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South and West Wales Group

 

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Starter Pack

This section is divided into

1. Your first pleasure ride

2. Your first competitive ride

3. Tips


1. Your first pleasure ride

  If you are interested in an EGB ride, ring the organiser up for the entry address and ride details. Rides do get over subscribed and there is usually a closing date for entries of a fortnight before the ride date for competitive rides so it pays to be organised and prepare early to avoid disappointment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pleasure Rides usually consist of around 16km (10 miles), 25km (15 miles) and occasionally 30km (18 miles). There is a minimum and a maximum speed pleasure rides need to be completed in.

16km at 8k per hour (min) = 2 hours, 16km at 12k per hour (max) = 1 hour 20 minutes.

25km at 8k per hour (min) = 3 hours 8 minutes, 25km at 12k per hour (max) = 2 hours 5 minutes.

30km at 8k per hour (min) = 3 hours 45 minutes, 30km at 12k per hour (max) = 2 hours 30 minutes.

As long as you ride between these times you will not be eliminated for riding too slowly or too fast. Any semi-fit horse or pony will be able to achieve the minimum speed of a 16km ride. Not all ride organisers stick rigidly to the minimum time required so if you are worried about your horse or pony's fitness speak to the ride organiser.

  A pleasure ride run on its own means there will be no farrier or vet on site. A pleasure ride run in conjunction with a competitive ride means that you will be sent after the closing date a pleasure ride vet sheet, ride instructions and a map. The ride instructions and map may also be downloadable from the website.

  It is wise to turn up at least half an hour before you need to vet your horse so your horse has time to settle. On arrival you should go to the secretaries in usually a small caravan/gazebo/horse trailer to check in and pick up your numbered bib for the day. Check/ask if the route has been changed (it does happen).  Check also what the markers look like that you will be following - it could be red and white tape, sawdust, day glow orange spray or all three! So it pays to check.

If this is a pleasure ride with no farrier or vet, tack your horse up and enjoy your ride. It is your responsibility to give your bib number to the timekeeper at the start and end of the ride and to all the checkpoints in between. Follow the markers - if you think you have got lost go back to the last marker you saw and go from there. Don’t follow the horse in front, how do you know they are not lost!

  If you have to vet etc. wearing your bib take your horse untacked with no oil on the hooves to the farrier with your pleasure ride vet sheet. The farrier will check your horse’s shoes and tick a box to say they are acceptable, then go to the vets. The vets will ask you to trot your horse up in the area set out. If it is not too busy ask the vet to take your horse's heart rate (before the trot up). It is a good way to tell how fit your horse is and good experience for your horse. Resting heart rate is around 40 beats per minute but all horses are slightly different. Having passed the vetting they will keep your vet sheet and you are ready to tack up and enjoy the ride. If a map is provided take it you may need it! A waterproof map case is useful.

  On returning from your ride you must present your horse un-tacked to the vets within half an hour. The vet will ask you to trot up and again get them to take your horse's heart rate (before the trot up) as it will help you to know how fit your horse is. Ideally you want your horse’s heart rate as close to your horse’s normal resting heart rate.

  Congratulations, you have completed your first ride. Give it at least half an hour and return your bib to the secretary and pick up your rosette, get your ride record card signed and give your horse lots of praise!

  Although it looks a lot to learn it really isn’t that scary. The vets and farriers are usually really nice and everyone understands as we were all novices once so don’t be put off - have a go! The South & West Wales Group looks forward to meeting you.

2. Your first competitive ride

  The procedure for entering your first competitive ride is much the same as a pleasure ride run in conjunction with a competitive ride previously mentioned.  After the closing date you will be sent a competitive ride vet sheet, ride instructions and a map. Your vet time will be marked on the ride instructions.  Vet times are carefully allocated based on the distances people are riding.  Those doing longer distances will have earlier vet times.

  

A competitive ride is run in a more formal manner, you will be provided an individual time to vet your horse. The farrier procedure is the same as previously mentioned however the vetting is different. Having filled in sections 1-3 on your vet sheet look at section 4. If your horse has any injury marks, fresh cuts, rubs, lumps or bumps prior to the vetting write them in this section. If you fail to do so and the vet doesn’t see them but notices them on your return vetting you could be penalised for something that did not occur during the ride.

