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Stepping Up

Whether you are ready to try some bigger distances or you just want to get a bit more competitive at the 40km rides there are some things you need to do first.

​Only horses and riders that are registered with Equestrian Sports New Zealand can progress out of the novice system and become open endurance competitors.  All the information relating to the sport of Endurance is on their website (ESNZ Endurance page) but I have attempted to summarise the steps as much as possible.


Horses must be 5 years old to have their rides credited to them for getting out of novice. (The qualifying rides must also be done in no less than 12 months and over no more than 24 months).  Your horse receives a logbook and all his/her endurance rides will be recorded in this book from now on.  Your log book is a great record of how your horse is progressing.  You can look at the distances, speeds, heart rates and especially lag times (recovery times) to evaluate your horse's increasing fitness.  Only sanctioned Endurance events (run under ESNZ rules) can be entered in this book.  Your horse's qualified kms will be recorded on a National data base also.  You will need to get an ID page done (ESNZ I.D. page) and you can do this yourself.  You fill out the membership application form (for you) and horse/pony registration form (for the horse) and send them away with your ID page.  

You are considered to be "ungraded" while you are in the Novice system.  Full membership is $140 for the rider and $90 for the horse plus a $30 start fee and lasts one year .


Getting out of Novice

To ride competitively in rides 40-79km you will need to qualify in novice endurance rides (any rides from 40-90km) totalling 200km.  Then you will no longer be speed limited and you can go as fast as you like provided your horse still recovers to 64 bpm or lower within 30 minutes of finishing the ride of course!  Even if you buy an open endurance horse, you, the rider, will have to progress through the Novice system anyway.  This is how you learn the skills of distance riding.


You can claim up to 2 rides retrospectively. Proof will be required ( day vets cards).




If you want to step up to greater distance (ie 80 km rides and more) you need also to get out of the Novice system and include do two rides of 80-90 km at novice speed.   Then you can race in any endurance competition excluding FEI events.  The minimum rides necessary are 2 x 40-79 km rides and 2 x 80-90km rides. All horses beginning their journey through the novice system must now take a minimum of 12 months from qualifying at their first 40-79 km ride before they can compete at an open ride.  


Once you have done your novice qualifications you can progress up the distances and there are other rules that come in to play for doing FEI rides.  We'll get to that when we get that magic minute when you get to be Open rider and Open horse.  


Star Rides

North Island, South Island and National Championship rides have CEI (star) rides.  This means they are run to International standards and are also qualifying rides for international events such as the World Equestrian Games and the World Endurance Champs.  There are non FEI classes available at these events as well and its a great source of inspiration to be part of the Champs atmospher

Training for and competing in Endurance events

Rides over 40 km are true endurance events rather than introductory rides.  40km is easily done by most pleasure horses as long as you are not trying to go too fast!  Once you get competitive however you have to train and feed more seriously.  Endurance horses need electrolytes and low protein feeds.  Learning how much to feed, how fast to go and how long it takes your horse to recover is the art of the game!  This is where having an experienced person to guide you is a huge help!  The best advice you will ever hear is "ride your own ride".  Getting dragged along at the front by horses which are fitter than yours is the most common mistake freshly Graded riders make.  Getting out of Novice doesn't suddenly make you capable of running with the leaders in your first open ride you may well find your self on an exhausted horse at the end of your first race!  Different riders have different preferences for feeding and training but the basics are much the same.  When you join the Waikato Club we will match you up with someone who can help you.  


To get the forms need to STEP UP go to the resources page and click on forms.

Yarding Regulations: Once you are riding longer distances (all rides over 40km are two loops or more), you may have to register and pre-ride vet the night before. There are rules regarding penning.  These are to protect riders and horses.​  See yarding regulations

Many endurance riders use waratahs (with caps) and tape nowadays.  If in doubt just ask.

















Multi-loop rides.

No loop can be more than 40km.  Therefore once you move up to rides over 40km (good for you!!) you will embark on multi-loop rides.  This is where the skill of strapping makes such a difference!  Here is how it works...

You can get off and walk your horse across the line on any loop other than the last one when you must be mounted. When you cross the finish line after your first loop you will be handed a slip with your arrival time and your vet in by time on it.  This is 20 minutes from your arrival time, you don't have to present this slip it is just for your information.   So you have 20 minutes to get your horse's heart rate down to below 64 bpm.  The catch is that your ride time doesn't stop until you enter the vet ring ('calling time").  So the faster you can get your horse's heart rate down (strapping) the sooner you enter the vet ring and your time is stopped and your hold time (usually 40 minutes) begins.  What you do here depends on many things.  In particular how hot your horse is.  Which is dependent on the weather and how fast you are going and how fit your horse is.  The serious riders will be aiming to get their lag times ( the time from crossing the line to calling time as you enter the vet ring) to less than two minutes.  If the person you ride in with gets into the vet ring five minutes after you then they will be leaving on their next loop five minutes after you and will have to push to catch you.  If you present to the vet having called time to the vet gate time keeper and your horse's HR is over 64 beats per minute you will sent out (spun) and you have only one more opportunity to come in again.  If you are over the second time you will be eliminated.  On the final loop of any ride (or a the end of a single loop ride) you have only one shot at presenting to the vet so you need to be sure your horse is under 64 bpm but you do have 30 minutes on this final one.

Your log book will be handed to you as you enter the vet ring for you to give to the vet writer.  When you move up to this level of endurance (provided you are a graded horse and rider) you are now in an endurance race rather than a ride.  The best way to learn about all of this is to volunteer to vet write.  Offer to relieve the vet writer for half an hour after you finish your introductory (less than 40km) ride.  You will be shown how and you will learn lots!!


In your hold

When you leave the vet ring you will get another slip which tells you what is your "out time".  You are due to leave on your next loop at this time.  You now have what's left of your 40 minutes to get you and your horse fed and rested and ready to head out on the next loop.  It goes very fast!  Especially if you have to get a shoe replaced!!  You will learn to interpret the vets scoring and comments which will guide you in how you care for your horse in the hold.  Be sure to check the book before handing it back as you leave the vet ring.  If the vet has any concerns about your horse they will ask to see them again before you go out on your next loop.  Remember that the welfare of the horse is paramount!  The vet is there to help you to look after your horse.  If you are at all worried about your horse even after you have finished, ask the vet to check it for you.  You will only be charged if the horse needs to have any medication.  Better safe than sorry!


At the end of your race

You are  in a competition now so placings will be given first to third (at least).  Remember to ask the vet if you can leave if you need to get away earlier than 2 hours after the event.  Your horse will need to rest and eat and re-hydrate (as will you) and you can learn at lot by watching the riders in the bigger rides and their crews.  Most riders doing single loop rides have no crews and just look after themselves.  At the top end of the sport crews may consist of four or more people who look after the horse and rider.

Ride ground crew

The vet writers, time keepers, course markers Technical Delegate, ground jury and secretaries are all volunteers.  They are often giving up an opportunity to ride their own horses in order to run the ride.  Helping out on rides is a great way to learn the sport.  Don't be shy.  We are all keen to help you.

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