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Rider Profiles

In response to suggestions at the Wessex BAM we will be running monthly member profiles to find out how people got involved in endurance and what it is they love about our sport.

Alice Loten
&
Warrens Hill Kizmet

Alice & Kizmet crossing the finish line after the 120km FEI ** at Kings Forest, Photo courtesy of David Saunders Photography

Horse Breed: Arab


Horse Age: 13

What type of rides do you enter? 

 All types of ride from PR to FEI

How did you get into Endurance? 
My Mum competed in graded rides in 1980s/90s and introduced me to Endurance as a Pony Club alternative.

What do you most enjoy about Endurance rides? 
Spending time with my wonderful horse and riding in different places around the country.

What’s your greatest Endurance achievement to date? Completing 160km FEI*** with Kizmet

What aspirations do you have for the coming year?
To have fun!

What’s your top tip for crewing / vet gate/ final vetting / trot up? 
Don't stress about it! If your crew get lost or you forget a piece of kit (it happens!) see it as a challenge and maybe even an opportunity to make friends!

Why would you recommend endurance riding to other people? 
Endurance has something for everyone: the excitement of a mass start or a racing finish, an opportunity to enjoy the countryside, a social outing with friends or spending time alone with your horse and the thrill of a challenge.

Sally Rowe
&
Brownbread Easter Rabbit

Sally & Rabbit at Barbury Castle, Photo courtesy of True to You photography

How many days a week do you ride?
I try and ride 4 days a week when building up to the season ( although working full-time, dark days and weather can make this challenging). Once the season is in full swing it doesn’t take much to keep her ticking over as she is a naturally active pony (!) and lives out. We are lucky to have fantastic hacking around us so making the most of the terrain on our doorstep is key.

What’s your top tip for crewing / vet gate/ final vetting / trot up? 
Get to the venue early and get organised! I would love a crew buddy (any volunteers?!) but we are usually crew-less. To start with it was all a bit panicky and chaotic with tack and sloshes flying around and me endlessly losing the little scrap of paper with the time on it! We now have a drilled-down system - getting everything ready before you set off is crucial. Oh and look pathetic (not hard!) - When people see me and Rabbit they usually take pity and sling us the odd slosh!

Why would you recommend endurance riding to other people? 
It’s the perfect progression for anyone who enjoys hacking but would love something a bit more challenging that involves a rosette! You just learn so much about yourself and your pony and consequently become better attuned as a rider and from a welfare point of view. Plus, if me and Rabbit can do it, absolutely anyone can!

Horse Breed: Highland

Horse Age: 12

What type of rides do you enter? PRs & GERS

How did you get into Endurance? 
Process of elimination! Me and Rabbit tried Trec (scary obstacles and she struggled with SLOW canter!); dressage (she got bored and when she’s bored she’s naughty); jumping (she thought it was the puissance, I thought I was going to die!). The only thing we could just about cope with was hacking but even then most of the time I was utterly terrified. Rabbit is a quirky madam and very spooky. I saw some photos of EGB routes marked with orange flags and feared the worst... despite this I entered a PR in 2015 - it was a terror ride to say the least. Rabbit pulled like a steam train for 22k and would have gone round again given the chance. Never again. I volunteered, attended unmounted EGB training days and just sort of hovered round the edges of EGB. Finally, on Jan 1st 2017 - with a large glass of wine - I decided to give Rabbit and Endurance a second chance and signed up as an Associate member. A kind EGB stalwart helped me with basic training and escorted me on my first ride... Snowdrop 2017...finishing was the most wonderful and emotional moment. I was so happy and cried buckets!

What do you most enjoy about Endurance rides? 
Finishing! No, actually it’s the friendliness of the sport and the fact that it’s open to all levels of rider and horse...yes even a big fluffy naughty Highland pony! I do love the finish though and the feeling you have worked hard and achieved something as a team; it’s a very bonding experience for horse and rider.

What’s your greatest Endurance achievement to date? 
We’ve been lucky to have a great first season and to win the Novice trophy and finish 17th nationally all so exciting... but none of that beats coming back from that Snowdrop Ride and feeling euphoric. I remember thinking we can do this, we really can do it. It was such a huge mental and physical achievement to overcome all my nerves and marked the beginning of our endurance journey.

What aspirations do you have for the coming year? 
Hoping to upgrade to open (scary and a bit grown-up!) and just see whether we can complete a ride or two at the more demanding speeds. I would love to have a crack at a low-level two-day ride at some point in the future - I rather think Rabbit would too!

April Walsh 
&
Erray Mercury

April and Erray Mercury at Bonham Sep 2018. Photo courtesy of True to You photography

Why would you recommend endurance riding to other people? I would recommend endurance to people who enjoying hacking, who aren’t so worried about placings/rosettes (though they are lovely to receive at the end). Those that would like to go exploring around the countryside with minimal road work. You can go alone, with a group or if you don’t know anyone but would like company, you can usually ask and someone will happily ride along with you and it’s a great way to meet new people. Also, the endurance community are such a wonderful bunch of supportive, friendly people and always happy to lend a hand where needed.

Horse Breed: Highland

Horse Age: 13

What type of rides do you enter? Pleasure Rides

How did you get into Endurance? Through Mercury’s owner.

What do you most enjoy about Endurance rides? Getting to ride across the country with Mercury while enjoying the views (which he always likes to stop and look too!).

What’s your greatest Endurance achievement to date? My greatest achievement to date would be completing all our rides we entered last year, safe and sound especially with the hot weather and hard ground conditions.

What aspirations do you have for the coming year? I am hoping to aim to try novice rides this year, especially with the shorter novice distances available now as I feel they’re more suited for me and Mercury due to us being happy doing the distances we do but also to Judy (Mercury’s owner) and Tara who we ride with and have completed pleasure pairs with, as Tara is 27 this year!

How many days a week do you ride?/ What is your training regime? I ride between 3-5 days a week. Generally usually hacking with varied distances and hill work as we are quite lucky with the bridleways in our area. I tend school on terrible weather days as luckily I have access to an indoor school, though our schooling does need some work but we both prefer a hack. We also try go on a few local fun rides at the start of the season which are a great way to help with getting an outing in the lorry as a preparation for future rides.

What’s your top tip for crewing / vet gate/ final vetting / trot up? For me, as I only do trot ups for pleasure rides, I will always use a bridle with Mercury on the trot up before the ride as he knows it’s his time to show off and can get silly. He has been known to do a “highland fling” (as named by a vet at three rivers in 2016) where he rears, kicking out his front feet, throwing his head around on the turn to trot back towards the vet which always makes everyone laugh.