The sport of endurance involves horse and rider tackling long-distances at a set speed in a competitive environment. The rides vary in length and terrain, which allows a wide range of horse types and riding abilities to take part.
Ensuring the horses' welfare is at the heart of endurance riding with horses having to pass vet checks during and at the end of rides. Vets will only allow horses to continue or pass a horse at the end of the ride if they are declared ‘fit to continue’. If the vet is not happy with any horse's condition, they can prevent them from continuing. A rider whose horse does not recover sufficiently in a set time at the end of an endurance ride will be eliminated. The theory at higher levels is the fitter the horse, the quicker they recover and the more advantage they can gain in the vet checks.
Unfortunately the sport has been tarnished at international level by the actions of some riders, who appear to have a “win at all costs” mentality, rather than putting their horse's welfare first. A number of horses have died as a result. The use of prohibited substances in the sport is another cause of concern.
The FEI has taken action to tighten up the rules around the sport, but there is still considerable concern surrounding the sport at the highest level in the UAE.
Endurance GB, is the governing body for the sport of Endurance in the UK. They organise rides for all levels of rider across the country, accessing and utilising ancient routes and rights of way.