Endurance is one of those sports you either hate or you love. Well I love it. Over the years of competing in the UK & overseas I have seen so much — from different ways of riding & crewing to totally different types of countryside.
In an Endurance competition you can do anything from 20 to 100 miles in a day at all different levels. This year I achieved my first 100mile ride in a day out in France. We travelled out on the Monday to arrive at the venue on the Tuesday afternoon/evening. Wednesday was a day for the horses to rest before vetting on Thursday. Once the vetting is over its time to get things ready for the race, which includes setting up a crewing area you enter at every vet gate. This is also where you wash the horse off before presenting to the vet. Once presented to the vet you have a 30 – 40 minute wait for the horse to have a rest & eat then its back onto the next loop.
After every loop — a maximum of 40km (20miles) — you have a compulsory vetting where the horse’s heart rate must be under 64 beats per minute within 20mins and they must also be sound and not metabolically compromised. Once passing the vetting, you then go into what is called a hold area where the horse has rest for 30-40 minutes. During this time the horse can eat, drink & also have treatment with a massage pad or such thing.
Back in France, it’s 5am the following morning ‘Race Day’ and I get up to feed the two horses before starting the race at 6am in darkness. The first loop went well before hitting lots of mud which slowed us down. The aim is to get round at a average speed of 14kph. Unfortunately the mud was so bad we didn’t reach this speed but we did complete the distance — starting at 6am and finishing at 10.15pm. In the round up of this event Cziko & myself came in 19th out of about 50 starters.