Southern Highlands Endurance Ride Inc were thrilled to have attracted a record 228 entries in events at the 5th annual Wingello Forest Endurance Ride.

Following from the Newcomers Workshop held at Wingello in January, the event was dedicated to helping newcomers have a start, and included ride distances of 5km, 10km, 20km, 40km, 60km and 80km.

The weather co-operated brilliantly, producing a bright clear sunny Autumn weekend, with no clouds and no wind, complemented by a perfect Saturday evening with a massive full silver moon rising high in the sky at dusk.

Where else would you want to be but camped in the country with your horse, perhaps your dog, and surrounded by family and friends.  There was live entertainment around the big central campfire by Bowral local Dave Newman, who rocked out a whole lot of 50s and 60s rock classics, and shared his mike with some of the other songbirds present.

The trails at Wingello are superb, and had been softened and freshened by rain in the week before the ride.  There were 78 entrants in the shorter distance introductory rides held on the Saturday, many of whom were starting in their first ever endurance ride.  Some youngsters were led around the 5km ride (one of the 80km horses did this as a warm up for the main event on Sunday), and there were a few fit joggers accompanying their beginner rider friends around the 10km ride.

The ‘Wingello Forest Fairies’ in their bright vests wandered the campsite to make themselves available to help newcomers to the sport who were facing their first ever attempt to strap and present for vetting.

The longer distance rides were held on Sunday, with 60 starters in the 40/60km ride, and 90 starters in the 80km ride.  Completion rates were high, with 83% of horses in the 80km ride successfully passing the heart rate check and vet inspection at the end of the ride.

The winners were:
Equal 1st Junior – Shantel Nagle riding Windradyne Ballerina & Georgia Curry riding Macquarie Park Shafeeq, riding time 4hrs 31mins
1st Lightweight – Lauren Howson riding Candynae, riding time 4hrs 27mins
1st Middleweight – Anika Basiak riding Flametree Samirah, riding time 4hrs 27mins
1st Heavyweight – Heidi Wade riding Yinbilliko Jackson, riding time 4hrs 59mins