Contact information:

Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


October 20, 2011

Distance Riding…what are my choices?

Since I am in a quandary about my future in the distance riding sports, and really have nothing “worthy” to report…I thought I’d post up a little blurb for the newbies out there who are thinking about riding a distance discipline but don’t know where to get started.

• Endurance Riding: distances of 50+ miles, one or more days. The primary sanctioning organization is the AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference). They also sanction LD (Limited Distance) rides of 25-35 miles. Endurance has different rules than LD. Endurance horses are placed by order of finish. LD horses finish related to their pulse recovery. Riders race in both venues, and riders ride for completion only in both venues. Entry fees vary from being affordable $65 or so in some regions to higher in others $95-100. There are also organizations within the organizations (though operating independently of each other) such as OAATS, SERA, and MOTDRA. You can join the AERC and compete for regional and national awards, as well as mileage chevrons for horse and rider. If you prefer a more focused competition group you might opt for the smaller organizations for a more personal experience. If you like to set long-term mileage only goals or compete for challenging ride goals the AERC might be the best, but certainly not the only option. There are also organizations without such strict vetting procedures such as NEDA which sponsors some rides, and others that look to completions rather than finish placements. Knowing what you want out of the sport will help you find the niche that works best for you.

• CTR: competitive trail riding tests the horse over distances of 25+ miles, some rides being two-day events. Horses are scored on various areas concerning their condition, and also must complete at a pace that meets a time window. Placement is based on the best scoring horse. Some organizations such as NATRC also score the horse and rider on obstacles along the trail. The outcomes on these rides are a little more difficult to predict, and in some ways much more challenging than a distance only ride. Note: (author has only completed one of these through OAATS which was an entry level ride and it was by far the most fun event I’ve ever attended since the start of my distance journey). NATRC is the largest sanctioning organization in North America for these rides. These rides are also sanctioned by smaller regional organizations such as OAATS, SERA, and MOTDRA in the Midwest, and southeastern US.

• CTC or STC: These rides are called Competitive Trail Challenges or Supreme Trail challenges and vary in distance from 10 to 35 miles. These rides have judges (as opposed to veterinary controls) as far as horse’s condition and ability continue are concerned. There is a scoring system on obstacles. Outcomes on these rides take a little more skill in the area of “trail horse” vs. “race horse.” You may be asked to side pass, open a gate, back an “L”, make a lead change, and various other technical skills expected of a finished trail horse, as well as the distance portion of the competition.

• ACTHA: Sanctioned by the American Competitive Trail Horse Association. This is not “distance” at all, but I mention it because it would be very good preparation for someone wanting to enter the sport of CTC, STC, or CTR. I’d strongly encourage a year of these prior to an attempt at Endurance to teach your horse trail manners, control, and calmness. It would enable a new horse/rider to the sport to teach their horse the trail skills, and compete in a non-pressured environment prior to entering the more challenging rides that may include speed and distance.

A few of these links will resource you the information to get connected and started at an entry level sport.



http://www.aerc.org/ American Endurance Ride Conference

http://www.motdra.org/ Middle of the Trail Distance Riders Association

http://www.seraonline.org/ Southeastern Endurance Riders Association

http://oaats.org/ Ohio Arabian and All breed Trail Riding Society

http://natrc.org/ North American Trail Ride Conference

http://nedanv.org/ National Endurance Driving Association

http://www.actha.us/home American Competitive Trail Horse Association

http://supremetrailchallenge.com/ National Competitive Trail Horse Association (CTC’s & STC’s)

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