Recognized discipline by the FEI since 1982, Endurance riding competitions comprise close to one third of all FEI competitions.
In Endurance riding, the rider/horse team must complete a course of a minimum 40 km and a maximum of 160 km through separate phases, each with a compulsory veterinary check, over a 24-hour time period. In North America, competitions are becoming more popular and take place over two to five days, each day on a separate course.
Although this event is a speed event, in competitions today, emphasis is on a horse finishing in good condition rather than finishing first. In fact, officials monitor the horse’s physical condition throughout the course, as there are numerous vet gates to go through that ensure the horse is fit to continue. Furthermore, overriding a tired horse or a horse suffering any other conditions is considered as cruelty and is penalised by disqualification. Therefore, each rider will base its strategy and speed on the condition and difficulty of the course as well as the weather.
Endurance began out of necessity at a time when the horse was the only mode of transportation. The Cavalry would try its horses over a five-day trek, each horse carrying a charge of 200 lbs. (91 kg) over a distance of 300 miles (483 km). The sport of Endurance riding began when Wendell Robie traced the Poney Express Trail from Nevada to California in less than 24 hours.