Distance Riding

Comp_Distance_ImageDistance riding is a great sport for all ages and skill levels. It tests a horse's condition and stamina, rider intelligence and horsemanship under veterinary supervision on a cross-country trail. Most competitors own and train their own horses. Discipline, dedication and a sense of adventure are the most important ingredients for success. Competitive Trail and Endurance are the two most popular distance sports and Arabians excel at both. Other distance events include Ride & Tie competitions and Mounted Orienteering. 

The endurance competitor's motto, "To Finish Is To Win," applies to all types of distance events. Distance riding may be highly competitive and challenging or a recreational activity combining a camping trip with an extended trail ride.









Behind the Scenes of Distance Nationals


Distance Sports Overview

Endurance and Limited Distance Riding



  • Is governed by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC).
  • Endurance rides vary in distance between 50 and 100 miles in a single day. For 50 Mile Rides, Horse & Rider have 12 hours to complete the ride and for 100 Mile Rides, Horse & Ride have 24 hours to complete the ride.
  • The horse with the fastest time is the winner providing the horse meets the 'fit to continue' criteria as determined by a veterinary judge.
  • Horses are monitored by veterinarians throughout the ride at predetermined Vet Checks.
  • Horses are withdrawn from the ride if judged to be unsound or metabolically unfit.
  • Rides have mandatory rests or 'holds' for the horses throughout the ride.
  • Rides longer than 100 miles are completed over several days with the horses typically covering 50 miles per day.
  • One of the most famous of all endurance rides is the Tevis Cup. During a 100-mile, 24 hour endurance ride, Tevis Cup participants race through the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In 2021, the top 20 participants rode Arabians.


Limited Distance

  • Is governed by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC).
  • Rides are used as introductory rides to Endurance Rides.
  • Limited Distance Rides vary in distance between 20 and 30 miles in a single day. Rider & Horse have 6 hours to complete the ride.
  • The horse with the fastest time is the winner providing the horse meets the 'fit to continue' criteria as determined by a veterinary judge.
  • Horses are monitored by veterinarians throughout the ride at predetermined Vet Checks.
  • Horses are withdrawn from the ride if judged to be unsound or metabolically unfit.
  • Rides have mandatory rests or 'holds' for the horses throughout the ride.



Competitive Trail Riding

  • Competitive Trail Rides are sanctioned by several different groups in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Horses are evaluated before the ride by the ride veterinarian on soundness, physical condition and way of going.
  • In some organizations, riders may also be judged on horsemanship as it applies to trail riding and horses may be judged on trail ability.
  • Trail courtesy, safety and manners are key elements along with the ability to care for a horse during and after a long day on the trail.
  • Speed is not the primary objective, rather strategy is the key as a minimum and maximum time will be given to cover a set distance.
  • Veterinary monitoring is maintained throughout the ride and checkpoints must be passed where horses must meet pulse and/or respiration criteria.
  • Points are deducted for any changes that occur in way of going, pulse, lameness, injuries, time violations, etc.
  • Rides can be 1-3 days in length, averaging 20-40 miles per day, at 4-7 mph depending on the sanctioning organization. Many offer novice or introductory rides of 12-15 miles to get you started.



Ride & Tie

  • Two riders with one horse travel on a pre-marked trail in a running and riding pattern.
  • Horse must pass a metabolic and physical standard at veterinary checks during and within one hour of finishing the trail.
  • Distances range from 10 to 40 miles in one day.
  • No minimum time restrictions, but a maximum time limit is set by management. Contact the Ride & Tie Association for additional information.



Mounted Orienteering

  • This is a timed event.
  • The object is to find 5-10 markers using the provided map and a compass.
  • Riders compete either individually or in teams of 2-6, riding at their own pace.
  • Instructions and a practice marker are provided before the ride.
  • Rides are sanctioned by NACMO (Nat'l. Assoc. for Competitive Mounted Orienteering), which provides regular newsletters & year-end awards in several categories at the state and national level. Cumulative records of points earned are kept on both horse & rider.



Distance Rides

AHA Local and Regional Rides

Local rides are sponsored by individual ride organizations and clubs. Local rides follow the rules set by AERC, a recognized Competitive Trail organization or AHA. AHA members can earn points, mileage and qualifications for AHA programs and events from local rides. See the Event Calendar for a list of recognized rides in your area.


Both Local & Regional rides sanctioned with AHA have the following benefits:


  • Receive greatly discounted event insurance through Equisure
  • Get listed on the AHA website calendar of events
  • Automatically record results for Arabians and Half-Arabians in the AHA event database to count toward programs and qualifications
  • Receive the free AHA Ride Management Guidelines with tips, checklists, timelines and all the forms
  • Receive free AHA score cards, pulse check cards and other helpful tools
  • A cost of $25 per local recognized ride distance and $30 for Regional rides, simply mail the application to AHA at least 60 days prior to the competitive trail or endurance ride.




Many AHA regions host Regional Championships for both Endurance and Competitive Trail. Regional Rides are beneficiaries of the Arabian Breeders Sweepstakes program, which pays prize money to any Breeders Sweepstakes enrolled horse that makes the Top Five at a Regional..


