Test of endurance

PUBLISHED: 11:32 05 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:56 20 February 2013

Test of endurance

Test of endurance

Fred Bromwich meets a team of Solihull women who are competing in one of the toughest and fastest-growing equestrian sports.

Fred Bromwich meets a team of Solihull women who are competing in one of the toughest and fastest-growing equestrian sports.

Theres the beauty of the majestic dressage, the thrills and spills of eventing, such as the world-famous Badminton Horse Trials, and then theres the exhilaration of classic show-jumping. But a group of enthusiasts from Solihull Riding Club are getting their kicks another way - from long-distance endurance events.

The seven-strong Solihull Superstars, as they are known, got together last year to compete in the BRC (British Riding Club) Endurance Team Event organised by John and Jane Hudson, both endurance riders themselves, and staged by Endurance GB the official organisation for long distance riding in England and Wales.

Last year the team came sixth out of eleven entries and won the coveted Best Turned=Out trophy. At this years National Final, which takes place this month over a distance of 33km in Bedfordshire, they hope to record a Top Five finish in the League, which this season now boasts 17 teams.

Endurance riding is now one of the most increasingly-popular events in the equestrian calendar, with hundreds of riders competing in grueling weekend events from spring to late autumn. Although the sport has been around since the 1970s, it is only in recent years that Endurance GB has harnessed the enthusiasm of more and more horse-riders, all seeking to extend the capabilities of not only themselves but also their mounts.

Basically, endurance riding can see competitors covering anything between 30k and 160k a day over all sorts of terrain and riding within specific time and speed parameters, says Lisa Giovine, Team Manager of Solihull Superstars. Events range from one day to up to five days in duration hosting a variety of different distances from pleasure rides to 80k, plus race rides. However, the ultimate ride is 160 km in one day. But whatever the event, the welfare of the horse is paramount and veterinary checks are carried out before, during and after the ride,

Events are held the length and breadth of the country, taking riders across a combination of rugged forestry tracks, bridleways and private land. A popular one in the Midlands is the Ludlow Ride, which this year was over a new course that included taking in Wenlock Edge.

One of the most challenging, however, is the Golden Horseshow, which sees top horsemen and women compete in a two-day cross country endurance event, with five different classes 24km to 160km of tough terrain on Exmoor in Devon.
Lisa, the Solihull Superstars Australian-born team manager, who this year finished the 80km course to earn herself a coveted gold medal, says: Last year it was really disappointing because I had to pull out of the event at the end of the first day due to an injury to my horse. So this year I was really delighted not only to complete one of the sports most competitive rides but also to finish with a gold medal.

Watched by her partner, Michael, and her parents and brother, who were holidaying in the UK after flying in from their home on Australias Gold Coast, Lisa adds: As I rode towards the finishing line, all I could see was my Dad crouching down with his camera trying to get an action shot. I didnt think he was going to get out of the way, so I had to swerve a little to avoid him!
Of course, you are only as good as your horse and the expert crewing I received both days from my friends, Julie and Marian, who were superb,

Lisa, who is executive assistant to Neil Pountney, Managing Director of Emprima Ltd, the Solihull-based construction and regeneration consultancy, secured gold after riding her 15.2hh Anglo-Arab horse, Granby Dominica, at an average speed of 13.5km/hour.

Her Solihull Superstars team-mates are Anna Green, Annette Goodman, Helen Foster, Dorothy Hasty, Sarah Graham and Gemma Duke. All are good experienced riders who work well as a team and combine endurance with other disciplines like dressage, showjumping and showing.

Gemma, from Tile Hill, who works as a receptionist at Leigh Christou Accountants, said: I only joined the Superstars a few weeks ago, but already Im hooked. Endurance riding is not only a fantastic sport but its highly challenging.


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