More than 100 equestrians descended on Nelligen over the weekend for the annual Currowan Endurance Ride.
The ride included distances of 10, 20, 40 and 80 kilometres, and ran through the forest roads near Nelligen.
Con Bouzianis was the quickest in the 80-kilometre heavyweight division with a time of four hours and 37 minutes while keeping his horse’s heart-rate at an average of 40 beats per minute.
Ellen Vine finished first in the middleweight division, Fia Hasko-Stewart was fastest in the lightweight division, and Alison Noble won the junior division.
Ride organiser Jenny Shepheard said the event “ran smoothly”.
“Everyone was really happy, and loved the track,” she said. “We had a lot of comments about how good it was.”
Although the 80-kilometre ride was the main event, Ms Shepheard said the 10-kilometre ride was popular with people wanting to get a start in the sport.
“The first six kilometres are on roads that nobody else uses,” she said. “The riders get to enjoy it, and let their horses settle in before they end up near the river with other horses.
“It’s a good, safe track, and a good place for people to begin. You have a good range of ages from kids through to adults.”
The 80km ride started at 6am, which is a little later than usual according to head vet Darien Feary, who was working with the Moruya Veterinary Clinic.
“The horses get going at 6am, which is actually quite late for a long ride,” she said. “A lot of endurance rides start at four or five in the morning, and a lot of horses a riders favour that because they get a lot of the distance done before it gets too hot or windy.”
Ms Feary said there weren’t too many issues with the horses on the day, but said they could look tired at the end of the ride.
“They’re all looking pretty good today, no major dramas,” she said. “One horse did have to come off track because it was lame, but what we’re finding in endurance rides at the moment is because there’s been no rain, the usually soft dirt roads become like tar.
“We don’t like trotting horses along tarred roads because it’s bad for their joints and feet.
“At the end of 80 kilometres, we see quite a spectrum in the way the horses and riders look. There are hills on the course, and it’s mainly on open roads, which means it can be easy to go a bit too fast.”
The event was a nice boost for Nelligen in a traditionally quiet period.
“We pick Nelligen at this time of year because of the tracks,” Ms Shepheard said. “Nelligen is a popular tourist spot, especially along the river.
“It’s quieter in the winter, which means the riders are safer, and it also gives the town a little boost.”