Thursday, February 21, 2008

Australia: Recognition at last for rider


Mudgee Guardian - full article

FINALLY RECOGNISED: John Howe with the recognition he waited more than 17 years to receive.
By DON MAHONEY

Endurance rider John Howe was recognised for a rare achievement, some 17 years after the event, when he attended the annual general meeting of the NSW Endurance Riders Association on Saturday, February 9.

Howe was the first ever endurance rider to complete the Tom Quilty, Shahzada and the NSW State Championships on the one horse back in 1991.

In 1991, in the days before riding helmets were a compulsory part of an endurance riders’ equipment, Howe rode his 16HH American Saddle Horse ‘Beau Gallant Omen’ to complete all three rides.

"At the time Beau was a 9YO and I started with the 160 kilometres of the Tom Quilty on the June long weekend, then in August completed the 400 kilometres of the Shahzada and in October the 160 kilometres of the NSW State Championships at Mt Macquarie near Blayney," Howe said.

"I may never have attempted the feat if it hadn’t been for the late Paul Grieve, who was a great endurance rider.

"I asked if there was one thing he would like to do in his lifetime and he said he would like to complete these three events with one rider, one horse in the same year.

"Paul never got his wish so I set out to achieve it for him.

"To get over the line in all three events Beau had to pass 22 fitness tests on 22 occasions during the three rides and I’ll never forget the relief when the vets pronounced him fit after I crossed the finish line at Mt Macquarie.

"I decided to run the horse out myself for the last vet check as tired as I was and all the vets were there as well as a lot of endurance enthusiasts.

"I ran him out and then when I brought him back I felt him surge in his movement and felt confident he would make it - to this day it was my biggest thrill in the sport.

"Since 1991 only 10 people have been able to emulate the feat and at this year’s AGM at Port Stevens all 10 of us were presented with a special Big 3 award.

"Endurance riding is about completing the course safely and the horse being fit at every veterinary check point, including the final one."

Endurance riding has been at a standstill since the Equine Influenza outbreak forced the cancellation of the 2007 Shahzada last August.

The sport returns to the Mudgee district when the Mudgee Endurance Club hosts their 2008 race ride from the popular Cooyal base on May 18.

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