There are two main types of long distance riding, Endurance and Competitive Trail Riding. In an Endurance ride the winning horse is the first one to cross the finish line, although it does stop periodically for a veterinary check to ensure the animal remains in good health and “fit to continue.” In the US, most endurance rides are either 50 or 100 miles long (80 to 160 kilometres), though shorter rides are organized for beginners. A few longer, usually multi-day rides exist. In the US, the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) sanctions endurance rides. Winning riders complete 100 mile rides in 10-12 hours.
Any breed can compete, but the Arabian generally dominates the top level because of the breed’s stamina and natural endurance abilities.
Competitive Trail Rides are shorter, and factors other than speed are considered. Horses may not come in under or over certain times, and veterinary checks, rider behaviour and other elements play a role in the placings.
Worldwide, rules vary. Endurance rides and races can be any distance, though rarely are they longer than 160 kms for a one-day competition.