Endurance riding on horses isn’t a new idea: in fact, it probably coincides with the domestication of the horse over 5,000 years ago. Long-distance riding has historically been a necessity for transportation. Today, it’s a respected sport in many countries around the world. First popularized in the 1950, endurance riding is a competitive event for horses and riders that span 50 to 100 miles with periodic stops for veterinary care for the horses. In the U.S., the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) governs the sport. Endurance GB is the governing body in the UK. Globally, the sport is regulated by the Fédération Équestre Internationale, or FEI, which is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The British Equestrian Federation [BEF] has earned a privilege in endurance riding recently: the UK will host four new endurance events at Euston Park, which was venue of the 2012 World Endurance Championships. The events will include rides over 80, 120 and 160 kilometers, and they will take place on four dates throughout the endurance riding season: May 29, June 19, July 16 and August 13. The event is expected to draw competitors from all over the world. Equestrian event organizer The HPower Group will direct the program.
According to Keith Taylor, Chairman and President of the British Equestrian Federation, endurance riding is growing in popularity in many countries around the world.
“Endurance riding is exciting, exhilarating and easy to understand,” he said. “Accessible at entry-level, it is one of the fastest growing equestrian sports in the world.”
John Hudson, Chairman of Endurance GB, said the new events at Euston Park offer the UK an opportunity to restore the reputation of the discipline by enforcing the key values of endurance riding.
“The Board of Endurance GB, working closely with the British Equestrian Federation, is committed to take a proactive role in shaping our global discipline,” he said. “Under the skilled direction of The HPower Group, working closely with the BEF and the FEI, we look forward to a series of technical rides with a focus on the ability of horses to complete the course in the best condition possible.”
For those who excel at the British events, the eye will be on the World Endurance Championships to be held in December of this year at a not-yet-chosen venue. The event was originally schedule to take place in Dubai, but concerns about horse welfare and deaths and allegations of doping have led the FEI to pull the event from the United Arab Emirates. The group has reopened the bidding process for this year’s World Endurance Championship. A final decision about venue will be made in June.
The rules of endurance riding vary from country to country. While any horse breed can compete, the demands of the sport generally favors Arabian horses. While thoroughbreds excel at speed, they seldom have the endurance of Arabians for long distances over uneven terrain.
Unfortunately, not all countries are looked upon kindly for their role in the sport. FEI recently stripped the United Arab Emirates of its right to host the World Endurance Championships due to concerns over horse welfare.