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Last update

15 September 2014

The following tips for riders are intended to take you up to the first ride of the season, doing either a 32Km (20mile) or 48Km (30 mile) ride or a 64 Km (40 mile) GHR Qualifier.


There are three main ingredients (like a pudding) needed if you are to be a success at long distance riding, which I prefer to call endurance riding.


Your horse must be exceptionally sound, with strong legs and a good back. Must be of correct size and temperament for the rider. Keen but not full of nervous energy.


ie. The crew, groom or helper. This person must be thick skinned, a good driver and map reader; interested in horse and rider with the ability to take charge of horse and also trot and present horse to the vet. General good organiser.


Must be a competent and fit rider, determined to succeed. Should be good at maths for working out riding times, and a good map reader. Essential to be able to remount quickly if necessary and often helpful to be able to lead the horse at a walk or run.




Check that:

1. Membership to BHS, EGB, SERC, horse registration, etc, are up to date.

2. Ensure you have entry and stable forms ready for rides.

3. Have horse details handy (age, height, breeding, registration number, owner/rider, etc).

4. Remember to have ready: relevant o/s maps, map holders, map measurer, calculator, fluorescent pens.

When you get your rules and schedule – read them!

Veterinary & Worming

1. Contact your vet.

2. Arrange for him to do ‘flu and tetanus jabs and teeth.

3. Ask his opinion on suitability of the horse and any other problems.

4. Ensure vaccination card is in order as without it you will be sent home from some rides.


1. Contact your farrier.

2. Work out shoeing requirements.

3. Explain your sport and its special problems to him.

4. Ask his opinion on pads, cushions, hardened tipped nails for roadwork.

5. Remember – "No foot, no horse".


1. Check your tack.

2. Make sure that it fits and is comfortable for both horse and rider.

3. Try to make sure you have adequate spares in case of breakages. In a season I get through:

1 Girth; 2 Numnahs; 1 set of stirrup leathers; 1 bridle; 2 sets sheep skin nosebands plus repairs to saddle.

4. Make sure saddle is stuffed and fits horse.

5. Contact saddler, explain the sport and its problems to him.

6. Try different tack, e.g. hackamore, western saddle, seat saver.


1. What you wear must be comfortable.

2. Underwear – avoid seams on rear end or be sorry!

3. Comfortable jodhpurs.

4. Socks and riding boots – leather or rubber. Hockey or football boots, socks and trainers, half chaps and trainers (use trainers with stirrup guards or dapps).

5. T-shirt, sweatshirt with gortex coat.

6. Jockey skull cap or riding hat to current standard.


1. Measure the horse’s girth, then work out its approximate total weight. This gives a base line for concentrates/forage intake proportional to the work.

2. A balanced diet. This means the digestible energy value and protein. The value of feed must be in proportion to the energy expended by the horse. As a start, use a good coarse mix, salt, calcium mineral supplement and sugar beet pulp. Also, good quality hay.

3. The proportion of hard feed will increase over hay as the work load increases, so do not be afraid to adjust the feed if your horse becomes difficult.

4. Ensure good clean fresh water is available at all times.

5. Correct feed alone will not guarantee success!


1. Check your towing vehicle.

2. Check your box or trailer.

3. Get it serviced.

4. Put vehicle and trailer together and make sure everything works.

5. Check lights, floor and tyres.

6. Try loading your horse. If "no go", spend part of January on loading. It is better to spend time at home than spoil your first ride of the season.

Stable Management

1. Many horses eat straw so try to bed on shavings, peat or paper.

2. The use of "Stable Boy" prevents nasty ammonia fumes.

3. Good ventilation in the stable is essential.

4. Be prepared to clip horse as work increases.

5. Rugging the horse prevents loss of condition.

6. Always give plenty of grooming as this is a good massage.

Training the Human

1. Get fit. Riding on its own will not be enough.

2. Work out your own training programme.

3. Do some jogging, hill walking and swimming.

4. Exercise bikes, rowing and running machines etc. are useful.

5. A tired rider will be no asset to the horse.

6. Have a few lessons.

Check List

1. Make or obtain a good sized tack box which will fit in the back of the vehicle to hold items which you may need on the ride.

Tack box might contain:

a. spare set of shoes and nails

b. spare girth, stirrup leathers and bridle

c. stopwatch, stethoscope, thermometer, compass, knife, scissors, hole maker, hoof pick, jeyes fluid, rubber gloves

d. white and black antiseptic puff powder

e. zinc and green cream, vaseline, surgical spirit

f. animal lintex, bandages, etc

g. leg ice or radiol and mentholated spirit

h. hat silk, gloves, waterproof leggings and top


Grooming kit, rugs, leggings, tail bandages, 1 gallon water container, 5 gallon water container, buckets, sponges, scrappers, funnel, towels.



"Country & Distance Rider"

"Today’s Runner"


"Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding" by Wentworth Tellington and Linda Tellington-Jones.

"Distance Riding from Start to Finish" by Johnson and Johnson

"Long Distance Riding" by Marcy Drummond

"Long Distance Riding Explained" by Rachael Kydd

"The Event Groom’s Handbook" by Jeanne Kane and Lise Waltman

"Fit to Compete" by Christine E. Hughes

"A Girl, a Horse and a Dog" by Belinda Braithwaite

"Going the Distance" by Sue Parslow


A Twelve Week Training Programme

Weeks 1-4

1. Walk only on roads to tighten tendons.

2. 6 days a week with 1 day off.

3. Start at 30 minutes and increase to 1.5 to 2 hours.

4. Include variety, ie. Lunge work and schooling.

5. Include mounting and dismounting for gates.

Weeks 5-6

6. Trotting and walking on level ground for 1 to 1.5 hours – intermittently (control horse).

7. Reduce road work, continue paces on grass verges, fields, etc.

8. Again include lunge work and schooling.

Weeks 7-8

9. Start trotting with canter on soft going.

10. Increase canter from 2-3 minutes to 4-5 minutes with the same time for trot.

11. Canter and trot on a hill if possible.

12. Again lunge and school.

Weeks 9-11

13. Continue trot and canter work, increasing to 10 minutes canter with 2-3 minutes trot, for 1 to 1.5 hours.

14. Lungeing, schooling and general hacks.


Three good gallops for the same distance as the canter and take your horse’s pulse after the gallop. The faster the pulse drops to normal levels, the fitter the horse.

16. Do one 8Km (5 mile) ride at 16Km/h (10mph). Take pulse when you get home, then after 20 minutes. It should drop to 40-50 from 80-90.

17. One 16Km (10 mile) ride at 16Km/h (10mph). Monitor pulse.

18. One 40Km (25 mile) ride at 13Km/h (8mph).

Week 12

19. General hacks.

20. One interval training session gallop – canter – gallop.



Dehydration 1-5 seconds

Respiration 12-20/minute

Lumps & bumps

Pulse 36-42/minute

Temperature 99.5-101.5degF

Before the ride:

1. Check weather reports (snow, wind, sun).

2. Final tack check, ie. Clean numnahs and own clothes etc.

3. Load trailer.

4. Take water from home. Assume 1 gallon for each 3 miles ridden.

5. If you have not clipped your horse, then do it now!

6. 3-4 days before the ride have new shoes fitted.

7. Transfer route onto an o/s map, work times out and ensure your Gofer has the map and times.

8. Discuss with your Gofer places to meet.

9. Sit down with magnifying glass and follow the route with the talk through. Follow contours of hills, roads, farms, woods and churches, etc.

10. Rider to carbohydrate intake! Load beer, pasta and chips, all of which help on ride day.

Updated November 2004