Endurance/Trail Riding FAQs -- copy, link, add useful info here!

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Mod 1

Thanks, Mod 1!!! Super idea to create a sticky for most oft asked questions.

Most popular thread seems to be “How do I start Endurance?” - the answer can be found here - on the Old Dominion Endurance Ride website. :smiley: (pasted link: http://olddominionrides.org/EndurancePrimer/EnduranceHowTo.html)

This on-line “endurance primer” includes everything you need to know about getting started and being successful in this sport including: information on electrolytes, how to condition, what to expect at a ride, how to plan your ride strategy, the vet checks, camping overnight with your horse, how to pack and what to wear, plus lots more! Geared to the newbie, and also to those looking to move up in the sport from LD to 50’s. It is the BEST source anywhere on the web for learning about endurance riding !!!

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Excellent, this is wonderful!!! :smiley: Great link GTD, I love that one.

Basics and Getting Started:
American Endurance Ride Conference Rider Handbook:

Preparing for your First Ride:

At your First Ride:

Discussion Boards, Photos, Marketplace, News, much more too!!:

Endurance.Net Newbie Page - TONS of great info here:

Regional Organizations/Resources:




Endurance Tack and Equipment Suppliers:





More Advanced Topics:
Tips on moving up to longer distances:

FEI/International Endurance:

Distance Driving:

Definitely worth saving:

What should I bring on a trail ride?: http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=120944

The New Rider Handbook from the MnDRA/UMECRA.

A handy, printable manual with lots of good info.


Thanks guys…have read quite a bit now, and have a question…

So it says that at vet checks you want to have hay, water, and food for you…how does it get there? Surely you’re not packing it on the horse, so is it just sit out the day before? Or do the people running the trail bring it for you?

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This should maybe be sticky? It’s the COTH Riding Buddies Finder map on Google Maps:


Here’s the original thread that explains how it works:


I pulled the information below from another thread because this question: “aren’t hunting and endurance alike?” keeps popping up in various threads.

So, here is how both sport are NOT alike…

I’ve been thinking about the comparison between endurance and hunting.
I have ridden trails but not competed. Went to one hunt, but rode in the wagon. For sure hunt horses are tough critters. So I am pondering the “pulls” seen in endurance that is - I guess - not seen in hunting.
What are the differences? [/quote]
There is a huge difference between hunting and riding endurance competition.

A hunt is a “go-for” group sport where you follow in a tight group of others a specific leader who follows the Huntsman and hounds at the speed required to keep up with those hounds. Our average distance in a 3 hour day is about 10-12 miles (per my GPS), our average speed being about 4 mph so there is a lot of walking and standing around, punctuated by trotting or fast gallops (up to 26 mph) for undetermined amounts of time on undetermined terrain. When the hounds are running, you generally are, too. You can drop out at any time (after asking permission from the field master), but the pace isn’t one you set – it is set by the fox, hounds and the master you follow. Any hunter worth their salt will immediately pull their own horse if they come up lame, or start acting NQR. They don’t need a vet to tell them they have to do so. Good hunt horses are expensive, well trained, and since they are expected to hunt sometimes up to 3x a week, any hint of problem is seen as “time to leave the field” so that the problem isn’t compounded by continuing. After all, your hunting subscription is for the full season - August to March, 2x-3x a week. Always another hunt just a few days away.

Endurance is a individual solitary sport that encompasses one horse and rider team following a pre-determined 50, 75, or 100 mile trail that is marked and measured. Going “off trail” is grounds for elimination. Endurance horses are conditioned at a trot, a gait averaging about 7 mph that is maintained for long periods of time, up to 20-25 miles before a mandated rest period where they are checked by a vet to ensure said horse is fit to continue. A rider can pull their horse at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. A vet can also pull the horse, but is limited to only lameness or metabolic issues. A vet may not pull a rider, ever. As long as the horse passes the mandatory vet check which is limited to several parameters (which can be found on the AERC website under the Vet Handbook), and the RM has not stopped the ride for any reason (impending hurricane, life-threatening storms, dangerous trail conditions due to unexpected weather occurring during the ride, etc) it is the rider’s own choice to continue. The horse and rider can travel the trail alone, or with others, get off and walk, stop and rest, etc etc - the choice is up to the rider. They pick the speed, when and where they might want to graze their horse, etc. As long as they make the cut-off times, stay on trail, and do not interfere with other riders at any point along the trail or in the checks, they are free to do their own thing.

Miles covered at speed per day?
Explained above, but to reiterate - hunts travel about 10-15 miles day during formal season (coyote hunts may cover more ground); endurance covers 50, 75 or 100 miles in one day.

Hunts are held 2x-3x a week from August to March. I’ll let you do the math to figure out how many hunts that would be given perfect weather for every hunt. Endurance rides can be scheduled 1 every weekend (pioneer rides are 3 to 5 successive days of 50 miles/day), but riders attending that type of schedule are few and far between, and holding to that type of schedule means a lot of traveling, usually to several different states. The majority of riders will attend rides within 3-4 states and I would hazard a guess that 6-8 rides a year is about top end. Most do about 4 rides a year at most.

