Over the Fence: A Young Endurance Champ

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Young RiderThe Kentucky Derby is an exciting two minutes, but what about a race that lasts 100 miles and a teenage girl and her humble horse win it all, finishing in less than 14 hours?

Over the winter, I had a great chat with Bryna Stevenson, a teenaged endurance champ who won the Old Dominion Endurance Ride (they don’t call it a race) which winds up and down the Blue Ridge Mountains in my beloved home state of Virginia.

An edited version of our chat about her love of endurance riding, her horses, and how she managed to win the Old Dominion despite having to ride in the dark, alone with her horse on a rocky mountainside is spread out over a couple of glossy pages in the current issue of Young Rider magazine (May/June 2015).

Bryna got into endurance riding thanks to her parents – her dad, a bicyclist – encouraged her to go for high-level competition. Her mom shared her love of horses and got Bryna started riding as a little girl. She and her mom started endurance riding together when Bryna was eight.

In the 2014 race last summer, Bryna became the youngest winner in the competition’s history. Her mount, Whisperstream’s Atropine (aka Maddy) even won two awards during the event for best condition.

During the race, she pretty much let Maddy pick her pace, “but when there was good footing, we trotted or cantered to make time. You have to be careful. If there is a bad spot, you could get into trouble. We also did lots of walking, so it all evened out. Maddy did well because of her positive attitude. The more fun a horse has, the harder they try.”

Bryna created the video above to help get more eventers and steeplechasers interested and involved in endurance. For more information about endurance riding, visit www.aerc.org.

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