New Rules Underway for Endurance Racing

Endurance racing has become a rapidly growing sport, as it appeals to riders of all ages and many families compete together as a way of bonding and enjoying an activity together. Horses of all ages are also able to compete, and most riders don’t necessarily enter for winning, but to have fun with their trusted steeds.

Endurance racing can vary according to the event, with some races taking place over a few days, while some are run in a day, giving riders an allocated distance to complete. But until now, the rules of the sport have been relaxed compared to other horse racing events, and it is now being revised in regard to improved safety.

Taking part in endurance racing is demanding on both the horse and rider. The terrain is often difficult and most of the courses used for racing have a few fences and stages involving water to test the relationship between the horses and their riders, and to make the ride a little more interesting. Safety precautions have always been in place in regard to the minimum age of horses, specified maximum distances for the horses, and compulsory rest periods and veterinary check-ups between stages.

With the growing popularity of the sport, the FEI (International Equestrian Federation) has taken the endurance rule book under advisement, and has made minor changes to every page. The first vital point for the FEI to address was the equipment used by endurance riders, such as gear used on the horses, dress code and kit accessories. Secondly, the International Equestrian Federation felt it necessary to address the competition format, suggesting that skill levels be applied to the sport, so that riders are forced to work their way up to competing in a FEI Championship.

The levels have been suggested because, at present, riders are able to enter into any endurance race without having any prior experience in the sport. Making riders work through ability levels will ensure the safety of the horses, other riders and the competing rider. It also allows riders to gain experience in regard to terrain, obstacles and the sport of endurance racing.

Other proposed revisions have also been made and the changes will be sent out to federations across the world, for their feedback and comments. Once the new rules have been confirmed by the federations, the FEI will put the rules in print and circulate the new book to all by the year 2009. It is hoped that the new rules will be embraced by the racing community, as the International Equestrian Federation has taken the riders and their horses in consideration while revising the rule book, without changing the face of the sport.