Endurance riding: ‘The welfare of the horse is paramount in everything that we do’

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British endurance rider Nicola Thorne shared her thoughts on horse welfare in the sport — and explained why all women should give endurance a try

Norfolk-based Nicki Thorne first got a taste for endurance when she was taking part in pleasure rides with her 16.2hh chestnut mare, Alaska, who she lost in 2012 at the impressive age of 29. In her first ever FEI3* 160km race in 2013, the 46-year-old finished in second place — and that same year she was ranked number one in the FEI rankings.

“The welfare of the horse is paramount in everything that we do,” says Nicki.

“During the race itself we have the vets on site throughout the entire duration of the ride, and throughout each of the stages, which we call loops, the horse is checked continuously by the vets to make sure that the horse is in a good condition to carry on.”

Having previously tried everything from showing to jumping, Nicki now has her heart firmly set on endurance and racing Arabs.

“In endurance men and women can compete on an even playing field together and the women are equally as successful as the men.

“[My success] is a huge testament to my team, my crew and my horses and I’m hoping it can send out a great message to women out there who are wanting to compete in this sport — they really can go out there and achieve great things.

“But we really couldn’t do this sport without our crews — they’re a well oiled team, working together and are calm around the horses.”

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“I’m absolutely passionate about my horses and I love the sport of endurance,” she adds. “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing with my horses — the amount of time I can spend with them [in this sport], and the competitive element, mean that for me it’s just the best thing that I could be doing.”