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December 01, 2015     
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Distance Riding


Distance riding is a great sport for all ages and skill levels. It tests a horse's condition and stamina, rider intelligence and horsemanship under veterinary supervision on a cross-country trail. Most competitors own and train their own horses. Discipline, dedication and a sense of adventure are the most important ingredients for success. Competitive Trail and Endurance are the two most popular distance sports and Arabians excel at both. Other distance events include Ride & Tie competitions and Mounted Orienteering.

The endurance competitor's motto, "To Finish Is To Win," applies to all types of distance events. Distance riding may be highly competitive and challenging or a recreational activity combining a camping trip with an extended trail ride.

The Arabian Horse Association offers several programs that recognize efforts of distance riders. Click here for a complete list of distance programs.

Come to the AHA National Rides

Want a top notch competition or a leisurely trail ride? AHA has just the thing.

Check out what AHA offers endurance, competitive trail and recreational riders!

Endurance Riding

  • Is governed by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC).
  • Endurance rides vary in distance between 50 and 100 miles in a single day.
  • The horse with the fastest time is the winner providing the horse meets the 'fit to continue' criteria as determined by a veterinary judge.
  • Horses are monitored by veterinarians throughout the ride at predetermined check points.
  • Horses are withdrawn from the ride if judged to be unsound or metabolically unfit.
  • Rides have mandatory rests or 'holds' for the horses throughout the ride.
  • Rides longer than 100 miles are completed over several days with the horses typically covering 50 miles per day.

One of the most famous of all endurance rides is the Tevis Cup. During a 100-mile, 24 hour endurance ride, Tevis Cup participants race through the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In 2007, eight out of the top 10 participants rode Arabians.

Competitive Trail Riding

If you enjoy trail riding in beautiful scenery and making new friends, then you should consider trying competitive trail riding.

  • Competitive Trail Rides are sanctioned by several different groups in the US and Canada. To see a list of the groups currently recognized by AHA, click here.
  • Horses are evaluated before the ride by the ride veterinarian on soundness, physical condition and way of going.
  • In some organizations, riders may also be judged on horsemanship as it applies to trail riding and horses may be judged on trail ability.
  • Trail courtesy, safety, and manners are key elements along with the ability to care for a horse during and after a long day on the trail.
  • Speed is not the primary objective, rather strategy is the key as a minimum and maximum time will be given to cover a set distance.
  • Veterinary monitoring is maintained throughout the ride and checkpoints must be passed where horses must meet pulse and/or respiration criteria.
  • Points are deducted for any changes that occur in way of going, pulse, lameness, injuries, time violations, etc.
  • Rides can be 1-3 days in length, averaging 20-40 miles per day, at 4-7 mph depending on the sanctioning organization. Many offer novice or introductory rides of 12-15 miles to get you started.

Ride & Tie

  • Two riders with one horse travel on a pre-marked trail in a running and riding pattern.
  • Horse must pass a metabolic and physical standard at veterinary checks during and within one hour of finishing the trail.
  • Distances range from 10 to 40 miles in one day.
  • No minimum time restrictions, but a maximum time limit is set by management. Contact the Ride & Tie Association for additional information.

Mounted Orienteering

Competitive Mounted Orienteering is a timed event. The object is to find 5 - 10 markers using the provided map and a compass. Riders compete either individually or in teams of 2 - 6, riding at their own pace. Instructions and a practice marker are provided before the ride. It's easy & fun to learn-all you need is an orienteering type compass (ex: Silva 7), available at many camping supply stores for $10 - $20. Rides are sanctioned by NACMO (Nat'l. Assoc. for Competitive Mounted Orienteering), which provides regular newsletters & year-end awards in several categories at the state and national level. Cumulative records of points earned are kept on both horse & rider.


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