Equestrian events have received some level of criticism from animal rights activists but the fact is that all equestrian events have their origins in the ancient past. Indeed, people have been domesticating and riding horses for millennia for a variety of reasons from war to transport to pleasure. Without the horse, human civilisation would not be where it is today!
Of course, there are equestrian events that have a much more modern historical context. Endurance riding has its roots in the war horses who were being trained by Polish and Russian military units during WW1. These horses had to be able to ride long distances and carry weights of up to 150 kilograms. This means that they had to be strong and fit.
Modern Endurance Events
Endurance events today focus on long-distance rides of up to 50 kilometres or more. Importantly, the horses are checked at compulsory holds along a designated route for their health, including dehydration and levels of exhaustion. If a horse fails any of these veterinary tests, he or she is taken out of the race immediately. In fact, a winner of the endurance race can only be officially declared if his or her horse has passed all of the veterinary tests.
The Strategy behind Endurance Racing
In many ways, modern endurance racing references our long and intimate history with horses as a species. Every rider needs to have an intimate understanding of not only his or her horse but also the race and the terrain itself. During the course of a single race, the rider must be able to understand when and where to push his or her mount and whether or not the horse can be pushed at those times.
In this context, every rider must be extremely skilled at being able to read his or her horse, his or her condition, and the terrain. He or she must also understand when it is important to stop and rest, when it is important to simply canter to preserve energy, and when it is important to move at speed. The fact that the race is so lengthy makes this a very difficult and exhausting process for both rider and horse.
Keeping up with Events
There are a number of official organisations dedicated to endurance racing and it is a sport that appeals to those who love horses and the concept of being involved in a race that emphasises the bond between rider and mount. Many of these organisations maintain and promote an official endurance ride calendar. This allows everyone participating to know when and where each event is being held.
Horses are loved the world over and endurance riding allows riders to bond with their horses and participate in events that have a rich and storied history. For any lover of animal sports and those who enjoy the intimate relationship between rider and horse, endurance racing takes it to a whole new level.