March 21, 2007
Kiwis sixth at World Junior Endurance Champs
Five young New Zealand endurance riders headed for Argentina earlier this month for the World Junior Endurance Championships, with the team finishing sixth overall.
The team was accompanied by their strappers and the support team from Endurance New Zealand (Kevin James High Performance Manager, Tony Parsons, Vet, John Stevenson and Dell Bissell Chef d'Equipe).
Dressed in their familiar black uniform with the embossed silver ferm horse the team made a splendid appeal at the Opening Ceremony and this was commented on by many spectators.
The New Zealand team was awarded the Vet Commission award for the best presented team and horses, and Ian Williams (head of the Endurance department at the FEI) congratulated the team on their presentation and professional conduct.
The Kiwis were among 57 starters and the five rode leased horses from Chile and Argentina.
Tessa Deuss was the first of the New Zealanders home, but at 18km/hour was not fast enough to be in the medals. The pace was fast - even a rater of 20km/hour didn't cut it in the flat terrain.
Uruguay won individual and team gold, with the UAE taking team silver and Brazil winning bronze. South Africa were 4th, Guatemala 5th, New Zealand 6th, Namibia 7th, and Australia 8th. There were 11 teams.
Riders reported that while the ride was flat, the footing was variable, with lots of metal and boggy parts. Flat rides favour tall, fast horses with the most familiar examples being in the Middle East where horses do phenomenal speeds compared to New Zealand. This kind of terrain is unfamiliar to New Zealand riders who are used to riding strategically in hill country, relying on their horses to be strong, sure footed and clever.
Team members had lots of invitations to ride in the Americas after the competition, and enjoyed the camaraderie that arises between competitors throughout and after the event.
For Kiwi riders the chance to get experience in world-class competition was invaluable, and should benefit the sport of endurance in New Zealand in the future.
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