Stuff.co.nz - Full Article
Endurance rides of up to 160 kilometres are a family sport for the Smith Family.
Murray and Andrea Smith and their daughters Georgia, 15, and Brigitte, 12, are from the upper Kawhatau Valley towards the Ruahine Ranges from Mangaweka.
There they farm 566 hectares of hill country running beef and sheep.
"Our riding must fit in around the stock and farm work but we certainly endeavour to make it work if we can," said Mr Smith. Regular farm work also keeps the Arab horses fit for their long 160km rides.
Both girls have ridden from tiny with both longing to start endurance rides long before their parents felt they were ready.
"We have never made them ride; in fact it was hard for them to wait when we felt they were not ready," said Andrea. Murray was keen to ride while Andrea was a little more hesitant with two young daughters.
However, after time with a pony club, Georgia had her first ride at age seven while Brigitte was just five. Both girls are also keen show jumpers, but this has to fit around the endurance riding. The season runs from August to Easter.
The sport is very disciplined with a strong emphasis on the health and welfare of both horse and rider. Riders cannot start till age five and although there is a novice system, the speed restriction does not allow the horse or rider to go too fast.
"No one can just buy a horse and start," said Mrs Smith. "Both the horse and rider need conditioning..."
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