South Africa’s Sondela Nature Reserve Holds Boudheib Initiative-based Endurance

Two days of Endurance with views of giraffe and kudu

2 June 2017, UK ~ The first in the 2017 series of 7 international Boudheib Initiative endurance events took place in South Africa last weekend, 26 – 28th May, on the beautiful Sondela Nature Reserve in the Limpopo Province.

The event, organised by the PwC Sondela Committee, did a fantastic job. The Vet Gate worked perfectly, and the facilities were superb. The course was interesting and very well marked. It was flat but technical alternating from dirt roads to deep sand in places.

Many of the competitors saw giraffe and kudu while riding through the veld and of course some of the horses were not always impressed but the riders loved it!

 Of the 309 starters over the two days, the overall completion rate for all divisions combined was nearly 80% which is absolutely fantastic especially given the technical trails, proving once again that the Boudheib Initiative is making its mark in its mission to put the ‘welfare of the endurance horse’ as primary importance.

The total field was 229 horses and riders on Saturday’s event and 80 on Sunday. Saturday’s main ride saw 117 competitive riders tackling the very technical course comprising 3 loops of 31km, 31km and 18km (80km). The first 2 loops varied from firm footing and grass jeep tracks to deep sand tracks. The sand tracks became even deeper on the second loop after 229 horses had waded through the sand on the first loop. The 3rd loop comprised easy going and firm footing but if the riders had not negotiated the second loop correctly the better going didn’t offer any respite on the final leg.

6 horses entered the 120km event with only 1 to finish who also finished within the BECA (Best Endurance Challenge Award) protocol. The 120km added a 40km first loop to the 31km,31km and 18km of the 80km competition. Of the 5 failures to complete, 3 were rider’s choice and 2 for gait.

The competitive 80km riders and 120km riders were all automatically included in the Boudhieb Protocol competition – a first at the PwC Endurance Event. All riders who exceeded the protocol restrictions were allowed to continue in the race as long as the national rules for pulse, metabolic and gait were followed. Riders were then only excluded from the BECA competition but continued in the national competition. The National South African regulations for pulse, metabolic and gait criteria are the same as FEI regulations. All competitive horses were voted at the final inspections by the line vet and a constant panel of 2 veterinarians were on hand to ascertain a gait scoring for the BECA protocol.

Main organiser, Susan Koekemoer, did a wonderful job in taking on the event and was delighted to say: “All in all the riders thoroughly enjoyed the event and have asked for the BECA award to be included in the 2018 event.A s organisers, Premier Equestrian Club are proud to have been given the opportunity by our national federation and the Boudheib Committee to implement the BECA protocol in South Africa. Thank you to His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for implementing the protocol in the sport of endurance and for keeping the horses welfare in the forefront of the sport.”

The winners of the Boudheib Best Endurance Challenge Award gave positive feedback on the goal of improving welfare and horsemanship by adhering to stricter standards. There was a cash prize, day sheets and numnas (saddle pad), and the two Junior winners received saddles as prizes.

The day following the competitive rides a 40k fun ride was held with a bush breakfast offered at a water point half way through. Many kids and families took advantage of this opportunity for a relaxed day’s riding in a beautiful setting.

117 COMPETITIVE RIDERS (120km and 80km)
46 FTQ
21 80km STARTERS
2 80km FTQ
9 non-competitive FTQ

Winners National

120km                      Sam Chepape 7088
Heavy weight           Nick Harper 8075
Lightweight              Yolandi van der Klashorst 10099
Standardweight        Inneke Thirion 4296
Young Rider             Kayla Hairbottle 7905
Child                        JanikeJoubert 7236


Lightweght               Lanel van Nieuwenhuizen 2432
Standardweight        Tommy van Niekerk  3760
Young Rider              Ralien de Beer 10186

Boudheib BECA winners

Heavy weight             Nick Harper 8075
Lightweght                Liezl Ferreira – mother and daughter- 6138
Standardweight         Frieda van Zyl 4763
Young Rider              Mille’ Ferreira  10319
Child                        Lente Schutte  8019

~ supplied report