Monday, July 05, 2010

WEG Regional U.S. Endurance Team Selection Trials Held

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by: Marsha Hayes
July 05 2010, Article # 16594

The quality and depth of the horses and riders vying for the five coveted spots on the United States endurance team for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrain Games were made apparent after three regional selection trials held June 20-28. "We identified some very good horses," noted Chef d'Equipe Becky Hart, three-time World Endurance Champion.

The trials, held in Fairhill, Md., Danville, Ill., and Prineville, Ore., were all attended by the five selectors, a three-member veterinary panel, Hart, and Vonita Bowers, Director of Endurance and Reining Activities for the United States Equestrian Federation. The selection team is looking for horses capable of covering 100 miles in around eight hours, or less.

In her role as team leader, coach, and trainer, Hart has been studying workout logs and heart rate monitor printouts of the 50-60 candidate horses to help her organize them into compatible groups before sending them on loops of various lengths and speeds. The veterinary panel members Jim Bryant Jr., DVM, Dipl. ACVS; Todd Holbrook, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; and Duncan Peters, DVM, monitored the horses' soundness, hydration, and recovery times.

"Having a research interest in exercise physiology, I found the trials especially intriguing," said Holbrook. He is working on a future study on watering horses in extreme heat Fascinated by the different environmental factors found at the three locations, he is currently analyzing lab work on the horses. The heat indexes varied greatly between the Oregon and Illinois sites, with Maryland falling in the middle. Weather and the ability to manage horses under specific conditions could play a critical role in the event, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26 on the rolling hills of Lexington, Ky.

Unlike some countries with larger, more centralized endurance teams that train together, the USA hopefuls are scattered from coast to coast. The final trial to be held in Danville, Ill., Aug. 10 will bring together some of the best 100 mile equine athletes, to not only access individuals, but to see how they perform together since a team medal is an important USA goal, as well as an individual medal.

Following that trial, 10-12 horse and rider pairs will move to Kentucky for more training. On Sept. 21, five horses and five riders, and one alternate horse, will be chosen to compete for the United States in the 2010 WEG games.

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