By Michelle Slater
A Glengarry horsewoman and her mare have taken on one of the ultimate fitness tests by winning a 100 mile endurance ride near Ballarat last month.
Tabitha Schmetzer won the 160 kilometre event at Mia Mia in nearly 13 hours on her home-bred 10 year-old Arabian-cross-Standardbred Eaglehawk Halima Bea.
“My mare is an adrenaline junky, she loves it. It was quite a hilly ride, more hilly than we were expecting. It was such a long distance and we took it slow,” Ms Schmetzer said.
“Heading into the last leg, she picked up like she hadn’t done anything. She did an amazing job. She has this amazing Standardbred trot and such a big stride, she stretches out with a long leg.”
Ms Schmetzer comes from an endurance riding family, with her mum, dad and three siblings taking part in the sport together.
She entered her first endurance ride in 2008 in a 40 kilometre event in Rosedale, qualifying her to ride in an 80km event the following day on a different horse.
The seasoned rider had since gone on to complete six 160 km rides, including winning the 2018 Victorian State Championships and coming second the following year.
“Everyone in my family is involved, we are all looking out for each other if we get stuck, you need to work as a team,” Ms Schmetzer said.
“We all train and know our horses and know how to manage them.”
Endurance riding is vigorously supervised by a team of vets who scrutinise the horse at checkpoints along the way.
The horse is immediately eliminated if it fails a vet check.
Ms Schmetzer said she trains about 30 kilometres a week through the Toongabbie hills, clocking up about 10 kilometres in each training session working on conditioning and cardio.
She said her mount got a clean bill of health at the final vet check, qualifying the pair for the national championships, the coveted 100 mile Tom Quilty.
Ms Schmetzer said she will aim to ride in next year’s Tom Quilty in Bunyip, and will have a crack at the course in the state championships later this year.
“The vets said she looked great, her trot was clean and she ate and drank well. There’s no flogging them as horse welfare is second-to-none,” she said.
“My mare never stops, she always gives 110 per cent. I think she loves me as she nickers to me at the paddock. You spend ridiculous amounts of time together with your horse.
“Every ride I do on her, I love it. She is a fantastic little girl.”