On July 10, Laurel Pollock of Craig County tied for first place in the AERC endurance ride at Broxton Bridge Plantation in Ehrhardt, South Carolina.
Laurel is a dean’s list student studying equine science and sociology at Emory and Henry College. This summer she has been working two jobs in the agricultural field and training for her first 25-mile American Endurance Ride Conference event. She and good friend Mikayla Nunn trailered their horses to the “Moonlight Madness” competition. The riders took off at 7:30 p.m., riding through the night hours on separate courses. Laurel crossed her 25-mile finish line on her Arabian, R-Kons Able, with fellow competitor Brooks Prater at 1 a.m. It is not unusual for riders to team up on the trail and finish together, sharing the top honors. Mikayla and her racking horse, Denver, crossed the 50-mile finish line at 6 a.m.
Horseback riding is one sport that lends itself well to social distancing. Nevertheless, COVID-related guidelines were implemented for the competition, such as temperature checks, face coverings (except when on horseback), no group meals and no prize ceremony.
There is a saying in the AERC community: “To finish is to win.” In the sport of endurance riding, there are veterinary checks along the way to ensure that each horse is fit to continue, and some are disqualified if suffering from heat, dehydration or other soundness problems. With good training, management, and some good luck, most horses may continue after a required rest period. However, the total mileage must still be completed within a certain time frame to finish.