Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Australian Endurance Riders battle Equine Flu
International endurance riding competitors for Australia, Peter and Penny Toft, have called a meeting at Marburg Community Hall for 7pm tonight to establish a voice for recreational horse owners affected by the crisis.

Mr Toft, who favours vaccination of all horses, said: "Our concerns are that we see no real plans to bring this crisis to an end.

"Our view is that managed one way, this crisis can be over in three months. With the process we are following at the moment, it will take a minimum of seven months

"We want the Government to establish policy and implement plans that can see a speedy return to normal activities and events in the optimum time frame."

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

FRA: 2007 Monpazier Endurance

Image by Celine Clerc
Karin Boulanger and Armia are Firstto Finish the 7th Anual Monpazier 160km Endurance Race. The race, held Friday, 21 September, was held under beautiful skies and with great warmth of spirit!

More images and stories may be found at: and

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Denmark: Sweden Takes Team Gold

Minam Kongevold/Ferrari
Image by Edgar Schrader
Minam Kongevold of Norway riding Ferrari finished first at the Nordic/Baltic Endurance Championship held today at Vesterhavs Denmark. Following closely for second and third place finishes were Liza Sundberg on Kristall and Jessica Holmberg riding Ztefan, both of Sweden.

Sweden captured team Gold at the event, with Norway taking Silver and Denmark Bronze. The race weather was perfect for a sand and surf ride to championships!

Full coverage of the event may be found at with special images from Edgar Schrader of Germany!

USA: APEX North Takes Team Title

Riders from the APEX North achieved the best overall team time at the Zone Team Endurance Challenge race, held yesterday in Montana. The Fort Howes endurance venue provided a challenging course which allowed team members Valerie Kanavy, Steve Rojek, Meg Sleeper, and Hernon Barbosa to complete with a team time of 30:40:44.

The second to finish team, JG Ranch (36:11:17) and third to finish team, Whistle (37:04:50) lead in the completion of 12 teams at this inaugural team challenge event. Complete Team results may be found at:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Starters and Teams for Nordic/Baltic Endurance Championship

Teams from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark compete for the Nordic Endurance Championship at the Vrensted og Omegns Rideklub in Løkken Denmark. The 124km CEI/YR *** event hosts riders from 5 countries.

Official Event Site
Endurance Europe.Net Coverage

USA: Zones Team Endurance Challenge Starters Ready

Ashland Montana

15 Teams of 4 riders are prepared for the 6Am start of the 2007 Zone Team Endurance Challenge in Ashton Montana! Team Rosters and the Start List now available.

Endurance.Net will be providing full coverage of the event with primary postings at 10am, 2pm, and 7pm on Saturday. Images of the preparations are available at Endurance.Net

Each team of 4 will compete for the overall team title of the event. There are also two entrants riding as individuals.

Equine Influenza Outbreak in Australia: an Update

21/09/2007 - FEI Press News

Border crossing restrictions prohibiting horses from New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) entering Victoria and other Equine Influenza (EI) free states will continue, despite NSW announcing reduced horse movement restrictions for some parts of NSW and a controlled vaccination program.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Hugh Millar said the priority in Victoria was to remain horse flu free. “Border crossings will continue to be monitored 24/7 in a bid to detect any illegal activity. Serious penalties apply to those who breach border restrictions, including imprisonment and heavy fines,” he said.

In addition, Dr Millar said any horses detected entering Victoria illegally could be detained, seized and destroyed.


Buffer zones and ring vaccination will be used to contain areas of high concentrations of equine influenza in NSW, as well as in Queensland, if required.

This move was endorsed on Monday by the National Management Group (NMG) overseeing the response to the animal disease. NMG agreed that despite more cases being discovered its view remains that with community support for the control measures the equine influenza outbreak can be contained and eradicated.

NMG was advised that a rapid increase of infected premises was explained by the fact that the disease had previously entered areas where there are a high number of horses together with a large concentration of properties such as the greater Sydney area and the Hunter Valley.

The NMG-endorsed strategy includes the establishment of buffer zones around areas of high disease prevalence and the use of ‘ring vaccination’ in conjunction with the buffer zones.

Horses vaccinated in these buffers will assist disease containment which, if effective, will establish a circle of immunity around infection areas. NMG has also agreed to the procurement of sufficient vaccine stocks for emergency purposes.

Natural geographical features such as escarpments, mountain ranges, and national parks will be used to help define buffer zones and some horses within the buffer zone will be moved out. Strict movement controls will remain in place around infected areas to ensure horses do not leave these areas.

NMG stressed that, consistent with AUSVETPLAN, vaccination was endorsed for this purpose as an animal disease control tool. It is not a quick fix for eradication and has not been endorsed for any other purpose at this time.

Compliance with standstill provisions or other state-based movement restrictions, the maintenance of good biosecurity practices, and early reporting of suspected disease remain critical elements key to current efforts to contain the disease outbreak.
In recognising effects on industry of current and proposed containment measures, NMG agreed the use of ring vaccination must be undertaken as part of a broader strategy aimed at minimizing the disease’s impact on all sectors.

Having regard to this need, NMG agreed that a framework must be urgently established that could enable further vaccinations or other interventions if required and that industry will be invited to contribute to identify priority areas.

Consistent with an earlier NMG decision, it reinforced the view that better forecasting tools be developed to track progress of the disease outbreak and that these needed to include time-lines predicting the successful conclusion of the response to the disease.

To assist planning and possible future decision making, NMG also agreed to prepare information on a scenario of equine influenza becoming established in Australia, including the implications associated with broader vaccination of the general horse population.

NMG emphasised that movement of horses from NSW, ACT and Queensland to other states and territories remains prohibited.

NMG is comprised of the Chief Executive Officers of the Commonwealth and State/Territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia and also the heads of the peak bodies representing the horse industry. It is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Conall O’Connell.

Media contacts: Acting Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Bob Biddle + 61 (0)419 014 817
Chief Executive Australian Racing Board, Andrew Harding + 61 (0) 417 043 233

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NZL: NZ endurance rider Howard Harris dies

Australian-based New Zealand endurance rider Howard Harris died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with mesothelioma cancer. He was aged 62.

Harris was a very experienced international endurance competitor, having ridden in four World and seven Continental Championships between 1988 and 1996. With his homebred chestnut Arabian gelding Harmere Turfan, he finished second in the coveted Tom Quilty Gold Cup in Australia. He rode for New Zealand at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006.

In announcing Harris's death, Kerry Ridgeway said that "Howard went through life like a comet, always blazing and always casting a bright light and a big presence. He was one of the people instrumental in developing endurance at the FEI level in the Southern hemisphere.

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Bahrain: New Endurance Season to Kick Off

ENDURANCE horseride season is set to commence on November 3 with the Season Opening Championship at the Bahrain International Endurance Village in Sakhir.

The timetable of the equestrian and endurance championships were approved at the Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) meeting.

Breef president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa chaired the meeting which highlighted the schedule of showjumping and endurance competitions.

The showjumping season will kick off with a two-day event on November 8 and 9 at the Mounted Police Centre grounds in Budaiya.

At the meeting, Shaikh Nasser and the board members discussed Bahrain's preparations to participate in the Arab Games endurance horseride competition set to be held in Cairo on November 23.