Seasonal - ie hunts held in more winterish conditions?
Foxhunting is regulated by the state. Hunting season coincides with the breeding period of the fox which occurs during the fall/winter months, and also is the best season to harvest pelts. You need a hunting license, too. Very important because you can get fined by the state game warden for hunting without one. You need to be invited by the hunt to ride with a hunt. You just can’t show up and expect to hunt. Paying for that hunt invitation is called a “cap”. You are only allowed to cap a few times with a hunt (each hunt has its own limits to cap) before you are either invited to become a member ( if they like you), or … not. <ahem>

Endurance rides are generally held in the warmer months of spring/summer/fall, and winter in the southern part of the county. You don’t need a membership in any distance organization in order to enter a ride, nor do you need any qualifications as long as your horse is the required age per AERC rules. You can enter as many endurance rides as you want, wherever you want, whenever you want. There is no limit. However, you do need to be a member of the AERC if you want your points collected and established in an ongoing lifetime record for yourself and the horse, and if you want to compete for regional and national awards.

Hunts don’t have vet checks and other specific requirements to finish the day/to be considered a completion?
No, because hunting is NOT a competition. It is a hunting sport. You ride a horse in order to keep up with the hounds so you can watch them hunt. You can also ride in a car to watch the hounds. The only specific requirement to finish the day is… if you fall off at any point (assuming you are on a horse), you owe a bottle of champagne (or 6 pack of beer, or whatever beverage of choice is your hunt’s favorite) for the next tailgate. Best. Requirement. Ever. :smiley:

I don’t think there is any requirement if you fall out of your car. People will just think you’re a klutz.

Wonder how the majority of hunt horses would fare competing 50 and 75 mile endurance competitions - being subjected to checks etc.? ie the same criteria as the endurance horses must meet for a completion?
Actually, pretty darn good. The Hot Springs ride that is held in Virginia in the spring was started by foxhunters who wanted to continue to enjoy their horses after hunting had ceased. They had a 3 day 100, and the early days were almost exclusively foxhunters that did the ride. I’ve known several other foxhunters who took their hunting mounts into endurance rides (50 and 100 miles) and did fantastic! A good hunt horse learns fast not to waste energy fretting on the trail, and they tend to be very workmanlike - get the job done types. However, most foxhunters find endurance a bit…boring. Tons more excitement in following at a flying gallop a pack in full, screaming cry. Lots more fun! :lol:

New Coggins Regulation for Trail Riders

I’m not sure if this has been mentioned here yet…I did search for it a bit but did not see a mention of this, so I’ll post it here and update as I get any further information.

Basically, various agencies in Virginia are going to be requiring that there be proof of negative Coggins tests for horses trail riding or simply being on ANY public land…NOT just organized, formal events and rides…but even just your spur-of-the-moment Sunday ride with a friend if it’s going to be on any sort of public land, such as State and National Parks and the National Forests. If you trail ride in any of these, or trail ride at all, you should be aware of this change in the regulations.

This is the latest information I’ve received from a friend of mine who’s on the board of directors of the Virginia Horse Council and is the Chairman of the Trails committee.

I’ve copied and pasted an email I’ve sent out recently to people I know in Virginia:[INDENT]…the VHC, Dr. Wilkes with the State Vet’s office, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the various park and forest agencies have been trying to come to a wording for this regulation that satisfies everyone. So far, they are still discussing it, and the VHC is keeping abreast of the talks,…however, we did want to keep everyone updated as much as possible with the weather getting better and more people getting out to trail ride.

With that in mind…I’ve been asked to put this UNOFFICIAL word out to everyone in this area to start packing the papers in their saddle bags. State Parks, at this point, ARE going to require that they always be with the horse. Dr. Wilkes is thinking that if you are at an arena or show grounds then in the trailer is sufficient (as has always been the case) but on the trails we better carry. Owners without valid test reports could be charged with a Class I Misdemeanor and asked to return to the trailer and leave the Park/Forest area.

They still need to consult with the attorney general and some other staff before they issue another press release.


Here a few links to blogs by fellow endurance riders. This should be interesting reading for novices and experienced riders alike. We can all learn from each other’s mistakes or success stories…

Karen Chaton: http://enduranceridestuff.com/blog/

Melinda Faubel: http://www.bootsandsaddles4mel.blogspot.com/

Heather Reynolds: http://www.reynoldsracing.us/heathers_blog

Stephanie Teeter: http://stephteeter.blogspot.com/

Patti Stedman: http://www.pattistedman.com/

Endurance Granny: http://endurancegranny.blogspot.com/

Chris Martin/Monk: http://feiredhorse.blogspot.com/

We’ve moved …

Thanks for mentioning my website (Patti Stedman: http://www.pattistedman.com/) – I had some techno-issues with it but have recently done some construction, still underway, and have a new URL.


Hope to see you there!


@ MiloandMe
Often you can send a crew bag out to the vetcheck- great place to put whatever special grain your horse likes.
Most rides (at least in my area) have hay and water at a vet check. Most managers put the hay bales out and fill water troughs a few days before hand. Human food may or may not be provided- I always send some out for me in a crew bag out for me. If the ride provides food, it normally goes out to the vetcheck when the volunteers and vets drive out to the check.

wow, thanks mod1 and everyone who posted! Great info here, especially for a beginner like me who is rediscovering riding later in life.

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If folks are looking for a supportive community in getting started, there’s a group called Endurance Green Beans at http://www.greenbeanendurance.org/

Also, for those wishing to take an online course providing comprehensive information about getting started in endurance or competitive trail riding, check out Endurance Essentials at horselearningonline.com

Here’s a blog that provides some additional resources as well: http://enduranceintrospection.com/wp/top-ten-questions-endurance-green-beans-ask/

Best of luck to all in getting started!



I’m starting a blog series about my experience as a novice endurance rider planning to ride the Tevis Cup in a year or two!
Here is my first post. I’m hoping to do at least one a week, but we’ll see!