British endurance riding is to introduce two new categories in the sport in a bid to offer more to existing members and develop interest in the UK.
John Yeoman, chairman of Endurance GB (EGB), told H&H that the new campaigns answered members requests.
We want to bring people in at the bottom of our sport, and thats pleasure riding, he said. A number of our members wanted to have a pleasure riding championship or ride without racing.
The 2008 Pleasure Ride Championship, sponsored by insurance company KBIS, is open to all competitors taking part in any pleasure ride organised by EGB, Scottish Endurance Riding Club (SERC), the British Horse Society and affiliated riding clubs.
Pleasure ride distances vary between 10-40km, and one point is awarded per 1km covered successfully. The combination with the most points at the end of the year wins a championship trophy.
Although people are not required to join EGB to qualify for the trophy, riders must complete at least four rides organised by EGB or SERC.
We hope to encourage people to come and see what were doing and maybe have a go at an endurance ride too, said Mr Yeoman. Were also organising a series of endurance rides for people who dont want to race, called the Performance Equestrian Endurance Challenge Series.
This series also runs on a points-for-distance-completed basis, but over multi-day rides of up to 80km per day. As well as a trophy, there is £500 to the end-of-season winner, £300 for second place and £200 for third.
Nottinghamshire-based Denise Hutchins regularly takes part in pleasure rides, but she said the new points system and trophy would not lure her into competing.
As a pleasure rider it probably wouldnt interest me, she said. I like to get a rosette at the end of the day, but I do pleasure rides because I dont want to compete.
She added: Im thinking about joining EGB anyway to do a novice season with my youngster, but I do think of pleasure rides and endurance riding separately.
Mr Yeoman denied that the move is directed as competition to Sport Endurance, a breakaway organisation set up two years ago, saying he hopes Sport Endurance will be part of it one day.
EGB currently has 2,000 members.