Cleburnenews.com - Full Article
by Wayne Ruple
Anywhere from 100 – 400 endurance riders and their horses are expected to gather today in the Choccolocco Management Area in the Shoal Creek Division of the Talladega National forest just north of Heflin for the annual Alabama Yellowhammer Endurance Horse Ride.
Horses, from mules to Arabians, and their riders will begin today with timed 75-mile, 55-mile and 30-miles events near Coleman Lake throughout today and Friday with a 10-mile “fun ride” on Saturday.
An endurance ride is a marathon for horses across distances from 25-100 miles. The distances normally offered are 25, 30, 50, 55, 75 and 100 miles. Twenty-five milers have a maximum of six hours to complete, 30 – seven hours, 75 – 12 hrs, 55 – 13:15 hrs, 75 – 18 hrs and 100 – 24 hrs.
The ride is a run over a pre-marked, pre-measured trail. Trails are marked with color coded ribbons and directional arrows. Trails that will be used after dark will be marked with glow sticks. Each evening there is a briefing for the riders about the trails they will be following and the procedures they are to follow during the next day’s ride.
There are designated checks every 12-20 miles where the horses must stop and be examined by veterinarians and rest, drink and eat for a pre-determined time before continuing on the next leg of the ride. There are timers at the vet check location to officially release riders onto the trail and to record what time the riders come off the trail into a vet check. The vets examine the horse for signs of lameness, heart rate, dehydration, etc. to make sure the horse is fit to continue.
If the horse is judged not to be fit to continue, the horse and rider are not allowed to continue. Each evening after the ride, every horse/rider team that completes the ride with a sound and health horse within the maximum time limit gets a completion award.
Various awards are presented based on the sport motto “To Finish Is To Win” and the health of the horse always comes first...
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