Endurance is the FEI's 2nd most popular discipline and the fastest-growing
Endurance riding is the fastest growing equestrian sport in the world; indeed there is no better way to see the countryside than on the back of a horse. Endurance is one of the few sports where men and women compete alongside each other, with equal opportunities, from introductory level right up to World Champs, and where families can take part together with children and teenagers riding alongside adults.
Endurance rides are races which vary in distance between 40 and 160kms and are usually covered in a single day unless otherwise advised. Non-competitive introductory rides of less than 40km are also held for those who want to do shorter distances. Rides are held throughout the country, starting in August and usually finishing in May. There are three championship events held each a year - the North and South Island Championships and the National Championships which are moved from North to South in alternate years.
The horse with the fastest time is the winner providing the horse meets the 'fit to continue' criteria as determined by a veterinary staff. The horses are monitored by veterinarians throughout the ride at predetermined check points and will be withdrawn from the ride if they are judged to be unsound or metabolically unfit. Each ride has mandatory rests or 'holds' for the horses throughout the ride.
Horse welfare is the highest priority in endurance and all endurance rides must have a registered vet in attendance. We have a long register of endurance vets and many of these have FEI status. Many of these also travel overseas to vet at major national and international endurance events.
Although most endurance rides are technically 'races' many (if not most) riders participate for completion rather than placing. To these riders the satisfaction of completing the distance on a sound horse is the prize.
New Zealand has a grading system based on levels. From Novice, Intermediate, Open through to FEI Level. To move through the grades, kilometres are awarded for successful completions, and these are recorded on a central database as well as in the horse's logbook which is compulsory equipment. Once the horse has done the required kilometres at each level set out in the Discipline Rules, the horse may be re-graded.