By Mitchelle Stephenson
While humans and horses have worked together for a couple of thousand years, and competitions involving humans and horses have been around for several hundred years, a sport called "endurance racing" is relatively new. It is basically a single-day ride of anywhere between 50 and 100 miles.
In the U.S., the "Tevis Cup" is one of the best known endurance rides. It follows the Western States Trail and was organized in 1955 by riders on the west coast. It is the premiere event in endurance racing in the United States.
For now though, an East Coast horse stands at the top of the field. Heraldic, an Arabian horse from West River's Long Run Farms stable just took home the silver medal at the Pan Am games. The endurance race was a 75-mile trek along the craggy shore of Chile in South America.
See Patch video: The horse and his trainer, John Crandell III were honored on Tuesday with a citation from Gov. Martin O'Malley and the "Touch of Class" award from the Maryland Horse Industry Board.
Heraldic and Crandell were at the top of their game in 2006, when they won the "triple crown" of endurance racing—the Tevis Cup, the Old Dominion 100 and the AERC Championship.
Then Heraldic was injured in a non-training incident. He was sidelined for two years. During part of that time, the horse could have no weight-bearing on his hind leg because of the injury to his stifle (the joint comparable to a human knee). For some horses, it might have been a career-ending, or even life-ending injury.
This year's Pan Am games ride for Heraldic was an astonishing comeback for the 13-year-old gelding.
"This is a magnificent horse and a magnificent family that has made great achievements on the international stage," Maryland Horse Industry Board vice chair Erin Pittman said at the awards ceremony in Annapolis."Heraldic is a world-class athlete who has overcome injuries that would have retired most other horses, and the Crandells are a family that have dedicated themselves to excellence in the equine industry."
The Pan Am games were held in October, but the horse was quarantined for seven days upon returning to the U.S.
Next up for the duo are training runs in the mountains and possibly a run for the U.S. Team in the World Endurance Championship in England in 2012. This event is held simultaneous to the 2012 Olympic games.
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