Today, the American Endurance Ride Conference sanctions over 700 events throughout the country. The events are divided into three categories -- limited distance (from 25 miles to under 50 miles) and endurance (50-100 miles) and Pioneer rides (155 miles in three days, or greater)
In order to participate in a limited distance event, horses must be at least four years old. To participate in a full endurance ride of 50 miles or more, the horse must be five years old. Any breed of horse is permitted to compete, although Arabian horses are favored amongst the competitors of endurance riding. Not only is any breed of horse allowed -- an equine -- you can enter a horse, mule, pony, donkey, even a zebra!
Endurance riders are known for their sense of community. The American Endurance Ride Conference even runs a mentor program to help newbies learn the ropes of endurance riding.
To Finish Is To Win
The American Endurance Ride Conference a completion award and Best Condition (BC) award for every sanctioned event. The Best Condition award is open to the first ten finishers in the ride.
Horses and riders also accumulate points toward year-end awards and as horse/rider teams in their respective weight divisions. The American Endurance Ride Conference recognizes four weight divisions as well as a junior division (less than 16 years old). The weight divisions are:
Going the Distance
Each distance starts with all competitors leaving at the same time. Horses generally begin the race at a trot, however in the excitement of a group start, some horses will canter off.
There is no minimum time limit, but a 50-mile ride must be completed in 12 hours and the 100-mile distance in 24 hours. The clock continues even during mandatory holds and other times that you are not out on the trail. Throughout the race, mandatory vet checks are scheduled at intervals from 10 to 25 miles. Horses may not continue on the event unless the veterinarian approves.
The endurance ride winner is the first horse/rider to finish the trail, with the horse judged "fit to continue" by the veterinarian or veterinary team.