Find out what endurance race competitions are and how they work. Learn about the endurance racecourse and breed that is often used.
Despite common belief, not all horse races are finished in a matter of seconds. There are horse races that take longer. This is because they test the endurance of a horse through a controlled long-distance race. This kind of competition is commonly known as an endurance race.
Technically, this race is under the long-distance horse racing format. However, endurance races are more common in most countries around the world. That is why long-distance races are often known as endurance races.
Endurance races is not the same as other horse racing formats. This is because the stamina of a horse and jockey are more important to win the race. Speed is also important. However, the overall health of the horse during and after the race are a bigger factor needed in the competition. This is because a horse who placed first can still lose if their health was bad after the race.
Endurance races are one of the equestrian disciplines recognized by the International Federation of Equestrian Sports (FEI).
International Federation of Equestrian Sports
FEI is the international governing body of all equestrian sports. This is similar to the governing bodies of sports leagues. FEI sets a code of conduct to protect the welfare of horses and manage events.
Currently, there are 136 National Equestrian Federations that are members of FEI. This includes Japan endurance races.
The eight disciplines they recognize that fall under local governing bodies in regular and para-equestrian competitions are:
- Dressage → This is one of the highest forms of riding for exhibition and competition. It is also regarded as an art form.
- Combined driving → The combined driving race is a sport where horses pull a carriage that has a pair or four people in it.
- Endurance → One of the hardest forms of horse racing formats because of how long the competition takes.
- Eventing → This is a tournament where a rider and horse compete with others in three disciplines: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.
- Para-equestrian → Para-equestrian is a sport created for people with a range of disabilities. This is often held in Paralympic Games. Para-equestrian is divided into two tournaments. These are para-equestrian dressage and para-equestrian driving.
- Reining → Reining is a form of western horse racing where riders urge the horse through a series of circles, spins, and more.
- Show jumping → This is a tournament made of various events like dressage, eventing, and equitation.
- Equestrian vaulting → Equestrian vaulting is a competition where gymnastics and dance are performed on horseback. It is also known as vaulting.
Endurance races are under FEI but horse racing is still not. This is because FEI does not make the rules for horse racing. All local governing bodies in various countries are responsible for it.
Long-distance races also have variations that horses can join and you can wager in. Its main formats are competitive trail riding and endurance rides.
Competitive Trail Riding
Competitive Trail Riding (CTR) is an equestrian sport. It is run over a distance of 15 to 40 miles a day. Most CTR competitions are finished within one day. Some races can last over three days because of the length of the course they have to go through.
The main goal in CTR is to show the partnership between the rider and horse over the course.
There are two kinds of competitive trail riding hosted by organizations. It is called a pace race if it is timed. It is called a judged trail ride if it is not a timed CTR race.
There are also variations to competitive trail riding. This is because there are other factors considered besides speed to determine who the winner is.
Checking the horse’s condition and ability to recover during the veterinary check is considered. This is necessary since there is a possibility the horses cannot finish within the required time. Additionally, the performance and manners of the horse during the race is considered. All of these factors are considered to decide the rankings of the horses.
Most CTR competitions are held in public land. It is also possible to hold it on private properties.
There are various organizations that hold endurance race competitions. This includes FEI which has FEI World Endurance Championships for Seniors. Other organizations worldwide have endurance race tournaments.
Japan has been organizing endurance races since 2000 and has been held usually in Hokkaido. This is where most of the horse industry is located although other parts of Japan have endurance races. Itō, Shizuoka in Japan currently have two endurance race competitions scheduled for 2019 under FEI organization.
Four-year-old horses are allowed to compete in endurance rides. Additionally, only senior riders can participate in the race.
Limited Distance Rides
The Limited Distance Rides (LD) are a shorter form of endurance races. The stamina and speed of horses are still tested. LD rides are often 50 or 100 miles long. This is approximately 80 to 160 kilometres long.
Originally, it has been created as a race for young horses. It has also been created for new riders. However, this is not the case in recent years. More experienced riders and horses often compete in LD rides.
The distance in LD rides are now longer. It is also held more than once in a day. It is organized by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) in the United States. It is organized by Endurance GB in the United Kingdom.
The Race Track
The distance that horses run on endurance races depends on the course. However, it rarely exceeds 160 kilometres. Most horses that win endurance races can often finish a 160-kilometre race within 14 to 15 hours.
There are various checks done for the horses over a distance of a few kilometres. This is because the health of the horses is a priority in the race. Horses are also checked before the race starts to determine if they are fit for the course.
The horses’ respiration, dehydration, and pulse are checked in the inspection. This is sometimes called a vetgate. They also need to reduce their heart rate below the specified rate for the race. The heart rate necessary for the race is often 64 bpm. A different heart rate can be required depending on the terrain of the track.
Horses need to stay in the vetgate for 40 to 60 minutes. They are fed and given water to drink during this time.
Riders can be given a GPS or a tracking device to show the route and places they can stop for compulsory halts. This is also called holds. These places check the condition of the horses during the race. Natural obstacles are also shown on the tracking device. This includes water crossings, ditches, and steep hills.
The winner of the endurance race is often the first horse to finish. It is also the horse that is determined fit to continue. This means the horse cannot be tired after the race. Here are the other factors considered to determine the winner of the race: physical condition, speed, and recovery rate.
Common Breeds Used in Endurance Races
All horse breeds can compete in endurance races. However, the Arabian horse breed is generally used in most endurance race competitions. This is because they are known for their natural stamina and endurance. Not only that, they are also fast and have strong bones.
They can easily be recognized by their chiselled bone structure, arched neck, and high-carried tail. Arabian horse breed coat colours are often bay, gray, chestnut, or black. Some of them also have sabino or the rabicano patterns.
Sabino Pattern in Horses
The sabino pattern in horses are often white spots on their skin and hair. This is often irregular marks. It can look like splashes of white on various parts of the horse’s body. It can also be belly spots.
There are different sabino pattern colours in horses. This means it is not limited to white markings.
Rabicano Pattern in Horses
The rabicano pattern in horses is also known as white ticking. This is because there are only a few patterns on the horse’s body. Generally, there are even white fur colour on the horse. The head and legs are often not affected by the rabicano pattern.
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