SERC Lothians

To Complete is to Win

Welcome to the SERC Lothians.  If you are new to endurance riding, the best place to start is to go to a Taster or Pleasure ride.

These are organised by local branches all over the country. Pleasure/Training rides are from 15 - 30km.  Tasters are between 8 & 15km.  You need to enter in advance (at least a 2 weeks), and you will be sent a map and your start time.  When you arrive on the day, find Admin, let them know you have arrived, sort out any paperwork they need from you and pick your number bib up. 

You will need take your horse to the vet or competent person to trot up and possibly have its heartrate taken before tacking up to start.  

Then off you go!   If you don't want to ride alone, you can inform the Ride Secretary before the day and they may be able to help you find a buddy.  If you haven't done this beforehand, the Admin crew may be able to help you find one.  If tagging along with someone you meet on a ride, always ask first, as their horse might not like the company.

Although we do our best to mark the routes on the ground, it is always wise to follow your map as well and take care to note how long you will be allowed. 

Within 30 minutes of finishing your ride, take your horse back to be trotted up and checked again.  If you are in any doubt about what to do, there's always someone willing to help out or impart knowledge, so please don't be too shy to ask for advice - particularly at your first ride.    

You don't need to be a member of SERC to do pleasure rides, but members entry fees are cheaper, so if you plan to do more than one or two a year, it makes sense to join.  For more information about the rides SERC run and how to join see their website:


SPEED CATEGORIES! (A wee reminder)

Please take a look at the speed categories and their parameters before you start your ride as this will save a lot of hassle when you cross the finish line!  

Pleasure ride - 8kph—10.99kph
Training ride - 9kph and above 
(check Rule Book for specifications)
SC3 - 9.5kph—10.99kph
SC2  - 11kph—12.99kph
SC1 13kph and above

When you set your watch with the starter’s make sure your second hand is matching the starters.  When it gets down to the nitty gritty, one minute can make ALL the difference!  The starter’s clock is final.  Your own watch is for your reference only, not SERCs.


Formula to work out times

60 / speed x kilometres = time in minutes



Top Tips 


Electrolytes - Dave Marlin of the Animal Health Trust advocates salts in the ratio of 2:1 ordinary salt:low-sodium salt, to be given on hot days at a dosage of 50g per 10 miles ridden. Apparently he has just developed an electrolyte paste that will be the best on the market the website address is The main things are - it has high electrolyte content, is palatable (mint flavour), comes out of the tube easily and is sticky so this reduces the amount that falls out of the mouth.

Jaffa Cakes - Apparently Jaffa Cakes contain all the right ingredients needs for athletes to get their bodies back to normal after strenuous exercise.  These are best served with milk shakes and Lucozade for Complex carbohydrates to help you recover!!!


Info Crewing

The art of crewing is to know your horse and plan your ride, making allowances for the unexpected!! Crewing actually begins before the horse leaves the start line. Everything from the early morning feed to checking the tack and supplies. Once the rider is underway we have a final re-check of our crewing equipment for the course. Crewing points are planned in advance, however, the actual amount of crewing required will depend on numerous factors such as the distance of the ride, the weather, terrain and how the horse is going on the day. Once back at the vet gate each crew-member has their own role and know exactly what to do and what is expected of them. This saves vital time and none of us hinder the other in their task.

Cold Water Cooling  by Dr David Marlin, Animal Health Trust

Cold water cooling is a method which, if it is applied correctly, can cool down hot horses rapidly after competing, speeding recovery and reducing the chances of heat stress.

Horses that are hot (above 40 degrees C or 104 degress F) and competing in hot environments (above 26 degrees C or 80 degress F) and are cooled quickly during or after competition are less likely to suffer heat stress, will recover more quickly, will not become as dehydrated and are almost certain to perform better. There is no evidence that this technique causes any muscle problems such as 'tying up'.


Any horse at any competition or show at any level in any country can suffer from heat stress - this includes event horses, dressage horses, show jumpers, racehorses, polo ponies, endurance horses, driving horses, and horses or ponies in gymkhanas.


The cold water cooling technique cools horses using two of the three ways they normally lose heat - convection and evaporation. You need the following equipment:


1. Large buckets to hold 40-50 litre of water and large blocks of ice

2. Supply of more water close by - hose or tanks

3. Small buckets (5-10 litre) - supplement tubs are ideal!

4. Assistants - 3 is ideal - one to hold the horse and one person to cool each side

5. A shady spot to carry out the cooling


Start to cool the horse immediately it finishes exercising while taking the rectal temperature. Liberally apply cold water to all parts of the body including the quarters (this is where most of the large muscles used for movement are located and so is an area that gets particulalry hot)


Do not scrape off excess water after each application, it is more important to continue to apply cold water. Carry on cooling the horse, alternating 20-30 second cooling periods with 20-30 second walks in a circle. The walking and cooling sequence is important. The walking promotes blood flow to the skin and cooling by convection; the movement of air aids cooling by evaporation.


Check the horse's rectal temperature at intervals. The temperature should fall by around 1 degree C in 10 minutes. Allow your horse to drink small amounts of water (half a bucket) during competition (e.g. during the 10 minute box in 3-Day Eventing), between rounds (e.g. Showjumping) during long warm-up periods (e.g. Dressage) and immediately after exercise - it will help to cool the horse down and reduce the effects of dehydration.


Stop cooling if the rectal temperature is less than 38-39 degrees C, the skin over the quarters is cool to rouch after a walking period, if the respiratory rate is less than 30 breaths per minute and if the horse shivers continuously.


Don't forget that the rider can also suffer from heat stress. To cool the rider, remove their hat, sit them in the shade, wash their face with cold water (which makes you feel better but is not very effective at reducing body temperature) and encourage them to drink an isotonic drink such as Locozade Sport or Isostar (isotonic means the same concentration as body fluids). The rider should also wear light coloured (preferably white) loose fitting cotton clothing. In addition, the hat hould be lightweight and a comfortable fit.


Do not put ice in the horse's rectum as it can hide a high temperature - preventing the horse receiving appropriate cooling and other potentially life-saving trreatments.

Don't hold small bags of ice against the skin on the head, neck, quarters or anywhere else - this reduces cooling by stopping skin blood flow to the area under the pack. Instead, concentrate on cooling as much of the body surface as possible with cold water.


Do not place wet towels on the horse. Although at first the towel may be wet and cool, it soon warms and acts as insulation, preventing the loss of heat.

Excessive application of grease prior to cross country limits sweating. The grease acts as insulation, prevents sweating and limits sweat evaporation.

Do not let horses stand still for long periods.

Do not prevent the horse from drinking small amounts of water during competition. Water should be left in the stable until 15-20 minutes before exercvise. Water is emptied very rapidly from the stomach.

Do not give the horse ice cold water to drink.

Do give some hard feed and hay up to 4 hours before exercise.

Muscles work more effectively when they are warm, so horses should be warmed up before exercise, and a moderate increase in body temperature will do no harm.

Remember that when the weather is hot the horse will warm up faster.


(Thanks and acknowledgement to the Animal Health Trust)