Endurance riders to take on the distance
MORE THAN 150 endurance riders from as far afield as Osaka, Japan and Mt Martha in Victoria will saddle up in Imbil tomorrow as they take on the diverse forestry terrain around the Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex over 40km, 80km and 120km distances.
The Australian Endurance Riders Association event is expected to attract up to 450 visitors to the region thanks to families and support crew members joining the riders, adding about 50 per cent to Imbil's population for the weekend.
Stirling's Crossing Equestrian Complex owner Matthew Sample said he is excited for the ride.
"We are delighted with the response and are looking forward to welcoming riders for a fantastic weekend. The tracks are in excellent condition and the surrounding landscape is looking lush and beautiful,” Mr Sample said.
"I feel like endurance riding is certainly seeing somewhat of a revival as riders who take on the incredible challenge of long distances on horseback realise what a wonderful bonding experience it is with their horses.
"Once you've felt the exhilaration of completing 80km, 120km or even 160km of diverse terrain with your horse ― who really is like your best friend ― it becomes addictive.”
Current QLD champion, Kaylea Mayer, the 2016 Pat Slater Cup winner, Kelsey Irvine, Tom Quilty Cup winners Brook Sample and Jessica Langridge will be in attendance.
Those completing the challenging 120km ride will set off at 2am on Sunday morning with the first leg being completed entirely in the dark. Riders return to the complex for vetting every 30-40 kilometres so vets can check on the horses wellbeing before setting off on further legs.
"Those entering the 80-kilometre ride have the option of 'elevating' to the 120-kilometre distance if both horse and rider feel up to it.
"Elevator rides are a great opportunity for riders wanting to complete the longer distance rides to evaluate how they are travelling at the 80 kilometre mark before having to commit to the 120 kilometres.
"For many riders this will be the first time they take on the longer distance and the excitement for both horse and rider really adds to the energy of the event.
"Endurance riders have the utmost respect and admiration for their horses as the sport requires the horse to have exceptional athleticism, intuition, intelligence and a very competitive nature,” said Mr Sample.
"We have some tough contenders in all the rides and we're looking forward to a very competitive day of riding on Sunday.”
The event is open to the public. Visit: www.stirlings crossingendurance.asn.au.