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|Mark and Class Act after winning the 2007 New Zealand 160km*** Championship and Best Conditioned|
|Mark and Class Act in action|
|Mark with his father Ray and horse Jacob|
|Mark's first endurance ride (40km) in 1993 - aged nine and riding Grease Lightening - with father Ray|
|Brookleigh Maestro and Mark placing eighth in the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup, Nanango, Queensland.|
Successful New Zealand endurance rider, Mark Tylee, is based near picturesque Taumarunui on the central North Island. When he's not busy dedicating the hours needed to train his team of endurance horses to peak condition, Mark can be found working on his family's 900 acre sheep and beef property.
Horsezone managed to catch up with Mark and find out more about this talented and dedicated horseman.
Mark, when did you first become involved in horses?
I became involved with horses through my father Ray. I started riding on the farm then began competing in Endurance in 1993, at nine years old.
What do you love most about endurance?
The partnership you form with your horses while training and competing long distances, also the country you see that you otherwise wouldn't.
What makes a great endurance horse?
There is always exceptions but an athletic type with economical movement and a great heart and the willl to win.
Do you have a favourite horse?
Class Act is my favourite. We won two North Island 160km*** Championships and two New Zealand 160km*** Championships.
What horse would you love to own?
Nobby - two time European Champion and two time World Champion.
What's been your biggest achievement in the world of endurance?
Winning two North Island Junior Championships, three North Island Senior Championships and three New Zealand Senior Championships.
What are the most important factors when training an endurance horse?
It's all about starting slow and having patience - building up the heart, getting the legs sound. It is very much like Arthur Lydiard's (New Zealand runner and athletics coach) philosophy for human athletes of starting slow and building up over time. I reckon his philosophy must the most under-rated of all time - it even works for horses. The horse's health and conditioning is a major factor. This is a time-based event in that the winner will have the lowest time for racing the course.
Horse health is monitored by vet checks during endurance rides - how does this impact on your performance?
It is an exercise in training and judgement. You have to train your horse to recover quickly. When you are riding, you have to decide whether to push the horse hard to the end of the stage or whether you take it easier - and therefore save time in getting the horse's heartbeat down to the required level. You can be five minutes ahead but lose seven minutes with the vet.
Training tip for up and coming endurance riders?
I cant stress enough the importance of paying attention to detail. Know your horse and watch the ground constantly - one foot on the wrong rock and it could be all over.
What item in your grooming box could you not live without?
A hoofpick! It is vital to know there is nothing jammed in your horses foot prior to the vet check.
What competitions have you got coming up?
A 120km** event in two weeks and the North Island Championships in January, South Island Championships in Febuary and the New Zealand Championships in April.
Your goals for the future?
To compete in the oldest and toughest endurance ride in the world the 'Tevis Cup' California, USA.
What would you be doing if you weren't an endurance rider?
Farming full time.
How do you relax?
Reading, watching a movie, spending time with friends and family.
Big dogs or little dogs?
Little dogs - Fox Terriers.
Shout out to your supporters and helpers?
I couldn't do the sport without the continued support of my parents.
Thank you so much for your time Mark, we wish you all the best with your future competitions and will be keen to hear how you go!