In a sport where the motto is 'To complete is to win', there were plenty of winners at the Canowindra Challenge on the weekend of June 18/19.
Horses and riders came from all over the state to the Toogong Road ride base near Canowindra to take part in a range of distances from a leisurely 10km social ride to a challenging 80kms endurance event.
While Arabians and derivatives are the most popular choice of mount for endurance, the shorter distances encourage riders of all ages and disciplines to give endurance riding a go on the horse they have.
So it was at the ride in June, when Arabs and Standardbreds competed alongside ponies and brumbies, Appaloosas and Quarterhorses in bracing winter weather with plenty of sunshine.
More than 140 competitors took up the challenge, camping alongside their horses for the weekend.
With 10km, 20km and 40km rides on offer on the Saturday, riders aged from 10 to 70 pitted themselves against the weather, the terrain and the clock.
Their chosen distance completed, they returned to the ride base to present their horses to the vets to ensure their temperature, pulse and respiration was within designated parameters and horses were sound. To be deemed 'fit to continue' is regarded as a successful completion and reason for celebration.
Sunday morning dawned crisp and foggy at the 5.30 start for the 70 participants in the 80km ride.
Largely routed along dirt roads, the course provided stunning views of the beautiful Belubula region.
Track marker and Ride Organiser, Louise Piddington said it was a pleasure to welcome competitors and their families to share in the wonderful countryside.
"The Belubula Endurance Riders are passionate about promoting the sport of endurance and our team put so much work into making sure that horse welfare was at the forefront, that newcomers to our sport felt included and that people got to experience new riding trails."
First across the line in a little over 4 hours was Middleweight rider, Jenny Shepheard from Nelligan riding her homebred 10-year-old Arabian, Currowan Maximus.
Ms Shepheard, who has been doing endurance for more than 20 years, said Maximus had performed well.
"He hasn't had the chance to do much with drought, bushfires and Covid recently so I was very proud of him," she said.
Ms Piddington thanked everyone who came and supported the ride which gave competitors the chance to complete their last ride before the [National Championship] 2022 Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride at Tooraweenah in mid July.
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