The federation decided to address the Bahrain Olympic Committee and discussed the host country's preparations to hold the endurance race.

Shaikh Nasser stressed on the importance of co-ordinating with the private sector in Bahrain and find new sponsors for the showjumping and endurance activities for the coming season.

The Breef chief also requested to have arrangement for a meeting for the GCC Equestrian Organising Committee and activate its programmes in the near future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

USA: Zone Team Endurance Challenge

The USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) sponosored ZTEC ride is being staged this weekend, September 22, in Fort Howes, Montana. Ride organizers Jan and Bill Stevens are hosting the event at their ranch. Jan Stevens reports that "Fritz Harshbarger, photographer and dance instructor, will be covering the ride with photos and updates.
Volunteers have started showing up with Anne Pfeiffer coming in last night. Anne has outdone herself with her customized mirrors and various other artwork to be used as awards. She's busy today creating the edible goodies (critters) that she is famous for.
Weather is looking good with highs in the upper 70's, lows in the 40's. Some chances of rain throughout the week - a welcome relief to the dry conditions we have right now.
As of right now we have 16 teams (3-4 riders per team) coming to compete - FEI, Open, and Mixed (FEI/Open). Riders are coming from Vermont to California, from Oregon to Illinois, from New Jersey to Texas, including 4 teams from Canada. Included in that mix are 4 teams with juniors and one Young Rider team (riders 16-21 years old)."

The is an AERC and FEI sanctioned event, with emphasis on Sponsored Team placement.

ZTEC Website

The following teams have registered for the event:
(Team Name, Chef d'Equipe, Riders)

APEX North

Ann Stuart
Valerie Kanavy
Hernan Barbosa
Meg Sleeper
Steve Rojek


Jeremy Olson
Heidi Alexander
Jeremy Olson
Ellyn Rapp
Jesse Dux

Whistle (WIS-ILL)

Roberta Harms
Peggy Brush
Linda Jacobson
Joan Fisher
Roxie Rivkind

Mountain Mettle

Susan Horne
Susan Horne
Karen DiCamillo
Jessica DiCamillo
Linda Browneller

Western Montana Endurance Riders

Suzanne Hayes
Suzanne Hayes
Melanie Shirilla
Doug Swingley
Lynn Lee


Carol Giles
Carol Giles
Michelle Roush
Ron Sproat
Becky Feidler

Marco Polo

Bill Stevens
Heather Stevens
Jennifer Stevens
Ashley Van Raalte
Frances Chase-Dunn
Kirsten Kimbler

The Ever-Readies

Tara MacLeod
Tara MacLeod
Ariel MacLeod
Makayla MacLeod
Larry Handziuk

ABC Team

Martin Marsh
Jan Marsh
Julius Bloomfield
Kathy Irvine
Terre O'Brennan

Prairie Chicks

Carol Wadey
Carol Wadey
Robyn Wadey
Rae-Anne Wadey

Prairie Fire

Brian Zwaa
Trish Dowling
Murray MacKenzie
Myna Cryderman
Crystal Fulcher

Malibu Endurance

Charisse Glenn
Charisse Glenn
Kim Fuess
Nicolas Vasquez
Carl Mergenthaler

Central Juniors

Carl Kimbler
McCamey Kimbler
Kelsey Kimbler
Darolyn Butler
Alexandria Kirkland


Fred Emigh
Fred Emigh
Luanne Holmsen
Sultan Bin Sulayem
Joyce Sousa

JG Ranch

Grace Ramsey
Jan Worthington
Eileen Kirsch
Guy Worthington
Julie Jackson

Team Bubba

Grace Ramsey
Candy Barbo
Anita Sinnott
Tom Gower
Michelle Mattingley

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Redefining Horizons - Endurance in the long run

September 19 2007
In his other life as a renowned international film director Paulo Branco is known as an innovator. It was not surprising then that the vice president of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation and organiser of the 2007 European Championships would present an event that would break new ground in the sport.

Speaking on the eve of the event, he said his team’s mission had been to “recognise that the sport of endurance was gaining credibility among the other equestrian disciplines internationally but that this was the moment to push it forward still further”.

He said the benchmarks towards achieving this would focus on staging a highly competitive event in terms of participants and a challenging course, by focussing further on the safety of the horse and making a bigger impact on the public and media.
He said: “This is the direction we are heading, particularly with a new level of media coverage and we hope, the choice of a pleasant, technical and fast course in order for the riders to enjoy but also to prove their level of competitiveness.”

Sponsored by the Qatar Foundation and with the support of Turismo de Portugal, the 2007 European Championships ticked all the boxes for competitiveness with a finale that the film director himself could not have envisaged, victory, which had been firmly in the grasp of the United Arab Emirates being claimed by France just a few hundred metres from the finish line. Portugal hosted the first Open European contest jointly with Spain in 1999 at Elvas/Badahoz and it was fitting that this return to Portugal nearly a decade on produced a record line up for an Open European contest with more than 20 nations represented including the USA and Russia. Illustrating the widening reach of the sport in Eastern Europe, there were riders from Hungary and Georgia. For the first time, Greece was represented at this level. The wider than ever pool of entries from the Middle Eastern countries was a tribute to the development of the sport in that region. Alongside the United Arab Emirates came Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the widely popular success of the Bahrain team in securing the silver medal in the Open competition signalled not only the rapid progress of countries new to the sport at this level over the past decade but also the extent to which the endurance community internationally has bonded and embraced the achievements of those setting new standards in the sport.

The course presented by the organising team through the coastal plains close to Lisbon, was indeed fast. Not as flat as a desert track, nonetheless it was over only mildly undulating countryside with no significant climbs. Cutting through estuary country criss-crossed with rice-paddies, canals and dykes as well as pine forests and oak plantations, the track was deceptive and by no means easy. The mix of stony tracks, hard ground and deep heavy sand, required thinking, intelligent riding. The resultant ride statistics disproved any suggestion that this was anything other than a championship level course. The winning speed was an average of 19.118 km/hr, a long way from the record-breaking 2005 World Championship speed of 22km/hr in the UAE. After a long-hot summer in Southern Europe, the temperatures were not unlike those faced by riders in the Middle East and the attrition rate of 60% (average for a championship event) suggested that the humidity and climatic conditions had been a factor in some metabolic eliminations.

Several technical developments were brought in for the first time at a championship. Horses taking part were fitted with a GPS chip on their bridles to keep track of their progress. "This is the first time that a GPS system has been used in a major endurance championship and this has been done at the initiative of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation," said Hallvard Sommerseth, the Foreign Technical Delegate for the championship.

The Norwegian official, said the introduction of the GPS had been to help keep track of the runners at various stages of the competition. The move aimed to ensure the welfare of the horses as well as it will give organisers insight into how the runners were faring. The results were unanimously well received. President of the appeal committee Bo Kjellgren of Sweden said: “The use of transponders for the time keeping for the first time worked perfectly.”

He was less convinced by the use of a display system showing the pulse rates of horses in the vetgates which he said would need fine-tuning after certain “technical difficulties”.

