FROM October 1-3, the South West town of Collie, 200 kilometres from Perth, will play host to the Tom Quilty National Endurance Championship.
WA has had the honour of hosting the 100 mile (160 kilometre) ride on four previous occasions - Mornington Mills in 1989, Toodyay in 1995, Tumbulgum Farm in 2001 and 2007 and Wagin in 2014.
This time around, the WA Endurance Riders Association (WAERA) will co-host the event with the historic and scenic Shire of Collie, which has also kindly offered the support of its community-based volunteer groups.
WAERA feels that the event has a special affinity with WA as Tom Quilty, who the event is named in honour of, lived a great part of his life in the State.
Mr Quilty lived on Springvale Station in the North West and was an outstanding cattleman and an authority on northern Australia.
He was respected both as a horseman and bushman and for him long hard rides on horseback were part of everyday life.
He recalled that 100 mile rides to post a letter or send a telegram were not uncommon before the days of the telephone or motor car.
To this day Tom Quilty still holds the record for ownership of the largest freehold land acreage in Australia's history, this being more than 1.24 million hectares (3m acres) for a single property.
In total he controlled 1.82mha of land.
RM Williams, the then editor of 'Hoofs and Horns' magazine and the maker of high quality hard wearing footwear, was a good friend of Mr Quilty's.
The first Quilty came about from the inspiration of RM Williams' wife, Erica when she read about an article on 'Conditioning the Endurance Horse' in an American magazine.
The author had ridden in the Tevis Cup and two weeks later successfully rode in another 100 miles event on the same horse.
It was thought that if the Americans could ride 100 miles then so could Australians.
An invitation was issued through 'Hoofs and Horns' for people interested in being involved in the ride and an organising committee was formed, with the Hawkesbury district near Sydney, New South Wales, designated as the ideal location.
In October 1966 at 1.14am from a paddock adjoining the Hawkesbury Racecourse, the first 100 mile ride in Australia was conducted.
On July 17-18 this year, the WA State Championship ride was held - this was another stepping stone for those riders trying to qualify for the Quilty by completing a 160km ride.
The Wheatbelt Endurance Riders (WERI) enthusiastically took to the task of running the State ride when the intended ride at Highbury was cancelled due to a COVID-19 lockdown.
It meant last minute changes were made to the course to accommodate the 160km ride which was no trouble for the ride organisers.
It was a new ride on the calendar and conducted as an elevator to enable potential Quilty qualifying riders to test their horses for the longer distance but still having the opportunity to withdraw.
The ride was held at Hoddy Well in the Toodyay Shire on 5058ha owned and leased by Darren Best.
For someone who was known to say he would never have a horse on his property he certainly had a change of heart when a total of 87 riders descended for a very successful weekend.
The track circumnavigated his extensive spread on very wide firebreaks providing magnificent views of the rich green wheat and flowering canola crops.
Due to the 127 millimetres of rain leading up to the event, the track was arduous and challenging - it was slippery, boggy and very slow going in places, with horses losing numerous boots and shoes along the way.
It was also very undulating with a total of 2000 metres elevation covered in the 160km event.
Testimony to the difficult conditions resulted in two completions, two vet outs and two retiring riders from six starters.
Line honours went to Linda Yates riding 'Amakhaya Kalahari' (West Coast Dayan x Amakhaya Sahara) owned by Christopher Haddon.
This was Ms Yates' second ride on Kalahari, having only completed a 12km training ride last year.
Kalahari is an eight-year-old Arabian who was competing in his 19th ride for a total of 723km in his endurance career and together their ride time was just over 17 hours.
The first Lightweight completion went to Ruth Morley riding 'Living on Love' (Inamorato x Village Jasper USA) in a time of 17.5 hours.
This 15-year-old 14.2 hand standardbred belonging to Ms Morley's sister was bought for $200 and has certainly doubled his value.
Ms Morley said she tried him in the 160km ride to see if he could do it.
"He looked fantastic at the best conditioned workout held the following morning," Ms Morley said.
To those riders and horses who weren't successful this time around it's not without saying their efforts and the ability to get a mount to qualify for 160km is no easy task.
They too deserve applause and we are sure they will return stronger and more determined.
This is what we learn to expect from the sport of endurance riding - whether you see it as 160km or 100m, it's a test of endurance and horsemanship.
Many horses have been specifically bred with this event as the goal and many riders have been preparing, both, mind and body, alongside their mounts over many seasons in anticipation for when the 100 mile ride comes around.
Most importantly, the philosophy 'to complete is to win' should always be at the forefront of any competitor's minds.
This itself, will ensure horse and rider will have years to come of successful rides in peak condition.
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