind helps keep the body cool when trotting, and then walking in the shade gives the horse good recovery without getting even hotter.
Let your horse stop at the drinking stations so he keeps hydrated. I found my horse would drink when others also stopped to drink so he didn’t feel like he was getting left behind.
Once you get over the finish line you have 30mins to get your horses heart rate down to a minimum of 55 beats.
To help with this many get bucked off water and sponge off the horses shoulders, in between legs, under the belly to help them cool down quickly.
Tip - don’t wet the back of the horse (sometimes this can make muscles seize up and the horse can look lame in the trot out) many put a towel or blanket on the back to keep it warm.
Tip - you can allow your horse to eat a small amount when they finish the race (ideally fresh grass) as lowering the head can reduce their heart rate. However, we don’t recommend given anything substantial as heart rates can increase when a horse eats / digests food.
Once the vet check is complete you need to wait at least an 1-2 hours before travelling home so your horse has time to rest + it’s always nice to stay for the presentation.
- Pace yourself (lots of horses are excited at the beginning of the race, but you don’t want them to tire out too quickly). Better to start of slow and relaxed and build up your pace throughout the race.
- Keep looking ahead. Obviously, it’s nice to chat to others whilst you're riding but we recommend keeping eyes in front so you don’t miss any of the markers telling you where to go. I know many people that have gotten lost and wasted valuable time getting back to the track simply from not seeing a red arrow.
- Enjoy yourself! The 20km is timed, but it is not a race. No point cantering around the track and then not passing your vet check because your horse is too exhausted. What I love about endurance is that horse welfare takes top priority 💕
I hope this is helpful for anyone interested in endurance.