However, efforts by the organisers to publicise the event heavily attracted thousands of spectators, not only to soak up the activity at the vetgate and dazzling display of speeds at the finish line but also the spectacle of the pre-dawn mass start. Throughout the day big screens updated the crowds on the race positions as well as fluctuating temperature and humidity. The next step surely will be the action to be relayed on a giant TV screen. Indeed, all day, helicopters circled over the leading riders as fittingly for an event organised by a film director, the 2007 championship secured the biggest live television audience for an endurance ride in the sport’s history with live coverage throughout the day on Portuguese TV as well as Dubai and Qatar TV channels. The only element of the drama that Snr Branco was unable to organise was a fairytale finish for the host nation – armchair fans and spectators at the event cheers their team into fifth place and raised the roof when Rui Pereira and his horse Canario, the first Portuguese combination appeared on the horizon to finish in 17th place. Whoever said endurance was not a spectator sport?

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Thank You to the Global Endurance Community

Le 16 Septembre2007

Bonjour à toutes et à tous,

Lors du championnat d'Europe à Barroca d'Alva au Portugal l'équipe de France d'endurance, composée de Sophie Arnaud, Virginie Atger, Philippe Benoit, Pascale Dietsh, Jean-Philippe Frances et Philippe Tomas, a de nouveau dignement représenté notre pays en cumulant les premières places du classement individuel et par équipe.

Les cavaliers, Jérôme Boisson, Christophe Pelissier et moi-même, nous adressons un grand merci à tous ceux qui nous ont encouragés durant toute la phase préparatoire et à tous ceux qui nous ont soutenus tout au long de l'épreuve. Merci également aux rédacteurs des sympathiques messages en tous genres qui ont été adressés à toute l'équipe après l'annonce de ce beau résultat.

Ce formidable succès est le fruit d'un long travail dans lequel il convient de rendre hommage à la grande qualité des éleveurs et de l'élevage français, j'y associerai les Haras Nationaux qui soutiennent en permanence notre discipline.

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September 16, 2007

Greetings to all

At the European Championship at Barroca d' Alva in Portugal the French Endurance Team, made up of Sophie Arnaud, Virginia Atger, Philippe Benoit, Pascale Dietsh, Jean-Philippe Frances and Philippe Tomas, again represented our country with dignity

The riders, Jerome Boisson, Christophe Pelissier and myself, extend a large thank you to all those who encouraged us during the preparatory phase and to all those which supported us throughout the event. Thank you also to those who sent letters of congratulations to all the team after the tremendous results.

This formidable success is the fruit of a long work in which we must pay homage to the great quality of the stockbreeders and the French breeding, and the National Stud farms which support our discipline permanently.

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Strong competition at European Endurance Champs

The FEI European Endurance Championship Open Qatar Challenge earlier this month was the first time Portugal had hosted an endurance event of this level. Several nations were slightly apprehensive about the track at in Barroca d'Alva, which although was flat with generally good going was demanding and would require a 'thinking cap' to achieve a good result.

Lately in endurance the trend has been to have one central vet gate from which all loops start and finish. The Championship this year was different, whilst the start and finish were in the same place; all other vet gates were held at a different venue.

The start was in Companhia Das Lezirias, an area with a diverse land use ranging from forestry, to vineyards to agricultural use, located further north than Barocca d'Alva. The race began on September 8, with the first leg 34.5km long, taking competitors south along farm and woodland tracks. Loop two was shorter, only 21.75km and took competitors further south again for 10km before bringing them back up to their second vet gate at Barroca d'Alva.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

FEI chief praises Royal Team

Bahrain Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN'S Royal Endurance Team, led by Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has been praised by International Equestrian Federation (FEI) endurance committee director Ian Williams for its recent successes in international competitions.

The Bahrainis last week clinched second place in the team category at the FEI European Endurance Championship in Portugal, and were also runners-up at the annual Compiegne Endurance Horseride Race in France in August.

In light of these achievements, Williams claimed that the team has a bright future in the sport. He added that their success is not a surprise because of the optimal care and attention given by Shaikh Nasser, who is the Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation president.

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Sports channel will broadcast a live interview with the team members tonight at 9.30pm. Viewers will have a chance to call in and personally ask questions to Shaikh Nasser and the other team members.

Friday, September 14, 2007

2007 European Championship - In Retrospect
Steph Teeter

And yes, this event was indeed a fierce and compelling competition. A race, not a ride. And it wasn't just a few that were racing, everybody was maintaining a competitive pace, fairly close to the front of the pack. The winning time was 8:22. The slowest time was 10:46 - only a 2 hour spread between first and last over a 100 mile course. The top 12 riders finished within 30 minutes of each other, and 50% of finishers were within 1 hour of the winning time. I don't recall any World Championship that has been this closely contested. Four UAE riders left the final vetgate in first position, at least 10 minutes in front of the next horse. In the final results, all but one UAE rider was passed - by France and Spain - doing the final 27k phase (16miles) in one hour.

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Portugal - Ride Day 2007!!

Merri Melde

Whereas yesterday's atmostphere seemed to me to be somewhat relaxed for what I expected a European Championship to be, today it was intense, especially in the crewing area. Coming into the vet gates, it was like Indy 500 pitstops. Immediately as the horse crossed the line to stop the timer, people swarmed the horse to each do their specific job: one to grab the horse and remove the bridle, two - one on each side - to remove the saddle, one to throw water between the legs, two on each side to sponge the neck, two more on each side to pour buckets of water on the the horse, one to take the pulse, the whole crew and horse moving as one multi-legged organism toward the set-up water buckets for that horse, or moving toward the vet in gate.
Turning the corner for home, Vega and Prince Ahmed kicked into a sprint - but the race was over as soon as it started. The Prince's horse stumbled right away and he fell out of the race-in. However, I think Shaikh Ahmed's horse faked a stumble on purpose so he wouldn't have to race this little Rayito, because he knew there was going to be no catching him.
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2007 European Championship Qatar Challenge - wrap up

I'm finally home, back in our quiet little corner of SW Idaho. Time to get caught up, and reflect a little. I decided to go to Portugal for the European Championship partly to promote our latest venture into the web world of Endurance (EnduranceEurope.Net), partly because the USA had decided to field a team to Portugal and I wanted to be there to support that effort, and partly because this event would be - from an FEI Endurance perspective - THE major competition of the year. Europe's best, and also the Middle East's best. Which is basically the world's best. The organizing committee offered a hotel room, press pass, all that stuff - so it was a pretty easy decision. Plus Merri Melde would be over there, finishing up her European summer endurance tour, and could focus on photography while I focused on the event, updates, coverage, etc.

And yes, this event was indeed a fierce and compelling competition. A race, not a ride. And it wasn't just a few that were racing, everybody was maintaining a competitive pace, fairly close to the front of the pack. The winning time was 8:22. The slowest time was 10:46 - only a 2 hour spread between first and last over a 100 mile course. The top 12 riders finished within 30 minutes of each other, and 50% of finishers were within 1 hour of the winning time. I don't recall any World Championship that has been this closely contested. Four UAE riders left the final vetgate in first position, at least 10 minutes in front of the next horse. In the final results, all but one UAE rider was passed - by France and Spain - doing the final 27k phase (16miles) in one hour.

Europe has dominated Endurance from a medal winning perspective (France in particular) during the past decade, and the Middle East (UAE in particular) has dominated the sport relative to speed records and funding for training and research. And as it turned out, UAE dominated the European Championship at the speed level - first in and out of every vetgate, and first - fastest - across the finish line. Likewise France took home the medals - individual gold and team gold for the continental championship. There were some very impressive horses at this event as well as displays of impressive horsemanship.

