Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Great Britain: Enduring the elements! A first experience of Endurance riding - Full Story

May 16 2016
by Magic's rider

A well-executed event showcasing an exhilarating and technical sport which had the welfare of the horses at the heart of it...

Before actually attending my first endurance race my knowledge on the sport was minimal. I held three fairly rudimental opinions on what it entailed. Firstly competitive endurance riding was galloping flat out for hours on end. Secondly the majority of competitors in the UK were happy hackers. Lastly that the sport had been subjected to many years of negative press showing images of exhausted horses brought to their knees in foreign countries.

Given my rather crude presuppositions on endurance you might be asking yourself how I found myself volunteering at such an event. My livery yard abuts 600 acres of forest called “The Kings Forest”, situated about three miles from Bury St Edmunds in the heart of Suffolk. My yard is predominantly filled with hairy cobs and naughty natives but amongst these reside two very handsome and light footed Arab endurance horses who have been staying over the winter. Since their arrival I have been intrigued by these magnificent animals and what their “job” entails.

Each year two FEI endurance rides take place at The Kings Forest and our livery yard is utilised to provide FEI secure stabling. A week before the spring ride my yard manager opportunistically asked the liveries if anyone fancied helping one of the FEI riders who was low on crew – seemingly the only one not to have checked the weekend’s weather forecast I keenly volunteered.

So at some unearthly time in the morning I arrived at the yard to meet with Andrea Champ – the FEI rider who had somewhat unwittingly taken up my offer of help! Andrea had two horses competing over the weekend both entering their first FEI 1* race of 80km. Saturday was the turn on Magic ‘A touch of magic’ a ten year old Arab x Appaloosa – who seemed infinitely more excited about the early start than I did. Breakfast finished (for Magic) we loaded up to get to the race start...

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