Tuesday, June 26, 2012

South Africa: How to ride FAURESMITH…

Perseveranceendurancehorses - Full Article

Posted by Perseverance ⋅ 26 June 2012

How to Ride Fauresmith… for the First-timer

Next week a horde of horse and riders will be setting off on a three-day ride totalling 201km… This is the notorious Fauresmith National ride – the highlight of the South African endurance calendar! Not too onerous as endurance rides go, and yet, so difficult to complete for many people. Is Fauresmith an elusive goal for you? Is this your first time attempting it?

As old hands in our Province we offer advice to the newbies on our teams every year. Tips on what to do and what not to do. Sometimes they take our advice and sometimes they ignore it, but all the riders end up wiser on Thursday afternoon than they were on Tuesday morning. There’s no replacement for experience!

Fauresmith is a unique event in endurance. It has challenges different from the ultra-distance rides; one-day 100 milers such as the fabled Hofmeyr. It has different challenges from the speedy outright races between elite Namibian and South African teams over 120km. It is entirely different from the happy-go-lucky 80 km pre-rides done by the majority of endurance riders who just take part for the sheer enjoyment.

There are factors that make Fauresmith mad and bad compared to your local club ride.

Firstly, the sheer numbers. There will be about 400 horses concentrated at this venue. Unlike shows, most of them will not be stowed away in the stables, rather, all of them will be under saddle or on the field preparing to go. Add to that hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people. It can get a bit out of hand.

Secondly, the excitement. For many riders, arriving at Fauresmith is the realisation of a dream. There is a sparkle in their eyes and they communicate this excitement to their horses, who are already amazed to see so many colourfully attired horses around them. Adrenaline courses through their veins.

Third, the horses are fit and fed to run fast. They are not easy to control.

Fourth, there are a lot of newbies every year. Some are relatively new in endurance and lacking in the level-headed common sense that only develops with experience of dealing with difficult situations. They often have a hard time, but can also create situations that are awkward for the horses and riders around them. Falls by inexperienced riders, tack malfunctions or breakages, can add extra complications as they must be helped.

Fifth, the terrain is tricky in the sense that there are many rocks and loose stones, eroded gullies, holes, fence posts. Fauresmith is not a race track, but the horses want to race.

Lastly, there are three days to get through...