Tag Archive: endurance

  1. Improve your endurance with Nicki Thorne’s top 10 tips

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    Nicki Thorne, who was the world’s number-one endurance rider in 2014, shares her top 10 tips for success. Thorne represented GB at the Europeans last year aboard LR Bold Greyson and is currently listed for this year’s World Championships with LM Bolena. As told to Julie Harding.

    1. The right horse

    A nervous novice horse paired with a novice and/or nervous rider won’t give you the best pleasure ride, so the key is always to be partnered with the right horse for the level you are competing at. One of the main aims in endurance is to go across terrain you wouldn’t usually tackle — and have fun.

    If you have aspirations to compete at FEI level, it is essential that the horse you ride has athletic ability and soundness.

    2. Welfare is crucial

    The welfare of the horse is paramount. It is really important that you understand how your horse will react while on a ride or a race and prepare accordingly.

    Consider working on desensitisation at home before you even go to a competition as if your horse is frightened of the flags, the vets and other horses at the vet gate you’re not going to get his heart rate down.

    If you are increasing the ride distance, work on your horse’s fitness at the speed and distance of your planned ride. There is no point training at a lower speed and having to ride twice as fast during the competition. That is what leads to accidents.

    3. Know the risks

    Endurance is a serious test of both horse and rider and it can be a very long day. It’s essential to read up on what can affect your horse, such as dehydration.

    Don’t be afraid to ask advice before you go, talk to your vet, trainer and other riders and ring your feed manufacturer’s advice line to enquire about diet, supplements and electrolytes.

    4. Train for obedience

    If you have a horse who you think may become excited at the start or when there are other horses around, it will be beneficial to find a trainer and school your horse to maintain control.

    Be aware, though, that even quiet horses can become lit up in company, especially if it is their first experience, so be prepared. A horse who becomes over-excited can be dangerous. It is only by staying safe that you will have an enjoyable day. Also school to perfect your rhythm, another essential element for a comfortable ride.

    5. Be prepared

    Packing early will keep stress at bay. If you’re not sure what to pack, speak to other endurance riders and see what they take.

    If you feel you are missing something useful at a ride, make a note when you get home and add it to your list. Also make a travel plan so that you arrive early and have plenty of time before the off.

    6. Know the basic rules

    Do some homework to ensure that you understand the basic rules, whether you are a first timer at the sport or are planning to step up a level. Confusion can cause things to go wrong.

    7. Take a crew

    Endurance is a group event and once you reach a certain level it will be essential to have a crew. Even at the lower levels it is fun to take along other people, such as a friend or partner. It is, after all, a good way to get them involved in what you do.

    As you progress through the levels, it is also important that the person accompanying you has been through the learning curve with you. What many people don’t realise is that endurance is an incredibly sociable sport and there are always people around to advise and help you, such as vets and farriers, and they will always be on hand once you reach national level competitions.

    8. Study your route

    Be aware that you are going to ride a route and you will be given a map. Make sure that you study it. I always write the colour of the loop I have to ride on my hand, or use a similar coloured band on my wrist.

    I invariably ask the secretary or the ride organiser how the course is marked — sometimes this will be with arrows on the ground or sometimes with signs on trees and often there will be different colours for different distances. Getting lost will undoubtedly ruin your race.

    9. Pick tried and trusted tack

    Never use anything on the day that you haven’t used before. That lovely new girth is likely to rub when used for the first time. Therefore ensure that your tack is comfortable for you and your horse.

    Any safe saddle and bridle is acceptable, but know the rules regarding spurs (they are not allowed), whips (they can only be of a certain length at lower national levels) and weights, as there are restrictions.

    10. Feed your passion for progression

    Don’t be afraid to try something new or go up a level. It’s common to have doubts about progressing through the ranks.

    My advice would be to do your research, speak to other riders, train for the new distance and be prepared. Stewarding a ride and talking to those in the know is a brilliant way to learn what goes on.

    For more information on endurance, including the rules and dates of fixtures, log on to www.endurancegb.co.uk.

    Image: endurance race by Buba Noi via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  2. FEI speaks out against UAE endurance

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    At last, a positive reaction from the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) to the distressing happenings that are occurring in endurance events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Practices that are seemingly acceptable during races in the UAE include: hanging on to a horses ear whilst cantering, pulling the head down in the belief it lowers heart rate, excessive speeds, the use of medication and the continual change of riders for one horse – indeed a person need never have ridden on a particular horse before they set foot to complete 100 or so miles together, which never happens in other disciplines.

    And whilst there are many practical uses for duct tape in the stable yard, taping over blinkers leaving just narrow splits for a horse to supposedly see through is not one that many of us had previously thought of.

    Today (26 February), the FEI has issued a statement to the effect that it has removed the two remaining international endurance events, scheduled to be held in the UAE in March 2015, from the FEI calendar. The FEI states: “This is an emergency measure to protect horse welfare and to preserve the integrity of the FEI rules and regulations at FEI events.”

    The removal of the events is an unprecedented move by the FEI and a public humiliation for the UAE. It also means a lost opportunity for riders and horses to qualify for international events, albeit this will not have such a huge impact.

    It’s taken time for the FEI to finally comment and act on the unpleasant goings on during races in the UAE. Perhaps the strong responses from other national federations has finally got through to them? Hopefully now they’ve realised they need to take a pro-active lead in this sorry state of affairs…  their previous line was that the events concerned took place during national competitions and therefore were nothing to do with international rules or the governing body.

    Two days ago the national equestrian federation of Switzerland, a country that is also home of the FEI head office in Lausanne, announced they were ‘outraged’ by recent events. It also reserved the decision for its riders not to compete in next year’s Elite World Endurance Championships in Dubai.

    Denmark has also imposed restrictions on her elite riders while Belgium, Australia and Germany have all also made public statements. We’re now waiting for something similar from the British Equestrian Federation or at least something reiterating that the rules should be strictly applied during races in the UAE.

    My award-winning colleague Pippa Cuckson has fought a long and often lonely battle, to improve the welfare (and life) of endurance horses in the UAE. Things came to a head with the recent world-wide postings of the horrific pictures of the horse, Splitters Creek Bundy, being pushed from behind whilst suffering two simultaneously broken forelegs. One hopes that his subsequent death has not been in vain and that Pippa’s endless campaign, which has now been swelled by the voices of many, will mean that ultimately, the so called sport of endurance in the UAE will continue on the same lines and with the same rules that apply else-where in the world.

    To read the FEI statement