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National Capital Ride Review
29 October 2006

The extreme weather conditions being felt in the ACT and much of NSW forced the ACT Endurance Riders Association to re-think their plans to hold the annual Brookvale ride in the foothills of the Brindabellas.

With very little water available at Brookvale and a potential fire hazard, but less than three weeks before the ride date of 29 October, a courageous decision was made to relocate the ride base to Equestrian Park in Curtin, the same venue used for the Bush Capital ride in February.

ACTERA member, Roz Edmunds, did a fantastic job in arranging the base and scouting a new first leg on her push bike (fortunately, she is a champion cyclist, too), and the ride was able to go ahead.

We were very pleased that so many riders made the effort worthwhile by attending – a total of 109, with 69 in the main ride.

It was the first day of daylight saving and the early start was in very crisp conditions. Unfortunately, there were a few incidents just after the start – one horse threw its rider and then created havoc for others as it careered around, eventually taking off the saddle and bridle as well. The main casualty was Roz Edmunds, who was thrown and taken to hospital with concussion and sadly did not get to ride the course she had chosen.

After the start, however, the ride went very smoothly. The new first leg followed the National Bicentennial Trail south around the edge of Canberra suburbs, taking riders past numerous horse paddocks and then on tracks around Mt Taylor and back to Equestrian Park, showing off the national capital. The second leg followed the Bicentennial Trail north, with more challenges in terms of tunnels and sets of cavaletti, which most horses handled very well. Only one horse had to be withdrawn because it refused the cavaletti and one horse (ironically, a local) tried to jump all the cavaletti.

Two lightweight riders set the pace from the start. Mary Hollingsworth on Dante was first across the line and 1st LWT in 4h 10m – a fast time given all the obstacles – closely followed by Sue McLaughlin on Cudglebar Tarquin in 4h 16m. First middleweight was Kristie McGaffin on Brookman Park Pagan in 4h 20m, seconds ahead of Melissa O'Brien on Haytchbee Petique. First heavyweight, Alan Caslick, and first junior, Hannah Norman, were a few minutes further behind.

Best conditioned were Alan Caslick (Cheeta) HWT, Roy Counsell (Kintamani Ragindi) MWT, Sue McLaughlin (Tarquin) LWT, and Hannah Norman (Valinor Park Opal) JUN.

All of the winning riders received wonderful prizes of endurance gear donated by the ride's major sponsor, Saddleworld Canberra. Thank you, Saddleworld! The first local rider across the line was Ray Spence on Toothdale Dancer, who was second HWT in 4h 33m and had donated one of the prizes himself.

The Bruce Neal Trophy encouragement award for a local junior went to Talea Hasko-Stewart on Blake's Heaven Ventura, who was 2nd junior. The perpetual trophy was donated by Bob and Jan Neal of Wybaleena Lodge, formerly located near Canberra. Read more about the trophy. Talea's horse was barefoot (not shod or booted) for the entire ride and she was very pleased to win the award.