Endurance Riding: Start Slow to Finish Strong

Riding at fast speeds at the start of endurance rides often leads to elimination during veterinary checks, researchers have learned. And while that might seem like common sense, many riders continue to ride too fast in rides’ early stages, one scientists said.
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endurance riding
Bennett said the data is very clear: Some horses are capable of riding at consistently fast speeds when managed correctly. Others are not and are eliminated when they are pushed. | Photo: FEI/Martin Dokoupil

The age-old adage says “slow and steady wins the race,” and researchers have found that it rings true for endurance riding—at least at the beginning of the ride.

While that might seem obvious or “common sense,” the fact is many riders continue to ride fast in the early stages of endurance events, said Euan David Bennet, PhD, a research associate at the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine’s Weipers Centre for Equine Welfare, in Scotland. And as his new study shows, a too-quick start frequently leads to failure to qualify (FTQ) to continue the ride during veterinary checks.

“This should certainly help develop a speed strategy to help avoid FTQ outcomes,” Bennet said. “That’s not quite the same as developing a strategy for a win, but for riders that want to win, safely finishing the ride would be a good start

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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