Regional Championship entry requirements are:


  • Horse must be a registered Arabian, Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian.
  • Rider and owner must be current AHA competition level members ($25 base membership does not make you eligible).
  • Horses must qualify by having completed a certain number of miles:






Regional CTR



AHA Recognized CTR or recognized Open Organization Rides

Complete 50 miles total consisting of:

  • Ride distance must be at least 25 miles
  • At least 25miles must be from a CTR
  • 25 miles can be from an AERC endurance ride

Regional Endurance



AHA, AERC, FEI endurance rides (no limited distance)

50 miles may be from a Regional or National AHA CTR






Distance Programs

  • AHA offers different Award/ Recognition Programs for Distance Riders including but not limited to the Distance Horse Award Program, Distance Horse of the Year, 50-99 and 100 Mile Endurance Awards, Frequent Rider Program and the Achievement Awards Program.



Ride your way to great rewards with these AHA Distance Ride Programs.


Fee Summary

  • Distance Awards Program/horse - $50
  • Distance Awards Renewal/horse/year - $40
  • Back mileage fee/year - $100


Distance Horse Awards


  • A program for your horse!
  • Recognition for completed miles in endurance and competitive trail
  • Perpetual plaque awarded at 500 miles
  • Mileage markers at each additional 500 miles completed
  • $50 initial enrollment and $40 annual renewal fee
  • Purchase back mileage for $100 per year
  • Sign up online or find out more by clicking here


Competitive Distance Program


  • A program for riders!
  • Recognition and prizes for riders who compete in: Endurance, Competitive Trail and/or Ride and Tie
  • Ability to compete on multiple horses
  • Multi-level prize and award system
  • Totally FREE online program for members. Sign up and track miles by logging into the Members Only area and choosing "My Account"
  • Sign up online or find out more by clicking here


Frequent Rider Program


  • Record your non-competitive training hours and earn rewards just for riding your horse
  • Multiple horses allowed
  • Ranch work, parades, lessons, training under saddle or just riding or driving for pleasure count.
  • This is an online program for members. New participants are required to pay a $25 one-time fee to enroll. Sign up in the Members Only area and track your hours now.
  • Sign up online or find out more by clicking here


Competitive Trail High Point Program Awards


  • Year-end program held in cooperation with recognized competitive trail organizations
  • AHA provides nice blanket or cooler awards to high point horses selected by participating organizations
  • Winners must meet the following criteria: (1) ride a registered Arabian, Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian; (2) be current AHA members; and (3) compete in at least five rides sponsored by that organization
  • Click here for the CTR High-Point Award Application Form


Endurance High Point Program Awards


  • AERC high-point horses in the 100-mile and Middle Distance (50-99 mile) categories receive a nice product award at the Annual AERC Convention. Because AERC does not track points specifically in the 50-99 mile category, individuals interested in that award category must submit an AHA Endurance Horse High-Point Middle Distance Award Application Form and send it to AHA by December 31.
  • Click here for previous high-point winners

Distance Horse of the Year Award


  • Recognizes significant accomplishments of a registered Arabian, Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian in distance sports
  • Nomination deadline is November 1st of each calendar year
  • Click here for the Distance Horse of the Year Award Nomination Form


Horse Achievement Awards


  • Distance horses may earn Achievement Award points too
  • Sign up on line or find out more by clicking here.


Amateur Achievement Awards


  • Amateur riders receive awards based on points they accumulate
  • Multiple horses (ownership not required) all count in accumulation
  • Modeled after the Horse Achievement Awards program
  • Enroll online in the Members Only area or click here to learn more about this program


Breeders Sweepstakes


  • Breeders Sweepstakes is a comprehensive payback and breeders incentive program
  • Prize money payouts are for enrolled horses at AHA recognized rides
  • Find out more about the Arabian Breeders Sweepstakes Program

Distance Resources

Related Organizations

  • American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC)


Rides: Endurance and Limited Distance Rides


  • Arabian Horse Distance Riding Association (AHDRA)



  • Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association (ECTRA)


Rides: Competitive Trail, Endurance and Competitive Driving.

  • Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)


Rides: International Endurance Rides

  • Great Lakes Distance Riding Association (GLDRA)


Rides: Competitive Trail & Endurance

  • Middle of the Trail Distance Riding Association (MOTDRA)


Rides: Competitive Trail and Endurance

  • National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering (NACMO)


Rides: Mounted Orienteering

  • North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC)


Rides: Competitive Trail Rides

  • Ohio Arabian and All-Breed Trail Society (OAATS)


Rides: Endurance and Competitive Trail

  • Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association (OCTRA)


Rides: Competitive Trail, Endurance and Ride and Tie

  • Ride & Tie Association


Rides: Ride and tie

  • Southeastern Distance Riders Association (SEDRA)


Rides: competitive trail, endurance and ride and tie.

  • Trail Riding Alberta Conference (TRAC)


Rides: Competitive Trail Rides

  • Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Riders Association (UMECRA)


Rides: competitive trail, endurance and competitive driving




Ride Management Info