ERASA – the Endurance Ride Association of South Africa – is a non-profit sports Association that began over thirty years ago.
It was started by a group of like-minded riders who took their cue from the endurance riding associations in Europe. It has grown over the years to a membership base of over 2000 and will continue to grow as more people become aware of the treasure that the South African countryside has to offer.
Internationally, endurance riding has gone from its necessary beginnings to a fully fledged sporting discipline in the past 50 years. Horses being the main form of transportation, it was only natural to seek a horse that had a healthy predisposition to long distances… While Endurance riding started in the US and became a competitive sport there in the 1950s, it was not until the 1960s that Endurance riding came to Europe.
Endurance riding is more than racing against the clock, requiring very astute decision-making with regards to pacing and training of which a thorough understanding between horse and rider is indispensable. Indeed, the emphasis in modern day competition rests on finishing in good condition rather than finishing first – which explains why stringent rules with regards to veterinary checks throughout and after the race are in place, thus ensuring that the health of the horse is indissociable from the sport and the competition. Endurance riding became an FEI discipline in 1982. The first ever sports ride of over 100 km was organised in 1973.
In 2003 there were 251 international competitions the total distance of which was 26,800 km. Given that the average number of riders per competition is 45, the total distance covered by all horses in all FEI Endurance competitions is 1,197,270 km. The distance to the Moon is 384,000 km. So… If all of the distances ridden by all of the competitors in all of the 2003 FEI Endurance rides worldwide were laid end to end, it would cover the distance from the Earth to the Moon and back … and to the Moon AGAIN!
In 2005, Endurance inspired 353 International Events, a far cry from the modest 16 events held in 1995. This dramatic increase places Endurance as the fastest growing discipline in Equestrian sport.
To see an up to date list of all the endurance rides held around South Africa, visit the ERASA website.