Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Endurance, distance riders sponsor introductory clinic - Full Article

April 15, 2015
By JOHN BECHTEL - Freelance Writer ( , Minot Daily News

Jutta Schmidt, Minot resident and 32-year veteran healthcare worker at Trinity Hospital, is leading a clinic April 25 to introduce North Dakotans to the sport of endurance horseback riding. Even though this sport is at least 50 years old in the U.S., Schmidt says it is relatively unknown in North Dakota. She, and an avid group of other practitioners, mostly women, intend to change that.

Endurance riding as a sport is somewhere between trail riding and the Kentucky Derby. There is competition to win each race, but for most, endurance horseback competitions are more akin to a marathon race for humans, where anyone who participates and finishes has a sense of accomplishment and bragging rights. With endurance horseback riding, the emphasis is on the horse, not the rider. Although there are awards and prizes, their mantra is "to finish is to win." These events begin with distances of 25-30 miles and increase to 100 miles and more. Your horse has to be fit to continue at all times, including on the other side of the finish line.

There are "pit stops" along the trail, and the "pit crews" are licensed veterinarians who are also certified as control judges by the AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) out of Auburn, Calif., the national regulating body that sanctions the rides and imposes the rules. Most of the race participants have migrated from other horseback disciplines, from pleasure trail riding to showing horses to dressage (an equestrian sport often referred to as horse ballet, where the show horse seems to respond effortlessly to the signals of a seemingly effortless rider). If pleasurable trail riding is a bachelor's degree in horsemanship, endurance riding is a master's degree...

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