November 16, 2021  /  News

An Introduction to Endurance Riding

If you like horse riding then you’re going to love endurance riding. It gives you the chance to spend some serious time in the saddle and develop a deep sense of companionship between you and your horse. You also get to ride in hidden areas of the British countryside that are often not open to the public and experience the sense of adventure and pride that you get from completing a challenge. 

Over the years, we’ve developed dozens of endurance riding tracks and want to use our insight and experience to shed some light on this fast-growing discipline. 

What is endurance riding?

Endurance riding is a ‘race’ over long-distance trails, with anything from 16km to 160km covered each day. Each ride typically takes place over one to three days on terrain that can be challenging and differ quite dramatically from one event to the next. 

The beauty of endurance riding is that you can be as competitive as you want. At the lower levels of the sport, the mantra is very much ‘to finish is to win’, and the sense of adventure you feel from tackling new landscapes and the accomplishment of conquering long distances is the prize. 

To finish the ride, you have to be tuned into your horse and be able to maintain a steady pace over long distances. The health and welfare of your horse should always be your top priority, with checks made by judges and qualified veterinarians before, during and after every ride. 

What are the different levels of endurance riding in the UK?

There are three levels of endurance riding in the UK: pleasure, graded and competitive.


These fun and often sponsored rides take place around the country and typically cover between 10km to 30km per day. There’s no time limit to complete the ride, so you can enjoy yourself and take as long as you like.


This type of ride is more technical and your horse must pass veterinary checks before and after the event. At the end of the ride, you will be given a grading of between one and four, with one being the best. This is calculated based on your speed and your horse’s recovery rate.


In a competitive endurance ride, all the riders start together and race over distances of between 80km to 160km per day to see who can cross the finishing line first. There are periodic veterinary checks throughout the race to make sure your horse is fit and healthy. 

What equipment do you need for endurance riding?

There’s a common misconception that only Arabian horses are suitable for endurance riding, but that’s not the case. Other muscular horses such as draft crosses, cobs and robust ponies are all capable of completing endurance rides, but you should not push them to travel too quickly.  

As well as a suitable horse, you’ll also need some essential equipment, including:

  • Saddle – You need a saddle that’s comfortable and fits the horse and rider well. You may choose to buy a custom-made endurance or trail saddle if you stick with the sport. You’ll also need a saddle pad or blanket and at least one girth. 
  • Bridle – You can take your choice of bridle. Bitless bridles make it easier for the horse to eat and drink while synthetic bridles are easier to clean.
  • Halter and lead rope – You may choose to use a halter and rope at vet stops but it’s not mandatory.  
  • Feed – Take hay, grain and supplements to keep your horse well-nourished during the ride. Water and electrolytes are also essential to avoid dehydration. 
  • Weather protection – Rain sheets, blankets, sponges, buckets and coolers are all necessary to keep your horse cool when it’s hot or warm in colder weather. Riders should also take plenty of layers that they can add/remove throughout the day.   
  • Hoof protection – It’s also important to take some hoof boots for protection unless you know the trail will be soft footing.  

British Equestrian has put together a podcast on Endurance Riding if you want to learn more. 

Endurance riding tracks

Endurance riding is very demanding for your horse, so it must be well trained. It can take 12 months or longer to train your horse for a 50-mile endurance ride and even several years to compete over 100 miles plus. That’s why endurance training tracks can be such a benefit. 

Those with access to endurance riding tracks have a distinct advantage during endurance fitness training. Our equestrian division spends the winter months creating stables, gallops and endurance riding tracks across the southeast, and we can create a riding surface to match all budgets and disciplines.

Call 01284 or email office@ojneilcontracting.co.uk if you would like to discuss your endurance track requirements with our team.