FROM THE PADDOCK TO THE FIELD: Stuart Lymbery gives an insight into the world of endurance riding | Photos, Video

THE Riverina is home to some of the finest agricultural producers in Australia. It is also a region that is renowned for sporting success stories.

It is not unusual for an individual to juggle the commitments of working in a family farming business or the rural sector and then backing it up with several sessions of strenuous training a week to meet their sporting goals. This week The Rural talks to Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre operations manager Stuart Lymbery who is also a successful endurance rider and horse breeder based at his Big Springs property “Garone Park.”

STUART Lymbery loves nothing more than a big challenge.

For him that might mean completing the toughest endurance ride known as the Shahzada in St Albans. 

The Shahzada stretches some 400 kilometres and is considered one of the most gruelling and challenging events in the sport.

It is an opportunity for horse and rider to be matched against tough terrain big distances and it is the ultimate test of fitness and soundness.

Mr Lymbery has successfully completed this event 11 times. And his gelding Garonne Park Walker has also earned the coveted title of best managed horse.

He has also completed the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, which covers 100 miles (160.9km), five times. 

Major events and the sport of endurance riding has taken him from South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and NSW.

Apart from the success and challenges Mr Lymbery said endurance riding was an ideal family sport.

His wife Anne and daughter Sarah are a big part of the teamwork. The pair are successful competitors and help to work the horses as well as strap at the various events.

To keep the team of horses fit each one covers a distance of about 120 kilometres a week.

The region around Big Springs provides an ideal training ground but trips to the Snowy Mountains are a favourite for Mr Lymbery.

This give him a chance to take in the scenery and also work the horses on the varying terrain and often in regions at altitude. 

Despite the hard work put in by the horse Mr Lymbery said the rider needed to be fit too. “You have to be as fit, or fitter than your horse,” he said.

For example if a Tom Quilty covered five legs, or sections, it was often necessary for the rider to walk or jog for up to five or 10 kilometres of each leg. 

He said exercise was incorporated into the rides the horses went on. He would often jog along side to give the horse a rest.

Unlike human endurance events soundness was extremely important in determine the ultimate winner. A horse might cross the line first in an event but then later be vetted out due to soundness or a heart rate that was deemed too high.

Mr Lymbery said the challenges of horse husbandry, including everything from shoeing to feeding and hydration were something he had a keen interest in.

These factors also made the difference between success and failure in the event.  

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