The UAE team held together, all six riders, until the very last vetgate when Sh. Rashid's horse vetted out for lameness. They still had 5 riders in at this point. One of their team members, Sh. Ahmed was set back during the first loop with a thrown shoe, but gradually moved forward during the ride hoping to salvage a team medal. A few hundred yards from the finish the UAE team effort collapsed when Sh. Majid's horse fell. The spectators saw the fall, and the ensuing rush of people (both UAE and Bahrain support crew) down the finish stretch towards the accident, and the dust from the vehicles approaching from the access road, and the hovering helicopter, but we never saw the horse and rider again. Eventually we saw a horse ambulance retrieve the horse, and heard that the horse was ok, just superficial injury. But that was that for the UAE team. So close! And I had found myself cheering for them along with others - they seemed so unified, so focused on the team effort - and definitely displayed good manners and horsemanship during the event. They did manage to hang on to the individual gold in the open division, but just barely, and the effort cost another finish when the first of the two UAE horses across the finish line failed to pulse down in 30 minutes. There were two more UAE finishers, in 5th and 16th place, for a 50% UAE completion, but not the team.

France was, well, as usual, amazing. The team effort was focused and though they lost a team member early on, they did manage to finish 3 team members for a team Gold. Jean Pierre Frances closed the gap during the final phase and just barely (6 seconds) beat Spain's Jaume Punti at a finish line sprint. It was definitely a race for the Gold. In February of this year I spent a day at Jaume's UAE based training stable. Jaume is one of the trainers for Sh. Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum (here's the story ) and it would seem to be no accident that both Jaume and Maria Alvarez Ponton (who rides/trains with Jaume) did well. They have an extremely tight, focused, disciplined training program in the UAE, and I imagine that their own stable in Spain is just as well run.

I also kept close watch on the USA effort. They are truly to be commended for making the effort - time, money, preparation, travel, etc - to field a team to compete in Europe. If the USA is to get back into the game of World endurance competition, the best way to do so is to experience first hand what the sport has become. This is not the same playing field as it was when we were dominating the sport and winning the medals. This is serious horse racing - full time, wholly committed training - and giving it all during the race. The USA came here to compete, not to 'just get around' and they gave it their all. And were still in the game, up until the final vetgate, where all of the horses vetted out for lameness...

I asked Vonita Bowers (the USA Chef d'Equipe for this event, and the Endurance discipline director for USEF) what her take on it was. She said "We did not go just to get around, so we were riding at a speed that could put us in striking distance of a placing. I thought for the most part the riders did this well. We are not as prepared (trained/conditioned) as it takes to run with the UAE and the French. In the end we needed 16 more good miles out of the horses and we just didn't get it." Vonita also said that this effort, this learning experience, underscores the need for a permanent coach and Chef d'Equip, one that is "with the riders from the beginning of their preparation for an event until the event is over."

Vonita also said that she felt that the USA has the quality of horses that it takes to field a winning team, "The USA has within its borders some excellent prospects. I continue to believe it doesn't take brilliant horses to win a team medal. I think it takes good horses with the proper conditioning and training. It takes good riders that realize that they don't know it all - riders who are willing to be coached. It takes a level of dedication and a degree of selflessness that we have not exhibited in the past. I am convinced that winning is within our reach if we have riders who are willing to do what it takes."

So, yes - conditioning, training, discipline, time, money - this is now a full time sport for many, and that full time commitment certainly shapes the outcome. Altogether, the event was very well run. Huge sponsorship, tremendous press coverage, almost to the level of past WEC's. A big deal race.

Congratulations to all -

Next for me - the Sultans Cup Terengganu Challenge - horses and riders being shipped from around the world to test the 2008 WEC course. FEI wants a 40% completion rate (I think that's about what Portugal ended up with). The Malaysians want to prove to the world that championship level Endurance can be done in Malaysia. All of us want a fair trial, cool heads and healthy horses.


Full European Championship Coverage

USA: Re-riding history: 800-mile race tests horses and riders

Kansas.Com - The Wichita Eagle
Two riders compete Thursday in the Great Santa Fe Trail Race across the Flint Hills near Council Grove. The race is a re-enactment of Francis Aubry's 1848 ride from Santa Fe, N.M., to Independence, Mo.

The Wichita Eagle

Thirty miles into his 51-mile race through the Flint Hills on Thursday, rider Jason Stasiuk dismounted, pulled off his saddle and walked alongside his horse as theyarrived at a required rest stop.

At a water trough, as Razzmataz drank, Stasiuk dipped his cowboy hat in the cold water and began pouring it not over himself but over the 18-year-old Arabian horse.

"He takes real good care of me," said Stasiuk, from Humble, Texas. "And I need to take care of him."

That's probably not how Francis Aubry did it.

In 1848, on a $1,000 bet, Aubry set the horseback record for shortest time traveling the 800 miles from Santa Fe, N.M. to Independence, Mo.: five days and 15 hours. He ruined six horses.

Now 60 riders and 160 horses are retracing his journey, racing the 800 miles over 13 days -- for the experience, and for bragging rights.

They are taking breaks -- and showers. But like Aubry's race, theirs is also marked by grit, sweat and blood.

Two horses died Tuesday and their riders landed in a Wichita hospital after the horses collided with a car in McPherson County. Both riders have rejoined the race as spectators.

Before the race began, the Santa Fe Trail Association refused to have anything to do with it. And some historians said it was the type of history that shouldn't be repeated.

"Francis Aubry rode horses to death," said historian and writer Leo Oliva of Woodston, Kan. "No one has respect for that kind of thing. The accident that happened was tragic. But I feared that kind of thing would happen."

But riders said they put the welfare of their horses first.

"We're doing this not for the ribbon, not for the money, but to promote our breed of horses," said Mac McSwain of Winona, Texas, who raises Spanish mustangs.

"The horse means more to me than a race," he said.

An endurance race

Thursday, the racers gathered outside Council Grove before sunrise in a dew-covered pasture.

The day's ride would takethem over 51 miles of gravel roads through the Flint Hills.

There was no starting line and no gunshot to mark the start of the day's race.

Riders leisurely made their way east toward the rising sun. Some of the more ambitious went ahead at a slight trot, careful not to push their horses too hard, too early.

Endurance racing is all about going the distance in all kinds of conditions. In this race, which began in Santa Fe on Sept. 3 and will end Saturday in Gardner, horses and riders have gone over sand and mountains. They've persevered through rain and wind, on highways and chipped rock.

They average 50 to 80 miles a day -- nine to 12 hours a day. Most of the time, they travel backroads and lonely highways.

The riders come from Washington state, Maryland, California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Kansas and Texas.

They've brought Arabians, mustangs, Quarter horses, Tennessee walkers and Morgans.

Veterinarians travel with the race. Twice a day, the horses must pass inspection. If there is a question whether a horse is suffering, it cannot race.

McSwain, who is in his 60s, wanted one last great adventure. He and his wife brought six Spanish mustangs, intending to ride as a team.

Monday, a crowd frightened the horse he was riding through Dodge City. The horse reared; McSwain fell off, breaking his collarbone and shoulder.

