Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New Zealand: Hundreds expected for endurance champs

Wairapa-Times Age
By Gary Caffell

The Wairarapa Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Club will host the national endurance championships at the Whareama Domain on Easter weekend, April 11 to 13, next year.

Entries are expected to run into the hundreds for the event which can be likened to a cross-country mega-marathon for horses with the longest "race" covering 160kms and taking at least 10 hours to complete.

Wairarapa club president Shane Dougan says Whareama offers ideal conditions for endurance riding with flat to rolling country allowing for some faster stretches but also enough hills to provide an excellent test of stamina.

He said organising the logistics for accommodating, feeding, watering and co-ordinating so many people and horses would be a huge task, and one only made possible by the generosity and support of the Whareama community.

Endurance rides are held in several loops of up to 40km each, and horses must pass rigorous vet checks for any signs of fatigue or injury after each loop before being allowed to continue.

The longer events begin in the middle of the night to avoid having to race in the heat of the day, and often riders don't finish until late the following day.

Not surprisingly, it takes years of training to develop an endurance horse to peak performance and the sport is considered the ultimate test of strength, fitness and stamina & for both horses and riders.

Some overseas competitors could be amongst the starters next Easter with the defending champion in the 160km race being Wairarapa's very own Jenny Champion.

She and her horse Freckles came with a late burst to win the title in the South Island

last year.
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