Bishop Burton student Amber Sole completes 60km endurance ride on horseback
A STUDENT at Bishop Burton College has completed a 60km endurance ride on horseback through the rolling plains of Assam in India.
Amber Sole, 17, an experienced endurance rider, carried out the feat earlier this month on a borrowed horse in the region of Dibrugarh.
The ride was set into three 20km loops around a tea plantation.
Amber was loaned an Indian thoroughbred called Aurum for the competition.
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She said: "When setting off, I felt slightly nervous and apprehensive as I was riding a different horse to one of my own that I am used to.
"The terrain was flatter than I expected and very dusty.
"The route was well marked out and was set out with flags and many checkpoints, which was reassuring."
There was a vetting between each loop to check the horse's condition.
Amber and Aurum passed between the first and second loops without a hitch.
She said: "After my vetting, I had a 30-minute compulsory hold before I could set off again.
"The second loop went well and I made up time with my speed increasing from 15km per hour average on the first loop to 16.5km per hour on the second one".
All was going well for Amber and Aurum.
But trouble struck on the final loop, just 2km from the finishing line.
Amber said: "I wondered if Aurum had become lame on his left fore so I slowed down as I didn't want to hurt him.
"As I came over the finish line, I got off and he seemed a bit sore.
"The vets confirmed this and Aurum failed the final vetting so we were eliminated, which was a shame."
Although Amber lost out in the individual round, she came first in a team event.
Because she was grouped with riders from Switzerland and South Africa, who completed with very fast times, Amber's team secured first place.
She said: "I really enjoyed the ride as it was something different.
"My favourite part had to be meeting all the people from the other countries and working as part of a team.
"Everyone was very approachable and welcoming – I've made many new friends."
Amber is aiming for a place on the British under-21 Young Riders team in 2014.
She did not get the result she hoped for this time.
But it has not put her off endurance riding abroad.
Amber said: "If given the chance, I would love to do it again, as it was a really good experience and allowed me to see part of the world at the same time as I have never really travelled before."
She was invited to get involved in the International Endurance Championship by the Equestrian Federation of Assam.
Amber was eligible to take part because she is a member of Endurance GB, the UK's governing body for long- distance riding.