Monday, July 25, 2005

Jas and Bilbo go the distance

Henry Hoskins
Monday, 25 July 2005

Endurance riding is a tough, demanding sport, racing a horse over an 80 or 160 kilometre course.
Starting in the wee hours of the morning and with four vet checks required during the race it certainly isn't for the faint hearted.

But Jas Carfter loves it.

"What other sport can you ride through the mountains and watch the sunrise," she said.

Crafter recently returned from the NSW State Championships in Manilla where she placed second in lightweight division on Neroli Mitchell's horse 'Bilbo'.

Starting at 2am in the morning Crafter rode for 10 hours and 52 minutes to qualify for the Tom Quilty, the most prestigious endurance event in the country.

Over 70 riders turned out for the event competing in four categories; lightweight, middleweight, heavyweight and junior riders.

Carfter became involved in the sport four years ago through friends Neroli Mitchell and Peter Cooper.

"This was my first 160km race, previously I've only ridden in 80km races," she said.

And Crafter says she'll be a definite starter in the Quilty in Queensland next year.

The sport requires a good understanding of you horses health.

"Obviously you have to listen to how your horse is going," she said.

"Your horse has a vet check the day before the race and four during it so if your push it too hard you'll get vetted out.

"Myself and Peter (Cooper) are just always careful to listen to how the horse is travelling.

"Towards the end of the race I was with the leader but Bilbo was doing it a bit tough so I pulled him up to scratch around to eat grass for about half and hour."

Crafter says Arab horse are generally the best breed for endurance racing due to there slow heart rate and slow muscle twitch.

She generally competes in the middleweight division which she says is more prestigious but rode in the lightweight for Neroli Mitchell to get racing points for 'Bilbo'.

"I'm wasn't sore after the race because you have to be riding them everyday so they are nice and fit," she said.

"You don't just go straight into a 160km race, you build them up over a period time running them in 40 or 80km races."

The sport doesn't have a high profile but has been going since the 1970's according to Crafter.

"There's no other sport like it," she said.

"There would be a race on every weekend around the state but you don't really hear about it.

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