Wednesday, October 29, 2008

[WEC Reports] Royal Ride

Thestar.com.my

Thursday October 30, 2008
By HILARY CHIEW

The sport of kings takes on its literal meaning at the National Horse Show in Terengganu.

ENDURANCE riding is one of the newest and fastest growing branches in equestrian sport and no less than the King himself is promoting the discipline.

Not only is Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin the patron of the Marang Endurance Track, a new competition at the 14th National Horse Show (NHS), His Majesty will also take part in the race to be held for the first time in his home state of Terengganu.

The accomplished equine enthusiast is all set to display his skills in the 40km and 80km events.

Jointly organised by the Terengganu state government, the Royal Terengganu Endurance Stable and the Selangor Turf Club (STC) Equestrian and Sports Centre, the three-day event from tomorrow will also feature two other "firsts".

The annual show, which debuted in 1994, will host the Federation of Equestrian International World Jumping Challenge and World Dressage Challenge at the main venue, the Terengganu Equestrian Resort.

The endurance race is undoubtedly an exciting one as it challenges the fitness and skill of both the horse and rider. It is a test of good horsemanship where the riders must be attuned to the conditions of their mounts.

Apart from the medals for top placings, an additional award – the Best Conditioned Horse – will be given to the animal athlete determined by a combination of speed, weight carried and veterinary scores. This is undoubtedly a coveted recognition in any endurance race. STC veterinarians will be on hand to provide professional care to the horses in all the events at the show, especially those taking part in the strenuous endurance race.

STC official veterinary surgeon Dr Rebecca Tan, who is in the veterinarian commission of the NHS, says all the horses will be inspected for fitness to compete prior to the race and a series of compulsory checks are scheduled at intervals to ensure that the animals are fit to continue.

The newly-introduced equestrian events will certainly make the show more interesting. Besides the endurance race, there are also a pony club mounted challenge, a trade exhibition and a horse carnival. The carnival, called Kuda Sukmo, will showcase fun activities like pony rides, buggy and carriage rides, games, sideshows, treasure hunts and competitions to keep school children and families entertained.

As an event to promote the education and development of equine sport, visitors will get a chance to view 20 breeds of horses, ranging from the local registered miniature, Criollo and Java to the Percheron.

Horse breeds have evolved over the centuries through adaptation to their environment and human intervention in crossbreeding animals from different regions to get the desired characteristics for required tasks. For instance, horses that were needed for hauling heavy loads were bred for strength, while those required for fast transportation were bred for speed.

Today, there are more than 160 breeds of race and equestrian horses that have been developed through selective breeding.

Billed as the nation's premier equestrian event, the show has grown from strength to strength within the equestrian community over the years, as indicated by the number of visitors that now number around 10,000 to 15,000.

Besides activities that involve horses, the show offers other attractions, including a regional farriery (horseshoe-making) competition, an equine trade expo and a carriage display.

Held for the seventh consecutive year, the farriery competition is one of the biggest attractions for visitors, who are fascinated by participants hammering out and shaping horseshoes.

NHS head of media Lo Wai-fai says the profession is growing in tandem with the development of the equine service industry and the competition attracts local farriers as well as those in Asia from Brunei, to as far as Turkey.

Leading suppliers of equine products such as tack and saddlery, riding apparel, veterinary and equine nutritional products, fodder and stable equipment will participate in the expo, which has been an integral part of NHS since 1994.

And the show wouldn't be complete without that other item that is often associated with horse – the carriage.

The organisers have brought in a collection of these conveyances – the two most outstanding carriages are an authentic Australian regal glass carriage and an 18th century cobbin coach used to carry mail and money in bygone days.

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Posted By Merri to WEC Reports at 10/30/2008 05:10:00 AM

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