Endurance GB (EGB) has introduced a “try before you buy” scheme this season, in an attempt to promote the competitive sport to the high numbers of pleasure riders taking part in unaffiliated events.
Maggie Maguire, EGB’s vice chairman, says the initiative aims to attract the many riders who are put off taking the step to become more competitive because of vetting procedures at affiliated events.
“EGB will give people who do pleasure rides, but are not members, tickets to a couple of affiliated rides so they can try it out and see if they like it,” she says.
The scheme will give an unaffiliated rider the opportunity to take part in a maximum of two set-speed rides of up to 34km at the cost of £25 per ride, plus the normal entry fee. Riders must have third-party insurance or will be required to pay an extra £3 for insurance cover on the day of the ride.
Maguire is keen to dispel the myths that set-speed rides are beyond the reach of pleasure riders, or that the vetting procedure is something to be feared.
“The vetting is quite a straight-forward process which is done solely for the welfare of the horse,” she explains. “It is extremely unlikely that a horse who is fit enough to enjoy regular active hacks lasting two to three hours would fail to pass the vetting at the end of a 34km ride.”
The initial vetting takes place before the rider sets out and includes taking the horse’s heat beat, trotting up in-hand for soundness, examining the horse’s mouth and back for signs of bruising and checking that the horse is suitably shod. The procedure is then repeated 30mins after horse and rider complete the ride to ensure the horse has not suffered from its exertions.
“The horse’s heart beat must be below 64 beats per minute at both vettings,” explains Maguire. “The average horse’s heart beats around 46 times per minute at rest, so this figure allows adequate leeway for excitement at the start of a ride, and 30mins is plenty of time to allow the heart to return to normal before the final vetting takes place.”
Concerns about completing the ride within a set time are also believed to put some riders off.
“The speed of rides for novice horses is very achievable and most riders who regularly take part in pleasure rides ride those at around the right speed. As long as riders keep their horses active, rather than slopping along on a loose rein, they are likely to make the time without any problems.”
For more information and to apply for the tickets, contact EGB, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2RP, via email email@example.com or (tel: 02476 698863).