"He's a country horse," McSwain said, arm in a sling. "He's not used to people yee-hawing. He's not a bad horse. He just had a bad rider."

Bragging rights

The race originally was billed as having a $100,000 prize. But organizer Rob Phillips was unable to raise the money.

Instead, Phillips says, winning "is bragging rights. You can brag about this for the rest of your life." Winners also will get belt buckles.

The individual rider and team with the shortest overall times will win.

Teams paid as much as $4,500 to compete.

Phillips says he intends to organize the race again next year.

"It's too wonderful to quit," he says.

He acknowledges some people have been critical of the race. But he points to all the communities that committed to feeding the horses, riders and their crews: Dodge City, which hosted a concert for the riders with cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey; Lyons, which had an old-fashioned baseball game; Council Grove, where merchants kept their stores open until 9 p.m.

"From our standpoint, it was pretty darn good," said Kay Hutchinson, executive director of the Council Grove/Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office. "You'd be hard put in Council Grove to find anybody who didn't think it was a good deal."

A day off

On Wednesday, when the riders and horses had a day off near Council Grove, many were numb. One slept like the TV cowboys -- on the ground, saddle for pillow, hat pulled over his eyes.

April Cyrek of Humboldt County, Calif., was concerned about her 9-year-old Arabian mare, Bremarashir. The mare is blind in one eye and the rain and wind on Wednesday blew into the horse's good eye.

Still, she was glad she was on the endurance ride.

"You can see the country on the back of a horse," she said.

Billy McClain from Mission, Texas, said he and his two grown daughters have wanted to ride across country for years. "This is once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Endurance riding, McClain said, is all about knowing the rhythm of the horse.

"When there is humidity, you may not know your horse is hot -- but it's hot. You have to make sure your horse has plenty of water and is taken care of."

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or

France takes dual European endurance gold

Carol Phillips, H&H website producer
12 September, 2007

France took both the European team and individual championship over the coastal plains of Portugal, while United Arab Emirates (UAE) rider Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya became the new Open European Champion.

Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya crossed the line with the 11-year-old gelding Zakah Zahara one minute ahead of Jean Phillipe Frances, who won the European title with Hanaba Du Bois.

Spain's Jaume Punti Dachs and Maria Alverez Ponton set a new record by becoming the first husband and wife team to stand on the medal podium in second and third place respectively.

The French team of Sophie Arnaud, Virginie Atger, Phillippe Benoit and Pascale Dietsch regained the European title they last held in 2003. Together with the World Championship, the title gives France a stranglehold over the sport's international silverware.

[More ...]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

FEI: FEI European Endurance Championship: Barroca d'Alva

FEI Report
FEI European Endurance Championship: Barroca d'Alva (POR), 8 September 2007

France proved invincible over the coastal plains of Portugal taking both the European team and individual championship. UAE rider Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya became the new Open European Champion crossing the line with the 11-year-old gelding Zakah Zahara, a minute ahead of Jean Phillipe Frances, who won the European title with Hanaba Du Bois. Spain’s Jaume Punti Dachs and Maria Alverez Ponton broke a new record becoming the first husband and wife team to stand on the medal podium, Jaume taking the European silver medal and Maria taking the bronze.

The French team victory saw the team regain the European title they last held in 2003 over entirely different terrain at Punchestown in Ireland. Together with the World Championship the title gives France a stranglehold over the sport’s international silverware.

However, the win came at the 11th hour as until the final few hundred metres, victory had seemed certain for the United Arab Emirates. Portugal had been a happy hunting ground for the team as it was at Elvas/Badahoz that the UAE won the inaugural Open European title in 1999. The UAE team had ridden together and led the field all day with a lead of more than a hour in the team contest. Despite losing Sheikh Rashid at vetgate five, four UAE riders had the finish line in their sights until disaster struck on a bend just under a kilometre from home in view of a bank of thousands of spectators lined up at the finish. Sheikh Majid’s horse Kevin de Narthou appeared to spook at some irrigation pipes and fell. In the ensuing melee, two UAE riders, conscious that the French team were closing fast, continued, Sultan Bin Sulayem crossed the line first with Nashmi, but the horse did not pass the final vetting giving victory to team mate, Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya, team trainer to Sheikh Mohammed.

The increasing success of the Middle Eastern countries was signalled with a silver medal in the open team competition for Bahrain. Spain took bronze in the open team event and silver in the European contest where Switzerland joined France and Spain on the podium continuing the team’s medal winning streak begun at the 2005 European Championship in Compiegne.

For Jean-Louis Leclerc, who succeeded the late Pierre Cazes as chef d’equipe of the French team, the win for the squad of Sophie Arnaud, Virginie Atger, Phillippe Benoit and Pascale Dietsch, represented the moment when he was able to stamp his own mark on shaping the success of the team. Preparation had been assiduous – the French team arrived had travelled down to Portugal in August and based itself in similar conditions, 200km from the venue in order to acclimatise.

He put much of the team’s success down to solid preparation, the gentle acclimatisation of the horses and to a close-knit team spirit. But he paid tribute to the achievement of the squad saying they had achieved “great things” at what he described as a difficult championship.

“Throughout the day it was very hot. The track itself was difficult. The temperature rose to over 30 degrees during the day and it was very humid. The terrain changed throughout – from being very fast to being very hard to being very soft and deep and was not to be underestimated. To cope with changing conditions through the day, there were too many changing parameters to stick to a single strategy for the event from the start. The riders had to adapt their tactics to the changing circumstances throughout the competition.”

Reflecting on the team’s success he added: “I would say that this was a true championship because the track was hard and there were lots of very competitive teams. The strength of the French team cannot be underestimated – it is hugely satisfying.”

Jean-Philippe Frances, a professional rider and trainer, said: “I was bowled over by the mare’s performance. She was perfect, she adapted so well to the changing conditions particularly to the rising temperature. I never expected this to happen at this level. Last summer I had come to the pre-ride and that served me well [the pair came second]. It was really important to alternate the allures and the sols which was the distinctive element of this track. In terms of heart rates, Habana was one of the best – it really was her day, she is the best!”

Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya, who began training for Sheikh Mohammed just a month ago, secured the UAE's fourth open title in succession with the 11-year-old gelding Zakah Zahara. Nonetheless he said he was disappointed that they couldn't complete the double and said: "I'm happy to have won the gold for the UAE but disappointed we lost the team gold after coming so close to winning it again”

There were 36 completions from the field of 88 starters – a pass rate of 40% which is the average at championship level. Six teams including the host nation, Portugal in fifth place and Great Britain in sixth place, earned the distinction of completing with three riders. There was disappointment for the USA, seeking to make a breakthrough at international competition after dominating the sport in its early years, with all three riders failing to complete .
The championship organised by Paulo Branco, vice president of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, won praise for its smooth running from officials. Bo Kjellgren, president of the appeal committee said: “The competition was excellently organised and went well with a spirit of fair play throughout.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

USA: Riders reach the halfway point

A farrier works on a horse Saturday at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo grounds. Participants in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride stopped in Dodge City for a weekend stay. RICK DRUSE/DAILY GLOBE
For Joe Reilly, one of the most enjoyable moments of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride came when he rode out of Santa Fe, N.M., the first day and saw the spectacular scenery around him.

