Giraffes in view as the Boudheib Endurance rules get a run in South Africa

Action from the South African leg of an international series of Endurance race run under Boudheib rules.
Action from the South African leg of an international series of Endurance races run under Boudheib rules.

The innovative Boudheib rules in Endurance were employed in South Africa last weekend, in the first in a series of international events, with a completion rate across all divisions of nearly 80 percent.

The rules applied at the Boudheib endurance facility in Abu Dhabi, owned by Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, have created an oasis in troubled UAE Endurance. The “house” rules insisted on by the sheikh have all but eliminated the welfare issues that have plagued the sport in the region.

They are designed to keep speeds, which are GPS-monitored, down to 20kmh. Most prize-money goes to the best-conditioned horses, judged on the accumulation of scores from each vet gate.

South Africa played host last weekend to the first in the 2017 series of seven international Endurance events under Boudheib rules, with racing taking place in the Sondela Nature Reserve in the Limpopo Province.

The course was described as interesting and 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.

Of the 309 starters over the two days, the overall completion rate for all divisions combined was nearly 80%.

The completion rate in the South African event was nearly 80 percent.
The completion rate in the South African event was nearly 80 percent.

The total field comprised 229 horses for Saturday’s event and 80 riders for Sunday. Saturday’s main ride saw 117 competitive riders tackling the very technical course comprising three loops of 31km, 31km and 18km. The first two 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 third 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.

Six horses entered the 120km event with only 1 finisher, who also finished within the Best Endurance Challenge Award (BECA) protocol. Of the five failures to complete, three were rider’s choice and two were for gait.

The competitive 80km riders and 120km riders were all automatically included in the Boudhieb Protocol competition.  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 adhered to.  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.

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



120km: Sam Chepape 7088
Heavy weight: Nick Harper 8075
Lightweight: Yolandi van der Klashorst 10099
Standardweight: InnekeThirion 4296
Young Rider: Kayla Hairbottle 7905
Child: Janike Joubert 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

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