Home' Smart Farmer : March 2013 Contents March 2013
Jagstar in the
Placegetters in the Australian Stockhorse, lady rider class:
(left to right) first, Wendy Nichele on Must Park Benvenuto;
second, Felicity Green on Lake Eyre Cougar; third, Jane Allen
on Parkamass Seville.
LXXVII -- Mr
Fox to his
Endurance riders stay the course
ENDURANCE riding is a relatively
young sport in Australia, having been
officially recognised in 1966.
It encourages horsemanship and the
development of that rapport between
horse and rider that only a rider can
understand, without requiring the
'killer-instinct, 'win-at-all-costs' atti-
tude seen in so many sports.
The purpose of the ride is to accept
the challenge, to stay the course, to
ride to the end. As the endurance rid-
ers say, "to complete the course is to
The standard ride is 80 kilometres,
but 'introductory' rides of 20km and
'training' rides of 40km are available
for novice riders and horses to ease
themselves gently into the sport.
State Championships and the leg-
endary 'Quilty Cup' cover 160km. To
ride that distance sounds gruelling,
and it is, but rules are designed to take
the horses' welfare into account at
Veterinary checks are held before the
start of the ride, at the end of each
'leg' of about 40km to ensure that the
horse is fit to continue, and at the con-
clusion of the ride.
The officiating vet makes his assess-
ment on a number of criteria, the most
important being the horse's heart
recovery rate. There is a maximum time
limit of about nine hours for an 80km
Horses must be a minimum of 4.5
years old to take part in a training ride,
at least five to compete the full 80km,
and a minimum of six to attempt a dis-
tance of 160km.
The horse's age is determined by its
actual date of birth, not the standard
There are four levels of competition
-- three determined by the weight the
horse carries, and a fourth 'junior' class
for riders aged 17 and under, in which
weight is not a factor.
Weight divisions are lightweight --
horses carrying less than 73 kilograms
total weight (including rider, saddle
and any other equipment the rider
requires), middleweight -- 73-90kg, and
heavyweight -- more than 91kg.
Awards are given for the fastest fin-
ishing times, subject to the veterinary
inspection, and also for the horse
deemed by the vet to be in the best
condition at the end of the ride.
South Australian Endurance Riders
Association member Shirley Ellis has a
long involvement with the sport and
explained its appeal to riders of all
"Any fit and healthy rider and horse
is able to complete the shorter training
rides without much trouble at all," she
"Our association has about 60 riding
members. The youngest is about 13,
and our oldest rider, Bob Gurr, is 83.
Bob recently completed a 160km ride
on his home-bred mare Bindii bint
Grevillea, and shows no signs of wanti-
ng to cut back on his hours in the sad-
Choice of a suitable horse is a mat-
ter of personal preference. Breeding is
not an important issue, although it is
fair to say that the Arab or part-bred
Arab, with its legendary stamina, is the
first preference for many experienced
Bringing the horse to peak fitness
can be hard work, but once the horse
is fit it maintains fitness levels well.
An endurance horse usually has no
trouble completing an 80km ride every
three weeks or so. Of course, a longer
recovery time is necessary for the
"Many of our riders will just main-
tain a steady trot throughout most of
the ride," Shirley said.
"Water is always available right
around the course, and it's most impor-
tant that the horses be allowed to
drink as much as they need.
"Some riders also let their horses
stop and graze for a bit during the
ride, and if no grazing is available,
organisers usually go ahead and leave
hay at several points."
There are different locations
throughout the State where the
endurance riders association conducts
rides during their season, which usual-
ly lasts from March to early November.
"With the long rides, competitors
arrive the day before for their vet
inspection and set off in the early
hours of the morning, riding in the
dark with lights on their helmets and
little illuminated arrows pointing the
way around the course, and on the
160km rides they often start and finish
in the dark," Shirley said.
The pinnacle of Australian
endurance riding is the world-famous
The 'Quilty' began with a bet
between the legendary 'RM' Williams
and Tom Quilty, a major cattleman
from the Kimberleys. The bet was to
ride 100 miles in 24 hours, and Quilty
donated $1000, which was used to buy
the gold cup which was named after
The Quilty silver buckle -- awarded
to every rider who finishes the course
-- has almost the same legendary sta-
tus.After all, to complete the course is
• Need to know more?
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Choosing a suitable horse
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