“Endurance riding is on the increase in the U.S., is among the fastest-growing equestrian sports in Europe, and is the largest in the Middle East,” says Tracy Webb, who operates the program.
“Sounds like the movie Hidalgo,” I told her. “Well, the concept is the same, but you don’t have to go to the Middle East to participate,” she says. “Endurance riding is a rewarding opportunity to bond with an equine athlete and test your mental and physical strength” by participating in races of 25 to 100 miles.
Riders of all ability levels and ages attend training sessions, and then compete on the school’s Arabians.
“Your age and skill level is not nearly as important as attitude,” Webb says, as demonstrated by the performance of a 70-year-old lady who completed 110 miles over two days on her first endurance outing. The King of Malaysia is also a program graduate.
In preparation for the long, fast, journey ,I would be tutored in the mechanical skills necessary to compete safely, and the special equipment employed.
“Since endurance riders pride themselves as innovators, you’ll see different equipment than you may be used to. Items like plastic horseshoes, adjustable saddles, bio-thane bridles, and rump rugs are all common tools.”
“But how do we avoid abusing the animals?” I asked.
“Great emphasis is placed on maintaining the steed’s good health, as evidenced by continual monitoring of its pulse during a race. The last, and most
important, task in a race is getting a completion certifi cate after you cross the finish line,” she says. “Riders must present the horse for a final vet exam. Only if the horse passes is a rider considered to have completed.”
“That sounds exciting,” I thought, and a lot faster pace than the days I spent on pack trips into the backcountry in Yellowstone National Park. On those trips, we covered lots of territory, but at a fairly leisurely pace, and didn’t see another soul.
“Endurance riding is on the increase in the U.S., is among the fastest-growing equestrian sports in Europe, and is the largest in the Middle East”