Endurance Race Requires Peak Condition

The World Championship 100-mile endurance race was held Jan. 27, 2005, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The race fielded 175 horses, with flags of 41 participating countries flying proudly over the Dubai Endurance Village, a facility built especially for this event. On race day, the horses took off at a gallop under clear skies into the desert sands at 6 a.m. Throughout the race, at roughly 20-mile intervals, every horse underwent a thorough veterinary exam and mandatory holds of 30-40 minutes at five different checkpoints, plus an exam after the finish.

The winning horse, Hachim, ridden by Sheikh Hazza bin Sultan, a member of the UAE team, came galloping across the finish line in great condition in 7 hours, 3 minutes, and 22 seconds--a blistering pace.

The day turned out to be tough for many of the competitors, with only 35% finishing the course. Horses were pulled for lameness or metabolic concerns before spiraling events could jeopardize the welfare of the horse. The 20 veterinarians chosen to evaluate the horses throughout the day were very experienced with endurance racing, and thus were able to make astute decisions for the best safety of the horses. 

In spite of the low completion rate on this day, one notable accomplishment belongs to a game little 14.2-hand chestnut Arabian mare GA Tyfa Mynte, known as "Honey," ridden by Becky Harris of Ohio. In spite of a roller-coaster series of frustrating setbacks in the five weeks preceding the race, including shoeing and hoof problems, on the eve of check-in for the race, the mare pulled it out in the eleventh hour and was able to start. 

Honey and Harris finished in the top 20 competitors in a highly respectable time of 8 hours and 47 minutes. What is most noteworthy about this successful ride is that the mare is 19 years old. Many horses that finished the race were eight to 12 years of age. (A horse is not allowed to compete in 100-mile FEI endurance competitions until it is eight.)

In addition, for this kind of elite venue the horse has to have a Certificate of Capability at two FEI-rated 100-mile events and have achieved at least 500 successful competition miles. The rider must have completed five 100-mile competitions, as well. It takes years of conditioning to prepare for this type of endurance test.

About the Author

Nancy S. Loving, DVM

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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