Going the Distance: Just the Essentials (& Maybe a Few Other Things)

An important part of any discipline is the necessary equipment to make sure horse and rider are comfortable, safe and healthy. In our series on endurance with Angela Gross Kemerer, we’re taking a closer look at tack and equipment!

We equestrians know that having the right gear is imperative for both ourselves and our horses when pursuing our goals. The right equipment complements the skill set needed for a particular discipline while keeping both horse and rider comfortable. This year at Horse Nation, we’re following endurance rider, Angela Gross Kemerer, and her horse Shae as they train for the notorious Vermont 100 ride. For this epic adventure, the right equipment will keep our dynamic duo performing at their best — and some fun color-coordination never hurt either.

Today we’ll take a look at some of the gear you are likely to find at an endurance ride, and Angela will tell us about her own personal set up. Let’s start off by taking a look at some of the tack you might see on the horses.

Tack/Horse Equipment

A saddle is an integral piece of equipment for any competitive rider. At an endurance event, you are likely to see a variety of brands and styles of saddles. The most important features are a good fit and comfortable seat. The rest really comes down to rider preference. Additionally, some riders choose to use seat covers to add some extra cushion and protect their saddles during all those miles. Angela rides Shae in a Wintec endurance saddle.

Underneath the saddle you are likely to find some type of saddle pad that allows for air circulation and the wicking of sweat. Angela uses a Supracor pad which possesses the previously mentioned properties to keep Shae’s back cool and dry.

For bridles and breast collars, BioThane-coated nylon webbing is preferred medium. The BioThane tack is incredibly durable and easy to clean. It also comes in tons of fun colors allowing riders to coordinate their wardrobes with their horse’s tack.

Angela and Shae rocking the pink. Photo by Becky Pearman. Used with permission.

In addition to tack, there are a few other items riders may need over the course of their ride. Many will pack a set of hoof boots, either as their horse’s primary form of hoof protection, or as a “spare tire” in the case of a thrown shoe. Riders will also pack sponges which are used at the checkpoints to cool horses down.

Rider Equipment

Unlike many other disciplines, their are no formal attire requirements for endurance riders (unless you are a junior rider in which case helmets are required). Participants are allowed to compete in whatever they find to be comfortable. Many choose to wear light weight riding tights that allow their legs to move and breath. For footwear, Angela generally goes with paddock boots and half chaps. Several other riders, however, may go a less conventional route. It is common to see competitors in sneakers, hiking boots, and even crocs!

Crocs to match your BioThane tack no matter the color! Wikimedia Commons/ME and Friends AG/CC

Many riders may also choose to accessorize with items such as GPS watches to help them find their way. Angela’s favorite accessory is her helmet cam which allows her to capture many of the fun moments she and Shae have together out on the trail. You can check out her helmet cam footage on Shae’s Facebook page, and be sure to look for our next installment of Going the Distance where we look at the anatomy of an endurance ride.

Go riding!

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