Youth riders tackle 160km on horses
A WORLDWIDE field of competitors, some as young as 11 years old, will take on the 2018 Queensland Endurance Riders Association (QERA) State Championships at Imbil over July 13-15.
The event has attracted riders from as far afield as Scotland and Japan in the 180 strong rider contingent tackling the Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex course.
Hosted by Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club, the event is expected to bring more than 600 people, including riders and their support crews, to the Mary Valley district as the riders take on the diverse forestry terrain around the complex over 80km and 160km distances.
Event host and owner of Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex, Matthew Sample, said those tackling the challenging 160km ride would set off at midnight on Friday with many riding most of Saturday to complete within the 24 hour cut-off time.
“There’s a reason why our motto in endurance riding is ‘to complete is to win’ as even those who take out the championships will spend at least ten hours in the saddle to complete the 160km ride,” Mr Sample said.
“Anyone who has not yet completed this distance can use this ride as an opportunity to qualify for next year’s prestigious Tom Quilty Gold Cup which will be hosted at the Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex in 2019.
“All riders must have completed a 160km to participate in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup and as there aren’t many of these rides on the annual calendar, the state championships is a perfect opportunity.”
Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club president Kim Moir said among the first-timers were several eleven-year-olds looking to qualify now in preparation for the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup.
“It’s a real coming of age for our young riders to tackle a 160km, particularly when it’s an opportunity to qualify for the sport’s most prestigious ride,” Ms Moir said.
“These kids have completed 80km and 120km rides but a 160km ride requires a whole new set of skills and incredible commitment, so there will be a high level of excitement for both horse and rider which really adds to the energy of the event.
“Endurance riders have the utmost respect and admiration for their horses as the sport is only suited to horses that have exceptional athleticism, intuition, intelligence and a very competitive nature.
“The ride course sees riders return to the complex for vetting every 30-40 kilometres so vets can check on the horses’ well-being and ensure they are in a good condition before they set off on their next leg.”
Mr Sample said the course for the QERA State Championships was very similar to that for next year’s Tom Quilty Gold Cup so this event provided an excellent opportunity for all riders to get a feel for the terrain.
“At Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex we are lucky to have unique trails through the Imbil State Forest; camping on-site for riders, their teams and their horses and facilities unmatched at any other endurance venue so these events are always a fantastic experience for the whole family.” The event is open to the public. For more, visit www.stirlingscrossing endurance.asn.au.
YOUNG ENDURO: Eleven-year-old Noah Hoogland, on Steel Poppy Hot Chocolate, will compete in a 160km event for the first time at the QERA State Championships.