The vet will take your horse's heart rate over a full minute. The vet will then check your horse over for any lumps and bumps etc. Ideally your horse should be trained to stand quietly, you will then be asked to trot up in the area provided.

   You are usually expected to be ready to start your ride within half an hour of vetting. A 34km / 20 mile ride can be quite demanding for a young horse or a horse that has not had much experience (practice at pleasure rides). Even if your horse is a good eventer, hunter or cross country horse don’t assume your horse is fit for endurance. Take it steady, a lame horse is an eliminated horse!

   The minimum and maximum speed for a novice horse and rider competing in a 34km ride is 34km at 8k per hour (min) = 4hrs 15 minutes, 34km at 15k per hour (max) = 2hrs 16 minutes.

If you are competing in a “graded” ride then your horse’s heart rate at the end of the ride will (as long as your horse is otherwise sound and penalty free) depict the grade you will receive. At the back of your EGB handbook you will find a penalty chart: - novice – ride distance 30 – 50km. The grading system is 1, 2, 3, 4 and Completion.

If you ride at 10k per hour you maximise your chance of a grade one without over stressing your horse unnecessarily:

 34km at 10k per hour = 3hrs 24 minutes.

To achieve a grade one a heart rate of 44 beats per minute (bpm) or lower is required, to achieve a Completion 64 bpm or lower is required. For your first ride do not worry too much about your grade, just get round safely and sound and enjoy the experience.

   On returning from your ride you must present your horse to the vet within half an hour. In that half hour give your horse time to drink and have a nibble at his hay net, un-tack him, wash him down, pick out the hooves and check him over. At the vetting keep your horse as calm as possible, the vet will take your horse's heart rate. They may pinch the skin (to see if your horse is showing signs of dehydration) and will check for any lumps and bumps before asking you to trot up. As long as the horse’s heart rate is 64 bpm or below and your horse is sound you have successfully completed your first competitive ride, congratulations! 

Give your horse some time to relax before travelling home. The paper work can take time at busy rides so be patient and be sure to thank the organisers. A thank you goes a long way.

 3. Tips

Take more than you need - most vehicles look like a travelling tack shop when you look in them! Take spare girths, numnahs, etc. You may start the day in glorious sunshine but by the time you come back from the ride it could be tipping down with rain so have a selection of rugs with you so whatever the weather your horse is catered for. You too might appreciate a bag of dry clothes. Ideally you should have a horse first aid kit for any minor injuries, lots of buckets, plenty of water and full hay nets.

Let your horse drink at puddles, and streams. If you’re lucky enough to have a crew out on route, have a bucket of water waiting for you.

Take a sponge with you if your horse gets hot and sweaty, he will appreciate a sponge down.

Don’t forget the rider, you're no good to your horse if you are tired, hungry and dehydrated so look after yourself and take a drink with you.

Most ride organisers now give out two sticky labels with your bib number on, the venue telephone number and a few emergency instructions / details. The idea is to stick one on your saddle (usually the back of the cantle so it is visible) and the other one on you again ideally so it is visible. This is done so that should you unfortunately part company with your horse the ride organiser will be able to find you and reunite you again!

Some riders wear a bum bag and it is generally a good idea to carry one for a hoof pick, vet wrap, mini “human” first aid kit, headache tablets, baler twine/string, small penknife, glucose sweets/chocolate, mobile phone, whistle, foil survival blanket, small pen & paper.

It is generally recommended/recognised that for every 16km (10 miles) a horse rides he gets a day off and a day off for travelling. Therefore if you do a 32km (20 mile) ride you would give your horse 3 days off afterwards to recover.

Helping at a ride is a great way to see what goes on. Many organisers struggle to get helpers so they would appreciate you giving up your time to help. There are many jobs you can do from being a gate steward, vet writer, time keeper, to check point steward. You will usually be put with someone else and horse talk soon starts. You can learn so much and make a new friend.

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