In early 2013 Queensland Endurance Riders Association embarked on developing a program to involve junior riders with national and international friendly endurance competition. To encourage junior riders to continue in the sport, achievable goals and incentives to succeed by way of selection in representative teams was to be promoted by the association. When being part of a team environment junior riders get a chance to grow in maturity and experience. The events are not about individual pursuits but about working together as a team to achieve great team results. To include all junior riders from Qld, the Southern Cross Challenge series of events was set up to cater for any rider of junior age who was qualified as an open rider. The challenge takes the endurance motto "To complete is to win" very seriously. The results from this team ethos have been magnificent. Completion rates have been outstanding and horse management has been the primary focus.
International competition is expensive and the series needs to be open to all juniors. QERA has a junior fund that helps with the running of these events with much reliance on the generosity of the associations members and sponsors.
An invitation was sent to New Zealand to field a squad for the inaugural event which was eagerly accepted and the Qld State Championships held at Murrumba in 2013 was chosen as the venue for the first 100km friendly.
This first event went so well that expansion of the series was planned for 2014. Since the inception of the Southern Cross Challenge it has grown in size and scope and has included many young riders from all over Qld, interstate and from around the world. Events have been held with visiting teams from South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania, New Zealand and South Africa.
Queensland squads have travelled for competitions to Tasmania, New Zealand and as far as the USA.
The experiences the team members have had through these events have been wonderful and it has opened up some fantastic contacts and opportunities for not only the riders involved but for our association. The friendships formed by these young riders and horse owners from across the globe shall be of great benefit for our international relationships as the sport moves into the future.
More events are planned for the future with trips away and visitors from foreign lands on the horizon as well.
With the help from the QERA membership and the generosity of some much valued sponsors these events shall continue well into the future strengthening our junior ranks and our relationships with endurance associations the world over.