On September 18th the newly formed ECCTG Endurance Riding Team, the “Cheshire Challengers” took part in the Endurance GB Riding Clubs Team Event Final over 33kms (20.5 miles) at The College Equestrian Centre near Bedford. Our squad of four riders, myself, Jane Wyatt, Sue Williams & Marjory Higgs, had qualified at the Wirral Ride in July with the leading score in our area thus making us determined to contest the final. Sadly Marjory lacked the time to maintain her horse’s fitness due to family commitments but as three riders counted for a team the rest of us decided to go anyway.
The venue was at a very smart equestrian centre with excellent facilities. After heavy overnight rain, the day of the ride dawned fine & breezy giving near perfect conditions. The course was a flat circular route with marvellous going almost entirely off road on fields & bridleways. Jane was heard to remark on several occasions that she had never cantered for such a long distance before! The horses all went well together & we maintained a steady pace of over 13 kph (8 mph) throughout giving us time to walk in calmly at the finish. Success in endurance riding depends not only on a good riding speed & a sound horse but also on the final pulse rate which needs to be low. Generally the fitter the horse the lower the pulse, but often outside influences come into play to upset this. Fortunately all our horses were calm & vetted well with excellent pulse rates. As we had ridden at the optimum speed we were delighted & dared to hope our chances could be good.
As we gathered in the indoor school for the prize giving tension was mounting as awards were given from 6th place in reverse order. As we had not been mentioned by 3rd place we began to realise that we had either done very well indeed or come nowhere. We were announced in 2nd place which at our first attempt was amazing. The winners were Delamere Forest giving Cheshire riding clubs the two top spots out of twelve teams from across the country. Now the East Cheshire Combined Training group is definitely on the endurance riding map!