Endurance riding is an equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. There are endurance rides worldwide.
There are two main types of long-distance riding, competitive trail riding and endurance rides. In an endurance ride, discussed in this article, the winning horse is the first one to cross the finish line while stopping periodically to pass a veterinary check that deems the animal in good health and fit to continue. In the United States, most endurance rides are either 50 or 100 miles (160 km) long. Shorter rides, called Limited Distance Competition, are organized for new riders to the sport or young horses being trained. There are also a few longer, usually multi-day, rides run as well. As with human marathon running, many riders will participate to improve their horse's personal best performance and consider finishing the distance with a proper vet completion record to be a "win". In the USA, the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) sanctions endurance rides. In the UK, Endurance GB is the governing body. Winning riders complete 100-mile (160 km) rides in 10–12 hours.
Any breed can compete, but the Arabian generally dominates the top levels 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 a certain time, and veterinary checks, rider behavior and other elements play a role in the placings. (See Competitive trail riding.)
Worldwide, rules vary. Endurance rides and races can be any distance, though they are rarely over 160 km for a one-day competition.