December 4, 2021

Test of Endurance for Local Teen Rider

(Franklin, GA) — A Heard County High School student is achieving extensive success in an unusual sport. HCHS Sophomore Kimberly Loutzenheiser competes in the niche equestrian sport of endurance riding.

According to Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the sport of endurance riding is a long-distance competition against the clock. It tests the speed and stamina of both horse and rider, and challenges each combination to provide an effective use of pace and navigational skills over undulating terrains. Endurance is the ultimate test of the partnership between horse and rider.

Kimberly Loutzenheiser (Photo: Becky Pearson Photography)

Mandatory vet checks and rest periods are a key aspect of the competition and ensure horse and rider welfare through the long distance tests.

In endurance riding, horses are given emergency-room attention several times during a competition, but not because they have life-threatening problems.

Checkups are scheduled around every 15 miles to give the horses a short breather and confirm they are physically sound enough to continue.

The on the spot exams also play an important strategic role in endurance riding because the faster a horse’s heartbeat falls to 64 beats a minute, the sooner the rider is allowed to resume the ride. So it behooves horse owners and riders to keep their 1,000-pound machines in good working order and not push them beyond their limits just to win.

Kimberly began riding horses about seven years ago and only started endurance riding when she was just 12 years old. Appropriately, Kimberly also competes in long-distance running as a member of the HCHS Cross-Country and Track and Field teams.

The 15-year-old had a very strong showing in her last big event on January 26 in Ehrhardt, South Carolina. Riding Christo Dinklemann’s DCL Mooi Penny, Kimberly won Best Condition on the ride on day two of the 120 JYR event, with a ride time of just over nine hours.

Penny is an Arabian mare that is a surprising 21 years of age — although not that unusual for a sport where horses are on average more than a decade old.

While horse racing has its thoroughbreds, harness racing employs standardbreds and saddlebreds entertain us at equestrian shows, endurance horses have no particular breeding — though Arabians are preferred by most riders. Just like human athletes, preparation and experience play vital roles for the horses as well.

Kimberly is currently the second ranked FEI USA Young Rider in the World with 80 points. There are only four Americans ranked in the top 21 in the world and the majority of riders hail from the UAE (United Arab Emirates).

In one of her next big U.S. events, she will try for an international qualifying time at Biltmore, NC in May on a different horse, Shahqeem (Shaq). She rides several different horses all owned by Christo Dinklemann — a Georgia resident originally from South Africa. Biltmore is Kimberly’s favorite place to compete.

Kimberly Loutzenheiser on Shahqeem ‘Shaq’ in November 2017 at Broxton during the National Young Rider Team Championship (Photo courtesy of Becky Pearman Photography)

Kimberly has completed hundreds of miles of riding in her career in the grueling sport where just finishing the entire course with both rider and horse in good health is considered to be a major win. Rides typically begin very early in the morning and last until near sundown in most cases.

She says the challenge and competition are what drives her to perform at such a high level.

“I definitely love the thrill of endurance riding, the whole day it’s a constant challenge, from being in a hold to riding in the dark at the end of a 75,” says Kimberly. “One of my favorite parts of racing is the scenery, we go to rides all over the southeast and some in the northeast — and they are absolutely beautiful. But of course, I am a competitive person and love a good race and some pressure.”

Her primary goal is to earn a spot on the United States team and compete at the 2019 World Endurance Championships for Young Riders and Juniors this fall.

The international competition will take place September 19-22 in San Rossore, Italy. The event only takes place every two years and features athletes from around the world representing their nations.



  1. Gary Loutzenheuser says

    Great story😍

  2. Leigh Aiken says

    What a great article! Super pictures also! How exciting that must be for her! Thanks for sending. You both will definitely be in my prayers when you go up to the next event! Have a great day. Leigh

  3. Patricia Lewis says

    A very good article. I envy Kimberly and Marvin—their youth and stamina. Patricia

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