On 24 March Fontainebleau, France hosted an international endurance competition. Tara-Lea van Zyl (gr. 11) at Eunice High School, represented the National Schools Endurance Riding team, completing the difficult 90 km course in 5 hours 37 minutes. Only 50% of competitors complete this ride. The Fontainebleau locals claim, “If you complete the ride, you win the ride”. Tara-Lea was awarded a plaque from the Grand Parquet Endurance for completing the very difficult 90 km amateur competition.
Six weeks thereafter Tara-Lea showed off her skills at the South African International Challenge (SAIC) held at Sondela Nature Reserve in Limpopo. The triangular competition involving South Africa, Namibia and Botswana is a prestigious one. National teams of Junior Riders (u/21) are selected from the following categories: light, standard, and heavy weight. Tara-Lea was selected for the junior national endurance team on La’El Nerishke and completed the 120 km in 6 hours flat on the 6th of May. Tara-Lea and two members of her team won the junior category, beating Namibia by 16 minutes.
Thick sand and extreme heat resulted in only 104 of the 184 horses being able to complete their 120 km ride. Tara-Lea also won the 80 km FEI ride in the junior category at the same event on Monday 5 May.
Receiving national colours at the SAIC event is the highest award in South African endurance riding – one Tara-Lea is very proud of. She is now ranked as one of South Africa’s best young endurance riders.