An Endurance Ride is an equestrian athletic event for riders with any breed of horse covering a measured course within a specified maximum time. It may be best described as a cross-country contest with horses traveling 80 to 160 km in one day. Under most organizations’ rules, the equine must be at least 60 months old (5 years) to compete.
Unlike Set Speed or Competitive Trail, there is no minimum time in Endurance Rides. Horse and rider teams cover various terrains and other conditions at any speed they choose. In saying that, Endurance events are closely monitored by the veterinarians who check the equine athletes before, during and after the competition. As in all OCTRA disciplines, prior to the start of each event, all horse must pass a veterinarian exam (vet check). The results are recorded on a vet card which must be presented at each of the various vet checks throughout the Ride. There are several vet checks any endurance ride and at each vet check your results are recorded enabling the vets to monitor each horse continually from check to check for any early signs of fatigue, stress, heat or injury.
Pulse recovery is one of the most important indicators of physical condition in both the human and equine athlete. A pulse criterion is set by the Head Vet/Judge and announced at the Ride/Vet Talk given by Ride Management prior to the ride. Usually at Endurance events the pulse parameter is 64 bpm. There are also metabolic tests and lameness tests performed at each vet check. Those not meeting criteria are eliminated from the competition. The first horse and rider team to cross the finish line with a “Fit to Continue” vet card passing all itemized criteria is the winner. There is also a prestigious award called Best Condition which is won by the horse whose overall fitness was the best of the top ten horses finishing that ride.
Endurance Riding pits the rider/horse teams against both the trail and other competitors. There are no referees or umpires along the trail. In ride camp, on trail, at vet checks and in the dining room, riders are expected to understand the rules and abide by them. Good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity and fair play are expected of everyone.