Joyce Adams also raved about the scenery in Santa Fe. But for her, the most memorable part of that day was just finishing the race.

"I took a flatlander horse from western Kansas, and I took it up to the mountains and we completed it right in the middle of the pack," she said in an interview Saturday. "I wanted to say, 'Look at us! Look what we did!'". Reilly is an experienced endurance rider, while Adams is a novice. Both of them are competing in the first-ever Santa Fe Trail Horse Race, which began Sept. 3 in Santa Fe and will end 13 days later in Independence, Mo.

The race route mirrors the old Santa Fe Trail, with overnight stops in several communities along the way.

The riders took a weekend break at Roundup Arena in Dodge City, then saddled up early Sunday morning and hit the trail again.

[More ...]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

France top, Bahrain second

From Amith Passela - Khaleej Times Online
10 September 2007

ALCOCHETE (Portugal) — Bahrain captured the first major endurance silverware in Europe by claiming the team silver in the FEI European Championship Open Portugal 2007 Qatar Challenge.

France took gold and Spain bagged the bronze in Saturday's 160-kilometre race that saw 88 riders from 20 countries vie for the honours in the biennial event.

Cecile Milleto, silver medallist in the 2000 FEI World Championship and now training some of the horses for the Bahrain Endurance team, said it was a terrific performance from the Gulf nation.

"Bahrain is virtually new to compete in this part of the world and to win silver was a fantastic achievement.

"They have some fine endurance horses and are naturally good riders of long distances.

"They are already a strong team as they have proved in this European Open and I'm sure they'll keep improving all the time. They rode as a team to get on the podium and hopefully win more international medals in the future."

Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Thani, son of the Bahrain king, led the tiny Gulf nation to the podium by taking eighth spot on eight-year-old Basic Instinct.

The others were not far away, finishing in a group, occupying the 12th , 13th and 14th positions, Ghazi Al Dosseri (Baja De Piboul), Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al Hasan (Kefir De Sommaqnt) and Yusuf Ali Taher (Ganda Koy).

Dubai based endurance trainers Jaume Punti Dachs and his wife Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain said they owed their success to His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Dachs won the bronze in the European Endurance Open category and silver in the European Championship, and Maria was fourth in the open division and took the bronze in the European Championship.

"Much of our success in endurance racing is due to the opportunity we have had to train horses in Dubai and Spain," said Dachs, who has more than 40 horses in training for Shaikh Mohammed.

The UAE duly retained their hold on the FEI European Endurance Open title but lost a golden opportunity of preserving the team gold after a bizarre last loop.

They led the 160-kilometre trip until the second last loop but all their hopes of retaining the team title evaporated in the final kilometre from the finish line.

The UAE chances of making a sweep of the medals suffered a huge blow with the exit of Shaikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum in the penultimate loop, and then his younger brothers, reigning champion Shaikh Hamdan and Shaikh Majid, found their horses tiring with a kilometre left to the finish line.

Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya, who extended UAE's winning streak in the open category to four on 11-year-old gelding Zakah Zahara, was naturally disappointed that they couldn't complete the double. "We were forced go flat out in the final half of the last 27-kilometre loop. It was an error on our judgment that we lost the team medal.

The European Championship Open Portugal 2007 Qatar Challenge was Shafya's best ever career record since he began riding in endurance races from its very inception in the UAE.

"I'm happy to have won the gold for the UAE but disappointed we lost the team gold after coming so close to winning it again. Shafya is the new trainer for Shaikh Mohammed.

"I have been on the job for only a month and looking forward to the new challenge."

The UAE's hopes of retaining the team gold suffered the first set-back when Shaikh Rashid's 10-year-old gelding Spenda Crest Karnouflage was vetted out for lameness in the fifth loop.

Shaikh Rashid was with the leading group with the UAE holding the first five places at that stage of the race. Yet, they were on course for the gold with Shaikh Hamdan and his younger brothers Shaikh Majid and Shaikh Ahmed on the loop.

Shaikh Ahmed had an early setback. He lost ground when his mount Jazyk lost a shoe in the middle of the opening loop, but the 2002 FEI World Champions stayed in the loop and eventually finished 16 th.
Shaikh Hamdan on Kaysand Farrazah dropped down in the order.

[More ...]

UAE retain Euro title

From Amith Passela
Khaleej Times

ALCOCHETE (Portugal) – The UAE retained their FEI European Championship Open titles by claiming individual gold medal in yesterday’s Portugal 2007 Qatar Challenge. UAE's Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya astride Zakah Zahara won the 160km race. Asian Games broze medallist Sultan bin Sulayem crossed the finish line first by his horse Nashmi was disqualified.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, joined the celebrations after flying straight from his state visits to Vietnam and China.

The UAE had a dream start but suffered late blows to their chances of retaining the team gold when Shaikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s 10-year-old chestnut Spenda Cresta Karnouflage was vetted out for lameness in the second last loop when he was in the leading group with the UAE, occupying the top five places.

Reigning champion Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, who changed his riding plans twice before jumping onboard 11-year-old Kaysand Farrazah, finished down the order after leading most of the way and his younger brother Shaikh Majid didn’t finish after holding every chance in the final kilometre of the race.

Shaikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, rode a splendid race after his 10-year-old gelding Jazyk lost the left hind shoe in the middle of the opening 34.5km loop.

The 2002 FEI World Champions lost a lot of ground and trailed in 82nd from the 88 riders who were flagged off in foggy weather at 6.30am local time.

The early morning weather was an ideal start but the underfoot conditions were dry, sandy and hard. It turned hot and humid as the day progressed, but according to the locals, it was the best weather for such an event in the whole week.

It had been hotter and humid throughout the last three days, but the pleasant morning weather and a light breeze that continued to hold through the day was some bliss for the horses. The track threaded through the cork-oak forest and rice paddies provided a fine backdrop to compromise for the dusty underfoot conditions.

The UAE team held sway from the onset and led throughout the race. They occupied the first five places with Sultan bin Sulayem leading the opening loop from Shaikh Majid, Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya, Shaikh Rashid and Shaikh Dubai Hamdan, in that order, only a few seconds separating them.

The reigning European champion Kristel van den Abeele on 10-year-old gelding Epson De La Bruskaie came in a close sixth ahead of Dubai based Maria Alvarez Ponton (Nobby) and Jaume Punti Dachs (Elvis Hab) riding under the Spanish flag.

The next loop remained almost the same with Shaikh Hamdan leading the UAE group ahead of Shaikh Majid, Shaikh Rashid, Shafya and Sulayem.

Fahad Munib Al Hajeri of Qatar moved up three places to finish sixth in front of Alvarez Ponton and Dachs with Van den Abeele in ninth. Italian Fausto Fiorucci on Jaifar moved up five places to finish 10th.

Hajeri’s Australian bred 11-year-old gelding Pravado was vetted out in at the end of the 27.5km third loop.

It left the two Spaniards, Van den Abeele, Philippe Tomas (Joel Cabirat) of France and German Sabrina Arnold (Jestime) in the top 10.

[More ...]

