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Endurance riding is an endurance sport on horseback. It can be compared to cross country skiing, enduro, mountain bike, marathon or rally.
The distances can vary from 40 km up to 160 km. Champion distances, namely the length one rides for SM, Swedish Championship, EM, European Championship, VM, World Championship and other big international competitions stretch over 160 km.
The whole 160 km stretch is divided into six stages, with veterinary checks before starting, five checks during the stages and also one check directly after the finish line.
The timing starts with a joint start for all. When you come back after the first stage you get clocked for an arrival time. You then have 20 minutes to lower the horses pulse rate to 64 beats/min and report to veterinary inspection. This should be done as fast as possible and the service team plays an important role here. When you enter for veterinary inspection, you pass the “intime” and your race clock stops. Resting time starts and it can vary from 30 to 50 minutes, and after that you just go all in for the next stage.
The service team plays an incredibly important part in all this. Out on the track they provide water to cool the horse. We also make short stops to let the horse drink and then the team also supplies the rider with beverage.
It is important to get the horses to drink water so they can run fast for so long, which today is essential to be able to be at the top. The higher the pace on longer distances, the more work from the service team depending on day temperature.
On the way in towards the veterinary check the service team works similar to a depot stop in rally. Everything is done to save important seconds for the next stage. Equipment is removed, the horse is cooled with water in order to quickly lower the pulse to 64 beats/minute. Then moving to vet gate so the race clock is stopped and a thorough check of the horse can be performed.
The least sign of exhaustion, movement disorder or dehydration will disqualify the horse and rider from the competition.
After a completed vet check the horse and rider rest and replenish their energy pending the next stage.
It is therefore essential that the race is prepared in such a way that is suits the particular horse and the best result is when you can easily raise the pace towards the end.
It is good to know your horse well to know exactly how to dispose your race. But the most important of all is to have a great sense of how your horse feels and to adjust the race accordingly. It does happen that you ride a completely new and unknown horse on a race and then it is your sense that determines the outcome.