Saturday, June 06, 2009

Great Britain: Winning spell of endurance

Perthsire Advertiser
Jun 5 2009 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday

PERTHSHIRE rider Kirstie Graham and her lionhearted pony, Arabelle, emerged supreme in the ultimate endurance challenge – 100 miles in one day – at the Bahrain Festival of Endurance in Nottingham.

Kirstie, from Abernethy, explained: “One hundred miles in one day is the ultimate endurance goal. It is tough, gruelling, technical and horse and rider must forge an incredible partnership.

“Endurance riding has strict vetting parameters. A 160km race ride is run over six stages, with the horses being checked by vets after each stage. Horses can be failed on lameness, high heart rate or if they are showing any signs of dehydration or distress.”

Mum-of-two Kirstie, who is the current Scottish Endurance Champion, won convincingly, more than an hour ahead of the rest of the competition, on her Arab x Welsh 13.3hh pony Arabelle (Bella).

The Bahrain royal family sponsors the event, which is based in Thorseby estate in the area known as the Dukeries.

Kirstie continued: “Bella cantered out of the last vet gate without a care in the world. It was getting late and we were on the ‘dig deep’ stage – and she kept on digging deep. It was on this lap I allowed myself to acknowledge that if I finished the ride, I would win. Coming back to the finish, vets, crews and spectators had gathered to cheer us on. Bella surged forward, ears pricked and we floated home.”

Kirstie will be competing to retain her Scottish Champion title at the Scottish Endurance Championships, which will take place at Scone Palace on June 26-28.

As well as the longer distances, the event run by the Scottish Endurance Riding Club (SERC) will provide classes for everyone, including three different ‘Pleasure Rides’ of around 20km which are open to non-members of SERC.

Further details can be found at http://www.perthendurance.co.uk/

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