Bahrain riders finish second

Gulf Daily News
BAHRAIN's Royal Endurance Team clinched second place overall in the FEI European Endurance Championship Open in Companhia das Lezirias, Lisbon.The six-member team, led by Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation (Breef) president Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, were behind eventual winners France and ahead of Spain in this six-stage event which was over 160 kms.

Riding Basic Instinct, Shaikh Nasser finished eighth overall in a time of eight hours, 45 minutes 29 seconds and with an average speed of 18.268 kmph.

The remaining Bahrainis who completed the race were Ghazi Al Dossary (9:01:43), Mohammed Abdulaziz (9:09:44) and Yousif Taher (9:09:45) who took 12th, 13th and 14th places, respectively.

The championship was won by Mubarak Khalifa Al Shafya of the UAE who steered Zakah Zahra to finish the race in 8:22:13 with an average speed of 19.115 kmph.

In second place was French rider Jean Phillippe (8:23:12), ahead of Jaume Punti (8:23:18) of Spain who was followed by compatriot Maria Alvarez (8:23:43) in fourth.

Five of Bahrain's six riders completed the first stage which was over 35 kms after Mahmood was eliminated when his horse Antar failed to pass veterinary inspection at the end of the stage.

The team was then reduced to four riders as Shaikh Daij, riding Shar Rushkin, was eliminated for the same reason.

However, the remaining riders survived the challenge and continued for a remarkable second-place achievement.

The team staged a fine comeback starting from the third stage where they moved from seventh to third behind the UAE and leaders France.

In the final stage, the UAE team stumbled in the last 200 metres as Shaikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoom fell from his horse while Shaikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoom was eliminated.

Shaikh Nasser was congratulated after the race by Breef first vice-president Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa who was present at the village.

General Organisation for Youth and Sports president Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, who was also at the venue, praised members of the team on their achievement.

The championship was also attended by Dubai ruler Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoom.

[More ...]

EuChamp: Bin Shafya happy with UAE's show

By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter -
Published: September 09, 2007, 21:33

Bin Shafya happy with UAE's show

Alcochette, Portugal: The European equestrian fraternity seemed to have become familiar with the UAE national anthem, which once again filled the air when Mubarak Khalifa Bin Shafya stood on the podium to extend the UAE's domination in the European Open endurance championships.

Bin Shafya, representing the UAE for the first time, won the 160-km Open individual gold medal on Saturday, but the newly-appointed trainer-cum-manager of the Al Asaafa Endurance Stables, owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said luck deprived the UAE of a team medal.

"I am delighted with my performance, but we really had a good chance of winning a team medal until the final stages when luck turned against us. First Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum's horse just about failed before the final loop of 27 kms.

Good display

"Despite that we were in sight of the team gold but with less than a kilometre left for the final loop, Shaikh Mayed Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum's horse Kevin De Narthou slipped and fell forcing a key team member out of the race and our team medal hopes vanished with that.

"Sultan Bin Sulayem also did very well to finish first, but his horse could not clear the vet check. Overall it was a good display by the UAE riders and I am satisfied with the performances of the horses," said Bin Shafya, who was given charge about a month back.

"As far as my win here is concerned, I always set the pace and it paid off. That has always been my policy to go for a win and with me not being part of the team, it helped me to go for the gold," added the new European Open champion, the fourth consecutive one to hail from the UAE.

Fantastic achievement

Frenchman Jean Phillipe Francas on Hanaba Du Bois, who took the Open silver and also topped the European pack, said it was a very tough ride.

"A silver medal, in a ride dominated by the UAE riders, is a fantastic achievement for me. I knew I could not catch the UAE riders so I just decided to ensure I won the European section, so getting a silver in the Open is a bonus," said the 31-year-old, who hails from Aix en Provence. Jean had won a team gold in the 2002 World Championship with France.

The Head of Endurance at the Dubai Equestrian Club, Ali Moosa attended the prize distribution and gave away the team medals.

"We could have ended with more success but that is how sport is. We are happy that the UAE riders displayed excellent character and won the hearts of the large crowds here with their horsemanship," he said.

[More ...]

2007 European Championship Qatar Challenge - Medal Winners

Full Event Coverage

Open Individual Division
Gold - United Arab Emirates - Mubarak Khalifa riding Zakah Zahara
Silver - France - Jean Phillippe Frances riding Hanaba du Bois
Bronze - Spain - Jaume Punti Dachs riding Elvis

Open Team Division
Gold - France
Silver - Bahrain
Bronze - Spain

Europe Individual Division
Gold - France - Jean Phillippe Frances riding Hanaba du Bois
Silver - Spain - Jaume Punti Dachs riding Elvis
Bronze - Spain - Maria Alvarez Ponton riding Nobby

Europe Team Division
Gold - France
Silver - Spain
Bronze - Switzerland

Best Condition
Hanaba du Boise ridden by Jean Phillippe Frances

Friday, September 07, 2007

EuropeanChampionship: Vetting In

The Vetting In

VET-IN DAY - Merri Melde

It's a hazy, warm, muggy Portuguese morning as the teams assemble with their horses for the vetting in for tomorrow's championship ride. The atmosphere (so far) seems to lack tension, and the vet check flows smoothly, with officials directing horse and groom traffic, taking the entries into the vetting area team by team. After they pass the vet check they are fitted with an electronic timer around their neck, and their numbers written on their butts with the grease pens. A few horses are wound up enough at the trot out they have to do it twice (or three times), but that's mostly because they've been separated from their buddies. The American horses look good and rested after their long journey.
[More ...]

Thursday, September 06, 2007

EuropeanChampionship: The Show Begins!

The Opening
The fun and chaos of a European Endurance Championship! Steph misses one of her flights due to insane security lines in London-Gatwick, there is no rent-a-car place at the airport that I rented a car from, I call the hotel and they have shuttle, and then they don't have a shuttle, the new hotel is so far out the taxi service is not quite sure how to get there or what to charge. I finally get to the hotel, throw everything all over mine and Steph's room (she will think a tornado hit), grab my gear, take another looooooooooong taxi ride to the venue (later one of the Swiss team said, ?I think your taxi driver was just driving you in biiiiiiiiiiiiiig circles, for fun!?), and once I'm there I realize I have forgotten some of my equipment.

[More ...]

European Championship: Horses' progress to be tracked with GPS chips

By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter
Gulf News
Alcochette, Portugal: Horses taking part in tomorrow's 160-km FEI European Open Championship will be fitted with a GPS chip in their collars to keep track of their progress.

"This is the first time that a GPS system will be used in a major endurance championship and this has been done at the initiative of the Portuguese Equestrian Federation," said Hallvard Sommerseth, the Foreign Technical Delegate for the championship.


The Norwegian veteran of endurance rides said the introduction of the GPS will help keep track of the runners at various stages of the competition.

The move will aid in ensuring the welfare of the horse as well as it will give organisers insight into how the runners are faring. In endurance the horses run in stages of about 30 to 40kms at a stretch and are subjected to stiff veterinary checks after every stage to ensure their welfare. In between the stages the horses are given about 20 to 30 minutes to recover for the next stage.

"The European Championship will also be bigger and better this year as there will be live coverage of the event on Portuguese TV as well as Dubai and Qatar TV channels," Sommerseth added.

