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How to get started in Endurance riding? Or competitive trail? And what’s the difference?

I’m considering getting started in Endurance and/or Competitive trail.
Can anyone expound on the difference, and also are there any resources for beginners?
(Not beginning riders, those starting out in a new discipline)

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I think the most helpful thing for people who are new to endurance is to volunteer at a ride. It’s soooo different from any other part of the horse world and you can get a great feel from it by volunteering.

AERC also has a mentoring program. Here the link to the list of mentors - basically people who have been there, done that as far as endurance and they are willing to share their knowledge with others getting started in the sport

also check any local Facebook pages that are endurance related, I’ve had several new people who have posted that they are looking to the get into the sport that I’ve contacted and had come train with me.


100% agree on volunteering. In my opinion, the best volunteer role for learning all the ins and outs is to be a vet scribe. It will be a long day, but you will see every horse and rider come through, hear the vet’s assessment and any questions the rider has, and have a front row seat to the fine art of the trot out. There is a lot of down time between vet checks, so you will be regaled with stories that you won’t forget! :wink:

As @tabula_rashah said, the AERC website is a great first stop for endurance info.

Competitive trail is a lot trickier to explain to someone new. In my region (Northeast/governed by ECTRA), it operates completely differently than places that are governed by NATRC. My region approaches CTR relatively similarly to endurance, though requires you to ride a little faster pace to complete on time, has a more involved vet check process, and selects winners based on a point scoring system. Again, volunteering (esp as a vet scribe) will help you learn the rules of CTR in your region.

Happy trails!

Thanks! I have crewed a few times for a friend who does endurance but unfortunately she lives quite far away so we don’t get to visit much. I do plan to pick her brain.
I have found info online but also know some websites are better than others, I just don’t know which ones those are lol.
Is there site like the USEA that has the schedules for different areas to find volunteering opportunities ? I also plan to check out the resources already mentioned !

Unfortunately not. If you consider most of the horse world generally technophobic/luddite, picture endurance folks to be the worst of the bunch about having good, up-to-date info online. I’m trying to get people to use an online registration form for the ride I manage, and so far it’s 5 printed forms in the mail for every online form. Sigh.

I’d say your best bet is go to the AERC ride calendar online (they do make every effort to keep it updated/current)- sort by your state/region to find rides local to you - search FB to see if the ride has a page and ask there how to volunteer. If no FB page, email the ride manager at the address on the AERC calendar.

If you want to share what state you’re in, maybe we can help point you to useful FB pages. FB is pretty good for some regions/rides.

Actually, maybe I was being a little harsh.

The AERC educational channel on YouTube has some good stuff:

The endurance episode of the Horses in the Morning podcast with Karen Chaton is educational, and there are hundreds of episodes since 2013: https://horsesinthemorning.com/category/endurance/

The Endurance Essentials online course is going through a refresh, but the creator of the training has been blogging/teaching clinics about endurance for a long time, and is a wonderful person to learn from! http://enduranceintrospection.com/wp/

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I’m in FL . That would be great thanks! It sounds like that ride calendar may be what I’m looking for

never rode Endurance but did many years of Competitive Trail, we preferred Competitive trail as the competition mainly was against yourself and promoted learning how to care for your horse and yourself out on the trails. Horse and Rider are judged separately then those scores are combined to determine the winning team by points.

We had one horse that lost an overall ride championship of 60 head by one heart beat, the scoring was that close

We were not interested in a race to the finish but wanted to develop and understanding on how to help our horses have a good time and survive


There is definitely a shortage of comprehensive endurance resources online. I am working to address that at The Sweaty Equestrian. There’s a suite of articles on getting started in the sport, plus a lot of other topics.

Here’s a link: https://thesweatyequestrian.com/old-endurance-ride-web-pages/start-here.html

Some of the regional endurance organizations also have educational article sections.

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insert eye roll here. If you think endurance in the US is just a race to the finish with no care for the horse, then you clearly have never attended one. AERC is 100% about the well-being of the horse


Oh, perfect! SERA (Southeast Endurance Riders Association) has tons of resources online and in-person: https://www.seraonline.org/
If you start there (go to the Education tab for their great webinars and videos), I’m sure you can get connected to people in person too. Unfortunately the season there, as you probably know far better than me, is slowing down as things heat up. Our Vermont riders who go there for the winter are just starting to trickle back home as our ride season starts to get going :wink:

Just to put a point on this, CTR does not work this way everywhere (in my region, there is no judging of riders). These regional/governing body differences make it hard to explain CTR to people who are new to it, which is why I’d recommend looking up the governing body in your region to get familiar with the rules. And then volunteer so you can see how it all works and ask clarifying questions.


expect backlash received


Yeah I know. It’s already hot. I broke my back last May and am just getting back into the saddle. I’m kind of hoping I can learn over the summer so I have half a clue and then get more involved once it cools off again


Do you mind being a touch more specific about what part of FL you are in? Florida is a mecca of distance riders in certain places, so hopefully we can get you some nearby contacts. I am on the AERC mentoring list, but am not very close to you as I am in PA. Feel free to PM me if you are not comfortable outing where you live any more specifically publicly.

The Old Dominion also has a lot of information for people starting out.

and as a general statement, I tell horsey people that endurance is like jumpers while competitive trail is like hunters.

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and @clanter, I am happy to report that despite having been endurance riding for 18 seasons, I have survived and so have all my equine partners. :upside_down_face:

I will try to make sure @Annie10 is equally lucky in her distance adventures. :wink:


that’s a great comparison!

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Northeast FL