7 Top Tips To Use In Endurance Racing
It is wise to only use the best equipment when riding on an endurance race. Carefully consider the tack you decide to use, to help your horse out in running this race. Often the use of synthetic saddles and other specialty tack will give you an edge in your competition.
Before you saddle up, with your synthetic saddle however, you’ll need to prepare yourself for training and competition.
As you school your horse, use these tips to get the most out of every ride.
Put Your Horse Through His Paces
Trot work is the best conditioning exercise for your horse. He can maintain the trot much longer than the canter or hand gallop, which means he’ll improve his lung capacity much faster. It’s also excellent for the muscles and ligaments.
For the best results, engage in dedicated trot work two or three times per week. Trot large circles around an arena or pasture, alternating directions every few laps. Other strategies to maximize trot work include:
- Switching between collected and extended trots
- Conducting regular transitions to canter and walk
- Executing smaller circles to engage his hind end and shoulder
- Working through trot poles (or cavaletti)
Monitor your horse’s heart rate throughout every session. His resting heart rate should be no faster than 40 beats per minute.[loc] If it takes longer than 10 minutes for his heart rate to decline to 50 beats per minute, you might be pushing him too hard.
Use Weather Resistant Gear
Endurance riders train and compete in all types of weather. Consequently, you don’t want to use saddles, bridles, and other tack that might get ruined during extreme conditions, such as rain.
Consider synthetic saddles, for example, which aren’t susceptible to rot when they get wet. Unlike a leather saddle, a synthetic western saddle also will not fade in the glare of the hot sun during a long ride. You’ll find synthetic tack for just about every purpose, including:
- Martingales and tie-downs
- Girths and cinches
If you’ve never used synthetic horse saddles, try several models before you commit to one.
You’ll want to find the most comfortable saddle because endurance riding requires longer hours on the back of your horse.
Reduce the Weight on Your Horse’s Back
Just like race and event horses, endurance horses perform better when they aren’t “saddled” with too much weight. While training and competing, never carry more gear than necessary to avoid loading down your horse.
This is another benefit of synthetic western saddles. They typically weigh less than half of the weight of traditional leather saddles, so they give you an advantage right out of the gate.
Lunge Your Horse When You Can’t Ride
Endurance riding demands a consistent exercise schedule to keep your horse (and yourself) in shape. Give your horse one day off every week, but try not to skip other days; otherwise, you might suffer setbacks in your training.
Sometimes you might not be able to ride. When you are sick or when the weather won’t cooperate, lunge your horse instead of riding him. A covered round pen or arena works well for this purpose.
When lunging an endurance horse, focus on the trot. Walk with the horse to give him a large circle. This prevents damage to delicate tendons and ligaments that could be pulled or strained when your horse is forced to work on a tight circle.
Wear Bright Colors
When choosing tack for your horse and clothes for you, focus on bright colors that can be seen from a distance. This makes you easily detectable if you get lost in the woods or suffer an injury on the trail.
Shop for synthetic saddles for sale that come in non-traditional colors. While they might seem loud, they can also save your life. Look for other gear and clothing in bright colors, including:
- Breeches or equestrian jeans
- Saddle pads and blankets
- Breast collars
Colorful leg protection for your horse is also beneficial, such as brightly colored splint and bell boots.
Pack All the Essentials
When you take a practice endurance ride or compete in an event, fill your saddle bags with all the essential safety gear. This includes a safety kit (for both equine and human emergencies) as well as plenty of water so you stay hydrated on the trail.
For your horse, make sure you have leg and hoof products you might need along the way. These could include:
- Vet wrap in case your horse suffers a cut or other injury
- Safety boot to protect the hoof if your horse throws a shoe
- Hoof pick in case your horse’s hooves become clogged with mud or rocks
Always carry a knife just in case you, your horse, or your gear becomes caught on something.
Practice Mounting & Dismounting
Unlike other equestrian sports, endurance events allow writers to dismount and lead their horses while on the trail. This is useful if your horse refuses to cross a bridge while you’re mounted, for example.
However, many riders have never practiced getting on and off their horses without a trusty mounting block.
Don’t assume you can always find a fence, boulder, or other height-enhancing tool on the trail. In fact, you usually won’t have access to such conveniences.
Make sure you can mount your horse from the ground any time it becomes necessary.
Endurance riding is a great challenge for both horse and rider. Just make sure you have all the gear and experience necessary to ride safely.
If your favorite view from the top of a horse consists of open fields, wooded paths, and scenic vistas, you might enjoy endurance riding.
Endurance riding has been around for 59 years now. It was started in 1955, as an all terrain ride from the Lake Tahoe, California area across the Sierra Nevada Range to Auburn, Ca. This first endurance race took less than 24 hours.
As a FEI recognized, worldwide sport today, only top conditioned horses are only allowed to be used, as there are many mandatory stops policed by veterinarian inspections.
Most of the races today are of the 50-100 mile distance range, so in wanting of a competitive edge you would want to give yourself an edge considering the horse tack you use for this race.
So enjoy the sport of horse endurance riding and all of your western horse riding outdoors in the great western states of the USA. Great riding enjoyment to you!
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Great discussion of traveling with all of your Western Tack and how to best take care of. This includes saddle blankets, bridles, bits, saddle cover etc.