Rogate and District Riding Club have again qualified for the Red Dragon endurance championship.
They are a relatively-new club who took up endurance riding only two years ago. It was in 2012 that member Dawn Knee entered her first EGB ride and this was the catalyst for the club’s passion for endurance competitions.
Knee became team manager and organiser and the response from members was overwhelming.
They qualified in 2013 for the Red Dragon Festival of Endurance in Wales, finishing on a score of 104 and coming second in one of the most enduring and challenging rides in the country.
This year was equally successful and buoyed that success the club have been encouraging more members to participate in shorter-distance rides in the hope they would also get the endurance bug and join the teams.
In preparation for this year’s Red Dragon championships the club started the season at the Graffham ride in March, when 20 members competed. Since then they have competed at the Findon Southdowns ride, Berkshire Down, Hornshill, Ashdown and Fordingbride.
Endurance GB confirmed they had again qualified for the championships in Wales last month. The league tables for the season showed the championship was going to be tough.
RDRC sent a team of six riders, their horses and nine support crew. The Rogate Rabble were Paige Knee with Derry, Clare Sedgwick (Harv), Sherrie Cooper (Meg), Carole Portlock (Flynn), Faye Mitchell (Bonnie), Michael Doody (Ralphy), with support from Pam Threader, Michael Fullick, Shaun Linley, Becky Rogers, Neil Sedgwick, Hannah Sedgwick, Tim, Michelle and Dawn Knee.
They travelled to the Brecon Beacons, where the weather was perfect for endurance racing. But nothing could prepare them for the terrain they were to encounter very soon into the ride, particularly for the first-timers.
Named by the event organisers as The Hill, there was a 3.5km vertical climb into the heavens. Nevertheless all the horses made it to the top without any problems.
Horses and riders were supported on course and all six horses and riders came back safe and sound, posting huge personal bests. Every rider rode just under 13kmph for 36km over undulating ground.
RDRC again come second in the country with a huge team score of 120 beating last year’s score by 16 points. Knee said: “We were over the moon and very proud of our horses.
“I can’t put our success down to one thing. It’s taken a huge amount of organising, dedication and determination from everyone. The amount of effort our riders have put in to get their horses fit, keeping them fit and pushing them to their limits while still keeping them sound had been a difficult balance, but an amazing achievement.”
The new season starts early next year and their first planned ride is Graffham Down on Sunday, March 22.
Any budding endurance riders can contact EGB via www.endurancegb.co.uk or your local riding club. Dawn Knee can be contacted via the RDRC website – www.rogaterc.co.uk – or on their Facebook page.