Characteristics of Endurance Competitions and Risk Factors for Elimination in New Zealand during Six Seasons of Competition (2010/11–2015/16)
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, 4442 Palmerston North, New Zealand
School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, 4442 Palmerston North, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 August 2019 / Revised: 22 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 27 August 2019
International media has recently raised awareness about horse welfare during endurance competitions. However, much of this attention is focused on international level competitions (FEI) and little is known about domestic level competitions and their risk factors for elimination. The characteristics of endurance rides and risk factors for elimination of horses due to lameness and metabolic reasons were described by assessing the records of all competitors during six competition seasons in New Zealand (2010/11–2015/16). Endurance ride entries were dominated by lower distances (40–80 km), with the number of eliminations increasing with ride distance. The competition season was structured with the longer, more competitive rides at the end of the season, allowing the shorter, earlier rides to be used as conditioning rides. Ride distance, location and progression of the endurance season were significantly associated with eliminations due to lameness or metabolic reasons and horse age was significant for metabolic reasons only. The changing profile of endurance competitors over the years showed a decreasing number of higher level riders and subsequent increase in lower level riders competing in shorter rides. This profile with low competition speeds, demonstrates better horse welfare outcomes than seen in other parts of the world.