26 March 2009
By Sally Gillespie
Nicky Bertham with her ‘soulmate’, Maverick. Photograph: Alastair Watson
LOCAL endurance riders are saddling up for the first outing of the season this weekend.
The rides at Harestanes cater for beginners or those starting off their horses with a pleasure ride, as well as 16-mile and a 25-mile routes.
Nicky Bertham is secretary of the Borders branch of the Scottish Endurance Riding Club.
She told TheSouthern: "Anyone can do endurance. As long as the horse is fit and sound, then anyone can try it. It is a wonderfully friendly sport, which builds a bond between you and the horse. You're able to ride in the countryside and see some breathtaking views."
There are seven dates in the club's diary this season, including a two-day event at Longnewton in June and some new rides.
The club boasts around 35 members ageing from 12 to 70 – and the 70-year-old completed a 120km (75 miles) ride last year!
Nicky said: "I like endurance because I love riding my horse. It gives me the chance of doing a competitive sport which does not cost as much as eventing.
"You don't need a specific type of horse to do endurance.
"I enjoy the friends you make from all over the country and the chance to travel and help at rides, learning from others, and being able to host an event and offer other riders so much enjoyment."
Pleasure or training rides are up to 30km and distances go up to 160km in one day.
On the day, riders are given a map with the route marked on it. There's also a 'talkround' when organisers talk riders round the route.
Vets check the horse's condition before and after the rides.
There is a grading system in operation for the competitive riders from bronze (two 30km and one 50km rides) to Diamond (completing 160 km in one day).