Watagan Mountains Endurance Ride


Beginning Endurance


Welcome to the exciting and challenging world of endurance riding!

Whether you aim to participate a few times per year or become an international star, you need to start somewhere.

This guide is intended to give you some very basic first steps and some important information BEFORE you attend

your first endurance event.

We are very excited the Watagan Mountains Endurance Ride is returning to the Hunter.

Our ride base is at Quorrobolong NSW.

Host to the Quilty in 1997, our sports' National Championships, the Watagan Mountains Endurance Ride ran from the 1980’s up until 2007 and is a very strong part of endurance history within NSW.

Being a close and an easy drive from Sydney, riders of all ages and skill levels come and take on the challenge in our 20km, 40km, and 80km events.

Ready to start in the 32nd Tom Quilty 100 mile (160km) endurance ride, 1997 National Endurance Championship at Watagan Mountains in NSW,

Photo: Australian Horse Sports 1997, Julie Wilson

Winner Terry Wood and Peppersfield Nabucco in 10 hours 28 min.

Photo by Pat Slater, taken from the book "The Quilty Stories" by Erica Williams


Undaunted by the disappointments and setbacks of a brutal 2020, a small but dynamic team of dedicated endurance riding devotees is now well advanced with plans to reinvigorate the famed Watagan Endurance Ride in 2021.

Throughout the 1990s and well into the new century, the Watagan ride was consistently a favourite on the NSW Endurance Riding calendar, one of the most popular and well attended endurance rides anywhere in the State, or the nation for that matter.

In 1997, the Watagan club hosted the renowned Tom Quilty Gold Cup, won by Lake Macquarie local Terry Wood riding his Arabian horse Peppersfield Nabucco. The famed ‘Quilty’ is the national championship of Australian endurance riding, asking horse and rider to cover 160 km in one day and in 1997, drew a field of more than 250 riders from around Australia and overseas to the ride base at Cooranbong Showground.

While suburban encroachment and subsequent increases in population and traffic densities now make the Cooranbong Showground impractical as a base for an endurance riding event, a new and highly motivated ride committee has searched a little further afield to find a suitable ride base in the shadow of the Watagan Mountains.

With the support of generous landholders and sponsors, the new ride base is in Mill Lane, Quorrobolong, where two separate events will be held in 2021.

“We’re obviously not looking to replicate anything as ambitious or spectacular as the ’97 Tom Quilty, though sections of some rides will be on parts of the Quilty track,” says Watagan club president Cody Holloway.

“We are, however, most excited at the prospect of bringing endurance riding back to the Lower Hunter Valley and the Watagan area in particular.

“Like every other sport in 2020, endurance riding events were drastically impacted by the pandemic but that hasn’t stopped us from aspiring to make 2021 a much better year with events for experienced endurance riders, novices and newcomers alike,” Cody explains.

On the weekend of April 17 and 18, the club is planning a series of smaller rides on both Saturday and Sunday, offering distances of 13, 20 and 40 km on each of the two days.

The 13 and 20 km distances are ideal for newcomers to the sport or riders looking to educate younger horses to the conditions of endurance events. Meantime, the 40 km rides are effectively training rides perfect for horse and rider to progress to longer distances or to increase the fitness of horse and rider for upcoming endurance events of 80 km and more.

Then, building on the experience and knowledge gained from the April rides, the club will run a 40 km training ride and 80 km endurance ride on Sunday, August 8. There’s also the possibility of 13 km and 20 km rides on Saturday, August 7.

“We’re aiming to offer something for everyone at our rides in 2021, from newcomers to seasoned competitive performers,” said Cody Holloway. “We’re only a small committee but we’re determined to maximise the potential of putting the Watagan ride back on the endurance map.”