April 2020 will be the first time the New Zealand Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding Championships will be hosted further south than Christchurch.
Organised by champion endurance rider Susie Latta and a small committee of volunteers, the championships will take place over Easter weekend next year across four properties in the Nenthorn Valley in Eastern Otago.
Competitive endurance riding and competitive trail riding covers various distances on horseback. The longest distance in endurance is 160km, shorter distances are also offered. The winner is first over the line.
Competitive trail riding has a different set of rules. Riders are given time to complete a marked course and penalty points are given for arriving at the finish earlier or later than the optimum time.
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The horse's heart rate is taken upon crossing the finish line and then up to 30 minutes later once the heart rate has dropped to as low as the rider thinks it will. These heart rates are added to any time faults from finishing early or late to produce a final score. Lowest score wins.
The championship had never been south of Christchurch because getting venues was quite difficult, Latta said.
"We've been extremely lucky. We have access to four different properties in the valley. It's beautiful undulating countryside. Competitors will be in for a real treat".
Latta expected about 80 competitors to take part and possibly about half would be from the North Island.
"We will be going out of our way to make it a very worthwhile trip for them".
Latta said 12 officials were needed to run the championship event and the committee was looking offshore to get the right people.
"We have a goal to raise $50,000 to make this happen, so raffles, naming rights, sponsorship. You name it, we are looking into it".