Monday, 25 August 2014

Newstead Endurance Ride

The annual Newstead Endurance Ride took place recently. The Hofmeyr club of ERASA (Endurance Ride Association of SA) organizes this ride that has been going for a number of years. 

A pair of riders on their 3rd loop

Last year was an exception when it was cancelled due to a bad outbreak of African Horse sickness in the Eastern Cape.Originally it used to be held in February, but it was scheduled for August this year.

Newstead is a farm that borders onto Rookwood and belongs to George Filmer. Interestingly Rookwood itself was a farm granted to the Filmer family in 1854 and remained in this family name until the late 1940’s.

Charles Lord (Time keeper) and Uncle George and family
George Filmer, who is affectionately known as Uncle George is close to 90 years of age, but this type of event is just what he enjoys. He spent at least two weeks making sure everything was in order for the riders and their families when they would arrive to camp and participate in the ride. His son, Trevor had to see to the measuring and marking of the track while Jen Millman had to prepare the catering for the participants and families.

Trevor Filmer with Levi
Endurance riding is a popular equine sport practised by many competitors, who either live on farms or are closely linked to farming life.  The ride is a competition to test the speed and endurance of a horse.  It consists of various loops over different terrains and the skill of the rider is tested by knowing the capabilities of the horse and its ability to cover the different distances and terrains.  

A horse being checked by the vet

Before and between each loop the rider has to present his/her horse at the vet check where the horse is checked on a pulse rate (it has to be less than 64 beats per minute), hydration, lameness, as to whether the gut is working and any other potential problem that could be detrimental to the horse’s health. The distances offered at the Newstead ride were 40km and 80km rides. This year an additional 40 km ride was done on the Friday afternoon and we then refer to this event as a back-to-back ride.

PSV Orient waiting to be checked by the vet

Friday a group of 11 riders completed their vet check just after lunch time and took off on their loop of 40km. These riders were riding novice horses.  A novice horse has to complete a certain number of 40km rides before progressing on to 80km rides at less than 16km/hour. Unfortunately one of the riders did not complete as he fell off his horse. All the other entrants completed their distance and passed their vet checks.


view from Mapassa

Saturday morning at 07h00 saw the first group of 80km riders leave for the first loop with the 2nd group departing at 07h30. The first loop took them over the Mapassa Mountain with magnificent views from the top of the mountain.

Lauren waiting to depart on 2nd loop

Laura waiting to depart on 3rd loop
Wendy waiting to be vet checked

The first rider (Lauren Louwrens) returned at least 15 minutes ahead of the 2nd and3rd placed riders, Laura Seegers and Wendy Louise Skidmore respectively. The 2nd loop runs on the ‘triangle’ section past the Hilton Methodist Church that is all gravel roads. 

Wendy descending the hill at Rookwood.

The 3rd and final loop takes the riders down towards Tylden on the gravel road and then cuts back through Rookwood from down on the Tuli river all the way back up towards the lands with the final stretch leaving Rookwood and heading back to Newstead.  

Laura on PSV Matrix catching up with lead rider


The leading riders were in the same positions at the end of the 2nd loop.  Lauren starting her last loop with a good lead, however this was not to remain as Laura on PSV Matrix increased her speed to a good 21km/h to make up 14 minutes and pipped Lauren at the post.


Most of the 40km riders in the 2nd group completed their ride over the mountain between 2½ to over 3 hours.


All horses vetted after completion of this leg, passed.  Although there were not that many entrants, this is a remarkable achievement.


Endurance rides like this brings a whole group of people together and from many different parts of the country.  Besides the local participants other riders came from Kokstad, Jeffreysbay, King Williams’ Town, Middelburg and Graaff Reinet.  This truly involving many persons including grooms, husbands (even some who come equipped with mountain bikes to ride the 40km loop!) or wives as part of the entourage. Conversations vary from farming matters to horsey talk. Support and encouragement are freely passed between competitors as well as spectators.

Jen Millman with her dog Chief

Kirsty Masterson's horse being checked by the vet

Joy Webster waiting with Domino for the vet

Emma Jane Platt exhausted after the 3rd loop

Dr Hageman checking the gums



PSV Quatro last horse in with Francois Seegers

Many a competitor who has ridden this endurance ride at Newstead in the years before has gone on to compete in the famous Fauresmith Endurance ride, which is a far tougher race over a much longer distance. However, all riders and spectators who have been part of the Newstead ride always leave with a positive view of the world in which we live.


Laura Seegers of Perseverance Endurance Stables is an Elite Rider who has completed more than 10 FEI 160km rides which allows her to compete in any world event without having to qualify for it.  Certainly a remarkable achievement considering she often rides her horses bitless and barefoot.

PSV Mauser a world champ himself

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