Fantastic Tips for Endurance Riding

Endurance riders have a great many Endurance Riding events to choose from, each with its own particular set of challenges. Many riders learn the ropes via their local Endurance GB, ILDRA or SERC group or similar clubs overseas. With respect, but novices don’t always get advice from the most accomplished riders. This page aims to help you to several fantastic tips for Endurance Riding which make Endurance Riding more enjoyable and successful for you and your horse. These videos feature Sally Toye and her horse Emira Bint Letifa. Kindly note that the number of videos in this page will grow, we have lots more tips for you! Like our facebook page so you won’t miss out on the next video tip. Aloeride is very proud to sponsor Sally Toye who is a very experienced and successful Endurance rider both in the UK, Ireland and the US. She also qualified for the 2017 Mongol Derby.

Tip 1 for Endurance Riding: Sponge

My friend Lucy in Tevis land (United States of America) says also to practice attaching and unattaching sponge to/from saddle, so can do it as you approach water. The ponies get smart and will speed up as sometimes they don’t want to be sloshed, so I like to prepare well ahead. I slosh at trot now and it’s fun! Water cools them!

Hello Han,
If you recall, Sally Toye recommended Aloeride to me, and you kindly gave me a discount as a result. I have been very pleased with the effect so far. My gelding’s coat has never looked so rich, and he seems to get less irritation in his nose and eyes. Time will tell if Aloeride helps him with his allergies in the summer. My mare has held condition well this winter, and in fact is needing less food! I am so pleased that I have just taken up your option to order a years supply. I know Sally endorses your product for endurance, but I am happy for you to include my recommendation as well.

With best wishes,
Heather Weston.

Tip 2 for Endurance Riding: Both Sides

Tip 3 for Endurance Riding: Treats

Here’s a lovely cross-over story. Luca Moneta is one of the best show jumpers in the world. In 2013 he won the Puissance  event at the prestigious Olympia Horse Show, feeding his horse Quova de Vains a carrot after every successful jump. He says: “When horses choose to do the right thing, I use a lot of positive reinforcement”. Some call him the carrot man, but in reality Luca understands that learning happens quicker by reinforcing good performance than by punishing bad performance. This is precisely how Sally treats her horses and below video shows how a little carrot can go a long way during Endurance Riding. Note that Elvis as well as Mia are left in no doubt as to who the ‘Alpha’ is in the herd’s dominance hierarchy!

Tip 4 for Endurance Riding: Tailing

It is fair to say that normally horse riding is considered successful when the rider remains on the horse. Particularly in longer distance Endurance, notably on steep ascents or steep descents, it may be kinder to the horse to dismount for a while. Not just kinder, but a good tactic to increase the chance of a well-cleared vet gate. Tailing is an easy technique for both horse and fit rider, Sally will demonstrate this in glorious detail in our next video…

Basically tailing is for climbing hills and saving the pony. Also I use it to give Mia a break downhill so that my delicate 68kgs is not loading up her front legs, this means we can jog down together and she will follow my path (if I am in front) as she trusts me to pick a good route for both of us. It does build an amazing partnership being off the horse. We originally started very soon into our career together as I backed her in the February and took her to a ride in June, so she really wasn’t fit enough to lug me around and I helped her by getting off. Now when she gets tired I can feel her thinking “Mum get off I want a rest!” I have also discovered that like being in a herd when I am in front she takes a bigger rest because of course I am being the herd leader, when I tail her I have to trust her judgement on choice of our route and terrain!

On one Tevis I also learnt another lesson with tailing! We had done 85 miles it’s dark and I am alone and my leased horse is not really going forward so I led him for a bit and then decided to tail him for a bit. Foolishly I clipped my long line to his head collar and not to the bit! Yes you know what comes next he recognised he wasn’t far from the finish (in relative terms) and he tanked off with me with little control!! Running fast at 85 miles in Tevis is not something I recommend most things hurt by now and it’s usually 1am…

Tip 5 for Endurance Riding: The Bum Bag

Here are the whys and wherefores of the bum bag , stuff Sally carries on her during Endurance rides and hacks. Always strap a bum bag tightly to your body so it doesn’t bounce, thus you don’t get rubs and blisters. A chapstick is clipped to her number bib, a small scarf is worn around the neck. In order of appearance the content is:

