Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Zealand: Bring it on, says endurance rider

Marlborough Epress

Few riders in next month's South Island Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Championships will be more familiar with the course than Kim Swan.

While the Chestnut Valley course may be a long way from her Rai Valley home, Swan has covered most of Marlborough either on foot or horseback.

An avid pig hunter, Swan took up trail and endurance riding 12 years ago and hasn't looked back.

"Basically I was widowed and had my hunting, but nothing else I was committed to. Del Bissell found me an endurance horse. He was a big fat blob and getting him back to work and into shape gave me incentive to ride."

Riding with the Marlborough Endurance and Trail Riding Club, Swan quickly moved into the open grade for trail riding and has since graduated to endurance rides.

For the January 9-10 South Island champs, Swan will ride 12-year-old mare Roselea Shady in the 103km endurance event.

Swan said it was hard to judge how long the ride would take, but the maximum cut off time was 10 hours.

The prospect of spending long hours in the saddle may not be thrilling to all, but Swan said she was attracted to trail and endurance riding by its laid-back nature and because it was illegal for riders to use whips or spurs, meaning horses weren't forced to do anything they didn't want to.

"It's a horse sport anyone can do. If I can do it anyone can. I've never been to pony club or anything. You can ride any horse and wear any clothing. There's no dress code or uniform."

Swan also found her vast knowledge of the Marlborough back country gained through years of hunting and working in the forestry industry was in demand when it came to finding tracks for rides.


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