The move will aid in ensuring the welfare of the horse as well as it will give organisers insight into how the runners are faring. Coverage

UAE the team to beat

By M. Satya Narayan, Staff Reporter
Gulf News

Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum , Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum and Shaikh Mayed Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum will lead the UAE's challenge, along with Sultan Bin Sulayem in tomorrow's 160-km endurance ride in the World Endurance Games.
Alcochette, Portugal: Nearly 90 riders from 20 countries will start tomorrow's 160-km FEI European Open Endurance Championship here about 25 kms away from the capital Lisbon and the team to beat will be the United Arab Emirates.

Ever since the UAE won its first-ever international championship, which was here in Portugal when the 1999 European Open championship was jointly held with Spain, the UAE riders have dominated the open category.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was the architect of that first win in 1999 when the UAE won the team gold and after that the UAE has virtually dominated the Open championships.

Shaikh Mohammad himself won the 2003 individual gold in 2003 while Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum won the individual gold in 2001 and now Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum starts as defending champion having won the gold in Compiegne, France in 2005.

Medal fight

Shaikh Mohammad announced the team last month which includes Shaikh Rashid Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Shaikh Mayed Bin Mohammad Al Maktoum, Sultan Bin Sulayem and Mubarak Khalifa Bin Shafya. The 160-km European Championship will have medals on offer for the Open event as well as the European event and the UAE will be challenged by traditional European powers France, Italy, Germany and hosts Portugal while two other GCC countries, Bahrain and Qatar along with the US add another dimension to the medal fight.

Ali Moosa, Endurance Head at the Dubai Equestrian Club said the UAE horses have been based in Newmarket through the summer and have been well prepared for the event.

The UAE, who last swept honours in the Doha Asiad winning the team gold and the individual gold and bronze are once again expected to be a strong force here.

Strong advantage

While the final team composition and the horses will be known today after the final pre-event veterinary check, the championship has attracted a strong field of 90 entries with at least 14 countries in the team championship.

Hosts Portugal will have a strong advantage

EnduranceEurope.Net Coverage

FEI European Endurance Championship Definite Entries Available

Riders from 20 countries have gathered near Lisbon Portugal for the 2007 FEI European Endurance Championship and Open Portugal 2007 Qatar Challenge to be held on Saturday, 8 September. The much anticipated event has began to the festive display of sport horses of Portugal. The stabling of the entrants at the COMPANHIA DAS LEZÍRIAS venue has taken place and this afternoon will feature the official opening ceremonies of the competition.

Riders from Europe are joined by those from the Middle East and North America to compete over the 160km course. While the course is relatively flat with excellent footing, the challenge is anticipated to be the heat and humidity at the event! The 30c and 45% humidity with slight overcast will prove to be the deciding factor in this event!

Full coverage will begin with the opening ceremonies with Merri Melde and Steph both on site! [More ...].

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mexico: Endurance Oriental Ride

El dia 30 de Junio del año en curso se llevo al cabo la segunda competencia de Endurance en las instalaciones de la Hacienda Santiago Texmelucan en Oriental, Pue. organizada por el Club Hipico La Ladrillera de Teziutlan, Pue.

Se convoco este evento a nivel nacional contando con la presencia de varios estados de la republica, entre ellos el Edo. de Mexico, Distrito Federal, Puebla, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Michoacán, asi como presencia de jinetes de varias nacionalidades; India, Canadiense, Argentina.

[More ...]

European Championship

140 riders from 30 nations gather in Barroca d'Alva Portugal for the 2007 FEI European Endurance Championship. The event, which starts tomorrow with the stabling of the horses, will take place on Saturday, 8 September. The Barroca d'Alva venue has hosted the pre-ride in 2006 and also the National Championship of Portugal this year. coverage begins with the presentation of an interactive course map which, using google earth or google maps, allows you to navigate the course (or fly through). There are additional links to videos of the course as well.

[More ...]

USA: Santa Fe Horse Race - Starting

Participants in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race will start off Monday, September 3rd to begin an 800 mile trail ride!

Commencing at 7:00 am near Rowe Mesa, the ride will see horses and riders travel all the way to Independence, Missouri during a 13-day endurance competition which includes 10 riding days and 3 break days.

Many competitors arrived in Santa Fe a week or so ago, in order to have time to acclimatize horses and riders to the altitude.

endurance horseThe endurance race will closely follow the old Santa Fe Trail which was traveled by traders and pioneers during the 1800s. New Mexico towns on the route include Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Clayton and Springer, and participants then proceed through numerous Kansas towns like Dodge City and Council Grove before finishing up in Independence, Missouri. Race participants can sign up as teams, with either a single rider handling the entire race, or two riders alternating the 50-mile legs of the race. Veterinarians will perform welfare checks on each horse three times daily, chekcing that the animal's heartbeat comes back down to normal after 30 minutes.

[More ...]
Official Race Site

Sunday, September 02, 2007

European Championship: USA to compete in Open

The USA Endurance Team Left the USA on Thurs. August 23rd for Amsterdam, on their way to the European Open Championship in Portugal. Along with the horses for the trans-Europe trip were Jim Bryant Jr, DVM, rider Jan Worthington, rider Darolyn Butler and crew members Dewayne Brown,and Jeremy Reynolds. They were joined in Amsterdam by Gary - a crew member for Cheyl Van Deusen and the van driver Michael.

After a two night rest in Amsterdam, the group set out for Tours, France. One night there, then on to Spain. Days began at 3:00am, in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning. Day three marked the teams' arrival in Lisbon, Portugal, and a short drive out to the ride site at Companhia das Lezirias. The facility is a beautiful ranch, complete with dressage rings, cross country and driving courses.

The terrain is much like south central Texas, rolling and arid. During the day, the horses are out in temporary paddocks, much the same as would be at an event in the US. At night, the horses go back to the stalls. Each day, the riders hand walk the horses and the horses are able to graze on the green grass along the edges of the rice paddies. The riders are able to take the horses out on what will be the start and finsh of the course.

THe course is fairly flat, with areas of deep sand and gravel. I think it is a bit harder than it appears at first glance. The climate is hot - mid 80's to 90s. The humidity is below 60%. The expected winning time is around 8 hours. First examination is Tuesday, the opening ceremony is Thursday, and the first inspection is Friday. The ride begins at 6:30 am on Saturday, which is 1:30 AM Saturday moring on the East Coast.

USA Team:
Darolyn Butler/ DJB Mercy Merci
Heather Reynolds/ Cal Flaming Emit
Cheryl Van Deusen/ DA Al Capone
Janice Worthington/ Molly’s Valiant Heart

submitted by Vonita Bowers, USA Chef d'Equipe. photos by Dewayne Brown

Saturday, September 01, 2007

FRA: FEI World Endurance Young Horse Championship

Maria Alvarez Ponton of Spain riding the French horse Julius de la Drome achieved first place and Best Condition at the 2007 CEI*** 140km FEI World Endurance Young Horse Championship in Compiegne France. Ms Ponton bested a field 84 starters to achieve the win.

As reported by Merri Melde, "...Fifteen riders went out within 3 minutes of each other, galloping out the gate in hot pursuit of the one ahead, with Nicolas Vazquez leading the charge. It looked like it could be a very close finish... what kind of strategy do you use on a last loop when you're all so close? It would likely all come down to what their horses had left, instead of what the riders had planned. ...".

The Festival included team competitions as well as the Young Horse Championship!

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