HORSE GYM: Bob Sample with the centre’s $60,000 horse treadmill.
HORSE GYM: Bob Sample with the centre’s $60,000 horse treadmill. Renee Albrecht

Endurance is like ‘sharing adventure with your best friend’

"IT'S beautiful riding country," Matthew Sample's father Bob said as he surveyed the Sterling Crossing property and its forested mountain surroundings.

Bob helped pioneer endurance riding in the Imbil-Kenilworth area. He and his sons, Matthew and Brook, hold a total of 20 Tom Quilty Cup titles, the sport's most prestigious annual gold cup event, pioneered by RM Williams and Tom Quilty.

"I did the first one in 1970, near Kenilworth," he said.

"I've been doing it regularly in the area since 1987."

Horses have to be in good shape to compete and regular veterinary checks for soreness or injury help keep them that way throughout the ride, he said.

There is even the beginning of an equine gymnasium, a $60,000 horse treadmill, which runs at speeds from 5kmh to 40kmh on varying slopes.

Bob speaks admiringly of Matthew's efforts to get the property up to scratch for the ride.

"Matthew is a very focussed individual with a very successful business," he said.

Today, the rides take competitors over diverse terrain with close veterinary attention to the condition of the horses.

Endurance leads to a unique bond between horse and rider, Matthew says. And that becomes a lasting relationship.

While horses compete only over a few years in some equestrian events, he says endurance horses come into their own at around eight years old and can comfortably compete until they are 15 or more.

"When you're starting at 3am and riding for more than nine hours, it's like sharing an adventure with your best friend."

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