Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Centre at Imbil has hosted a very successful restart to the 2020 season for endurance in Queensland.
Endurance horses, their riders and crew converged on the Mary Valley this month to resume the season which had been shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic just before their scheduled Easter long weekend event.
The venue had tight health protocols that required all potential attendees to register in advance before gaining access to the venue.
Five endurance rides were held on the weekend of 11-12 July. On the Saturday an 80km ride started at 4am, a 40km ride at 1.30pm followed by a 20km ride at 1.45 pm.
Light rain in the days leading up to the event had been ideal as it softened the hard dirt roads in the adjacent forestry areas which comprised much of the course. During the event the weather was ideal for horses; overcast and cool.
A total of almost 180 entries was very encouraging for the sport after the months of being unable to compete. Higher than expected completion rates were a result of skilled rider judgement, good conditions under foot for the horses and ideal weather.
The Saturday 80km ride had 50 starters with a completion rate of 84 per cent. First over the finish line was Renee Kelso on the Arabian stallion PVE Remington in a riding time of four hours 53 minutes.
Experienced vets check horses carefully before the ride, at the 40km check, also after the finish. Horses not meeting welfare criteria for stress and soundness are withdrawn.
The 40km ride had 64 starters with a completion rate of 91 per cent, and the 20km ride 20 starters and a 100 per cent completion.
On the Sunday, a second 80km ride also began at 4am. Thirty-four competitors started in this ride and the completion was 88 per cent. In this ride first over the finish line was a Junior rider Ben Hoey on My Name Is Earl in a riding time of 5hrs 49 min.
It was followed by a 40km ride at 6am. There were 41 started with 93 per cent completing.
Many riders used the 40 and 20 km rides to introduce horses to endurance and the vetting protocols involved.
Competitors travelled to the event from areas as far as Central Queensland and Northern New South Wales whereas most were from South east Queensland.
In endurance all competitors who are successful receive a completion award. Best Condition Horse Awards were given in the 80 km rides.
The event was well supported by sponsors.
The Stirling’s Classic Event will be held on 1-2 August where the feature will be the annual 120km championship ride. In past years this has been well supported by interstate, some overseas riders as well as by locals.
The Stirling’s club looks forward to also hosting the Queensland Championship event early in October.
If this month’s event was any indication it will be a very successful 2020 season for endurance in Queensland.