Inverell horse rider Miranda Hodges, who has only been riding for around 18 months, placed seventh in her first Stirling's Crossing Tom Quilty Gold Cup.
The 17-year-old qualified for the 160 kilometre endurance ride last year. Competing in the junior division against 30 other riders, Hodges started riding at midnight on the Friday, July 12.
Riders have 24 hours to complete the complex endurance ride that has a strong focus on horse safety with regular vet checking. She finished at 6.30pm on Saturday evening in equal seventh place.
Hodges said the major highlight among finishing in the top 10 was the amazing horse she rode on 'Papillion'.
"She is the strongest, most headstrong, caring horse I've ever met which is why she has gotten me through all of our rides together and I could not wish for a better horse to be stuck riding 160km on," she said.
Although hard to pinpoint exactly why she enjoys it, Hodges said the concept of riding 80 plus kilometres probably sounded "insane" to most people.
"Trust me in the middle of a 160km ride you certainly start to think it is, but I think that's why I love it. Endurance is a challenge, hence the name 'endurance'. Not only do endurance rides challenge you physically, sometimes rise trotting for hours at a time, but endurance is also mentally challenging as well."
Hodges said she though endurance was an amazing sport for anyone with a love of horses, being about to get out and ride for long periods.
"When it's just you and your horse and the passing kilometres, it forges an unbreakable bond that you won't find anywhere else."
The young rider thanked Team Flamingo's Clare and Davo for being so dedicated to preparing the horses and putting in long hours of work.
She said none of her achievements would be possible without them.
"Looking out for us at rides and doing whatever it takes behind the scenes to prepare the horses and I am tremendously grateful for the amazing opportunity they have given me by allowing me to train with and compete on their beautiful horses."
The motto for endurance is 'to complete is to win'. Hodges said endurance was all about the challenge of completing and the love of the ride. "So even if you come in last place, you still win and I think that is really something special."
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