Forty-five riders traversed the Murramarang National Park as part of the South Coast Zone Endurance Riders’ training day at Willinga Park on Sunday, December 3.
Riders from the South and Far South Coasts and the ACT chose from 10, 20, or 40-kilometre rides, starting from the Bawley Point equestrian facility.
Ride organiser Clare Feary, of Wandandian, said the sport of endurance riding was accessible to any person.
“It’s a fantastic sport for families to get involved in,” she said. “It welcomes a huge array of people and a huge array of horses.
“There are 70-year-old folk doing 400-kilometre rides, so certainly in these shorter distances almost anyone can take part.”
Endurance riding has a heavy focus on horsemanship rather than results, and organisers say the health of the horse is paramount.
A horse is vetted before each ride, and the veterinarian must be confident it can go the distance.
The horse is vetted at the end of each leg of the ride to determine if it is safe to continue. It is vetted again at the end of the ride, and the vet must believe the horse could complete another leg. A “winner” would be disqualified if it failed final vetting.
The vetting process includes checking the horse’s pulse and temperature to make sure there are no existing conditions that would affect its fitness on track.
The gait of the horse is also assessed, as Sunday’s head veterinarian Darien Feary demonstrates above.
Ms Feary worked with Berry vet Jess Liddiard and Moruya vet Nicole Mace.
There were several different demographics evident on the day, including 15-year-old Shoalhaven Heads student Tahlia Casinelli.
This was Casinelli’s first 40-kilometre ride, so she was feeling a little nervous in the lead up to the trek.
Her nan Nette Lawson, of Woollamia, volunteered the day and the pair share their story below.
Michelle George, of East Lynne, wanted to support the South Coast zone of the Endurance Riders Association (ERA).
George rode 15-year-old Sameera, a horse that loves to get out into the country.
There was also a diverse group of horses. Arabians were the most common breed on the day, but there were several stock horses and quarter horses, warm bloods, a brumby, a Clydesdale and ponies.
Taylah Boese rode her horse Smudge in the 40-kilometre event, a 12-hand, 13-year-old, pinto pony.
There were also a number of experienced riders on the day, including Moruya-based equestrian Irene Adams.
Adams has ridden in 72 endurance rides and racked up 6894 competitive kilometres. She has been riding endurance events since 1993.
Her horse Renbay Cedar was on his first 40-kilometre ride.
Temperature, pulse and respiration stewards included Christine and John Milne, of Berry; Bruce Carter, of Tomerong.