Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Zealand: Mandy and Copper grab national title

9th July 2009

MANDY Walton of Toko was delighted last month to pick up the title of Endurance New Zealand Junior Distance Rider of the Year.

The 17-year-old won the North Island Junior Endurance championships at Easter and now with her horse Copper she has picked up the national title.

Endurance riding involves riding up to nine hours a day following markers cross-country without overtaxing your horse. At the end of each event the horses are vetted, and if their heartbeat is over 64 beats per minute you're out.

"You've got to take your time and really know your horse," said Mandy.

Mandy has been riding since she was six but only started endurance riding last year.
Her grandfather Trevor Walton, who competes in endurance riding on a senior level, taught Mandy to ride. They were into horse trekking but Mandy said they found that a bit slow so took up endurance riding.

Mandy rides at a trot or canter. Her longest ride so far was 83km at Auckland and she carries a heart monitor to check the horse's heart rate.

She said Copper is a great horse for the shorter rides and she has ridden 24 competitive rides on the eight-year-old mare.

Next year she moves into the senior division where rides are up to 160km long.

To do those she has a new horse, a seven-year–old gelding called Charlie. Both horses are Arabs, the best horse for endurance riding as their heart rate is slower than most horses.

Mandy has her eye on competing in the South Island Champs in January and if all goes well, then the 100 km Nationals in April next year.

She practices by riding most days for two hours and if she does OK at the national champs she will have a chance at world events. Kiwi riders do well on the international endurance-riding scene.

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