  • Hoof boot strapped to the outside of the bag for those unfortunate incidences when your horses loses its shoe (hasn’t happened to Sally since feeding Aloeride because it feeds excellent hoof growth and strength)
  • Emergency kit knife and safety pins
  • Phone charged obviously but will you have signal when you need it
  • Food cyclist food preferably e.g. GU Bloks and Power bars
  • Spare chapstick
  • Whistle to attract attention should your horse disappear over the horizon
  • Tapes they can help put a hoof boot on, or bind up something that is bleeding
  • Hoof pick always useful
  • Vet wrap beware, they do lose their elasticity, so you want a new one every year
  • Leather string
  • Tie wraps also known as cable ties
  • Electrolytes for people… the hot and bothered rider or even in emergencies when water and salts make all the difference
  • Polo mints say no more…
  • Head torch useful for riding at night, be careful because where you look and thus where the light shines, the horses tend to go. Train your horse before you go into nocturnal competitions

Endurance riding in very wet weather

Endurance riding in very wet weather is something nobody looks forward to but stuff happens… all looked reasonable when Sally took Mia off to Wales for a 2 day 130k in Camarthenshire on 20/21st May 2016. In retrospect and ever the optimist, Sally said “and 130k in those conditions is something very special”. It was to be their preamble to the Cairngorm 100 Ride in Scotland (where they came 2nd last year). To put the weather in perspective, it was so horrid that the event photographer took this header picture from inside her car, and ALL other 130k competitors dropped out. Here are a few tips by Sally Toye on how to make Endurance riding in very wet weather go swimmingly.

I had planned trotting through the swollen stream and Mia just shot into canter and I had given her a loose rein so she could get on with it and I could concentrate on keeping in balance to help her. She certainly knows her own mind and I was a little behind her brain at that moment!

Cairngorm is a one hundred miles in 24 hours horse riding endurance challenge with some basic similarities to the Tevis Cup. In addition there’s a 50 and a 75 mile ride. In 2016, the start was at Glen Clova Hotel with the finish at Nethybridge i.e. riding in opposite direction as in 2015. Safely back from the Cairngorm 100, Sally wrote:

My Californian friends laugh at me when I talk about riding in the wet and for us in the UK it really is a fact of life. The good news is that now we have the gear!! At the first C100 ride last year I went woefully under clothed for me and didn’t have the correct shoes (I had trainers and fell over a lot) and not good enough waterproof trousers. This year I contacted Clive Pollitt the organiser and he suggested lightweight hiking boots and proper trousers. Armed with this and my credit card I had an amusing time in Snow and Rock running around their store until I found some simply gorgeous boot/trainer things from Salomen that supported and on the ride were waterproof. I know they were waterproof as I forded mud, slush and a lot of water and my feet were dry. I also bought some delicious Rab over trousers that are breathable over trousers and kept the wind and wet out and I didn’t sauna underneath! Some of the climbs were 900m so I was very grateful for them at the summit!

For Mia in severe weather I always warm her up and cool her down and her stable is a place she is very content. When riding I judiciously use the rump rug I have for her so that her main “engine” is warm but not too hot and in sideways rain it pays dividends with her. This is a little half rug that rolls up behind the saddle and from in the saddle I can unroll it and keep her dry and warm. I did practice this at home first in the dry!!

I don’t change her feed for the wet but I have noticed she really goes for something like fast fibre after these conditions. I guess fibre in the gut warms her up fast (like school/comfort food does with me!). I am truly stunned what this little horse does when I ask her too and the more time I spend with her (over 2000kms now in competition) the more I realise how important my attitude is. If I am up for it she will say yes, she has truly let me into her life and let me be her riding partner.

Sally Toye was invited by the Endurance GB Wessex Group to talk about Cairngorm 100 (Scotland) and Tevis Cup (United States). She was asked about preparation, comparison between the two rides, and so on. The below is the uncut version for all of whom who are interested and weren’t able to attend the talk on 6th December 2015.

Header picture by Sara Williams.