Friday, May 29, 2009

Australia: Clare saddles up to ride 240km in South Africa

looking foward to the
challenge of representing
Australia's Endurance Squad


Local schoolteacher and endurance rider Clare Fleming has been chosen to ride for Australia in South Africa.

This follows an invitation from the Australian Endurance Squad to join the team competing in the South African Endurance Championships, held in the first week of July.

The horse riding championships consist of three 80-kilometre rides over three days, a total riding distance of 240kms.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to see another part of the world, and I am very excited about the prospects of riding in Africa," Clare said.

"It will be a great experience to wear the green and gold."

The Australian team arrive at Johannesburg Airport on June 27, and then spend a week getting to know their allocated horse before the ride at Fauresmith on July 7.

This trip is self-funded, although accommodation and horses will be supplied by the host country.

Clare's teammates in the Australian Endurance Team are Jennifer Gilbertson, Mette Sutton and Tami Parnell from New South Wales, Gayle Holmes from Queensland, and Jil Bourton from South Australia. The Team Manager is Graeme Gilbertson. There are also two crew members, Robyn Parnell and Liz Armstrong.

Being accepted into the Australian team was a great achievement for Clare, as she began endurance riding in 2002, following lots of encouragement to do a 40km training ride at Tingha.

Since then, Clare has worked her way up to the top level of competition in endurance.

The Fauresmith International Endurance Ride is considered one of the toughest in the world.

The first ride was in 1965 as a consequence of an argument in the magazine Landbou Weekblad about the breed of horse that had the best endurance ability.

A race settled the issue, with the Arabian breed emerging victorious.

The ride has grown to between 250 and 300 entries each year.

"I believe it will be a great experience and an exciting way to see South Africa, looking between the ears of a horse," Clare states.

Clare was chosen in the team due to her consistent success as an endurance rider.

She placed eighth Lightweight in the NSW 160km State Championships and second Lightweight in the QLD 160km State Championships in 2008.

She was among the 48 per cent that successfully completed the Nanango Tom Quilty, Australia's National/International Endurance Competition.

She placed third Lightweight Endurance Rider and was successful in winning the prestigious Best Condition award.

By the end of last year, Clare ranked fourth in Australia for the Lightweight Point Score.

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