Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Canada: Area rider competes in Malaysia

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Riding knows no boundaries and, as reported here earlier, Wendy Maccoubrey of Ste. Justine, Que., and her Arab gelding, Mariah, competed in the F. E. I World Endurance Championships in Terengganu, Malaysia from Nov. 6-9 as part of the seven-member Team Canada.

Held bi-yearly, the 2008 World Championship was held, for the first time ever, in a tropical environment at the Terengganu International Endurance Par, a venue which covered varying terrain such as the ocean coastline, palm plantations and canal banks, as well as naturally vegetated areas (jungle?!).

Daytime temperatures peaked at 105 degrees with 80 per cent humidity.

The King of Malaysia, HM Tuanku Mizan, himself an accomplished endurance rider, had the park as well as its stables, schooling areas, etc., created to encourage development of the sport.

It is one of only two such specialized facilities in the world.


To ensure that the best in the world competed at this event, the King paid all expenses for the 133 competitors, from air passage to accommodations and food, for both two-and four-legged participants.

Also, each country was allowed to send a veterinarian and a Chef d'Equip as well as two support staff for each rider and horse -- a very large contingent indeed.

As anyone who travels will attest to, there are always problems along the way, the SNAFUs of travel if you will, and this trip was no exception for Wendy and Mariah.

It was timed so that the Canadian team would arrive a couple of weeks early, giving them ample opportunity to acclimate themselves and their horses. A case of "misinformation" regarding the timing of a West Nile booster resulted in Mariah's papers being rejected two days before departure. Trying to reschedule another flight 15 days later, followed by a one-day delay in transport time, resulted in Mariah arriving only five days before the competition. In true Arab fashion he arrived full of beans, apparently walking his handlers everywhere when he disembarked.

After a couple of days to settle in and some hand walking, he and Wendy started night time rides and were deemed fit to start the championship race.

The 160-kilometer (100-mile) race was ridden the night of November 7, riders departing from the start gate at 5 p. m. and riding the seven LED colour-coded "loops" of the course, passing through the mandatory checkpoints at the end of each.


This is where the condition of the horses is checked by a full flight of vets and technicians: recovery rate, body temperature, pulse and respiration, as well as lameness and/or soreness, before they are permitted to continue on the next leg. As testament to the difficulty of this type of competition, 78 of the 133 who started were either eliminated, disqualified or voluntarily retired.

Canada was represented by Wendy on Mariah, along with six other riders and their horses, three competing as individuals and four as a team (best three times to count).

All but one finished the course, a member of the team, however as three still completed, their times counted and Team Canada placed seventh over all with a time of 38:25:45.


Wendy and Mariah finished 46th with an individual time of 13:08:21, an astounding effort considering their trials just getting there.

Talk about going against all the odds!

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