Saturday, August 30, 2014

Great Britain: International horse event held at Yetholm - Full Article

The Haugh at Yetholm was abuzz recently as endurance riding’s home international saw competitors from all over the UK descend on the Borders.

Around 150 horses competed in various rides, including the two-day 160km, two-day 120km, 80km race ride, 60km race ride, 50km, 40km and 30km rides, and shorter pleasure rides.

The discipline sees the competitors complete the distances, having passed through ‘vet gates’ where horses’ heart rates and soundness are checked, before they are allowed to continue.

Scotland came second in the Celtic Challenge to Wales, third in the Home International behind England and Wales and won the best turnout.

Chef D’Equipe Nicky Bertham from St Boswells said: “All 14 riders in the Scotland team did a brilliant job over the weekend...

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Great Britain: Morgan and Kirsten to the fore in Cheshire - Full Article

Morgan Skillen and Kirstin Thom, both members of Mid Antrim Pony Club recently qualified to attend the Pony Club UK Championships at Cholmonodeley Castle, Cheshire in Endurance Riding.

Both girls qualified at the St Patrick’s Coast Ride in April this year and since then they have been training daily and attending Endurance Events in Enniskillen, Gosford, Glenariffe and Tardree Forests, in order to maintain their own stamina levels and their ponies fitness.

This equestrian discipline is rigorous, demanding and challenging. It requires dedication, many varieties of training and complete fitness of both pony and rider. Morgan and Kirstin need to understand the silent language of their ponies as any subtle change can make a big difference to the end result.

After all the blood, sweat, tears and dedicated relentless training it all came together perfectly at the Championships and Morgan Skillen on Mayo enjoyed an impressive win to take the first placed Individual title...

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Yamamah flies to gold for Sheikh Hamdan

Dirk Caremans image

29 Aug 2014
By Kate Green

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum (UAE) and the outstanding mare Yamamah, means “little dove” in Arabic, led from the start to finish to win the individual gold medal at a challenging Endurance competition in Sartilly at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 to take over the world title from his father, Sheikh Mohammed.

European Champion Jaume Punti Dachs (ESP) finished fifth on Novisaad d’Aqui and led home his jubilant compatriots Jordi Arboix Santacreu, sixth on Mystair des Aubus, and Cervera Sanchez-Arnedo (Strawblade, 22nd) to take team gold.

There was much national excitement when the home side, France, took silver, with Jean-Philippe Frances (Secret de Mon), Franck Laousse (Niky de la Fontaine) and Nicolas Ballarin (Lemir de Gargassan) finishing eighth, 11th and 12th respectively.

The Swiss trio of Barbara Lissarrague on Preume de Paute, fourth individually, Sonja Fritschi (Okkarina d’Alsace) and Andrea Amacher (Rustik d’Alsace) claimed team bronze.

The Netherlands’ Marijke Visser (NED) was visibly thrilled with second place and an individual silver medal with the UAE-owned grey gelding Laiza de Jalima. Qatari rider Abdulrahman Saad AS Al Sulaiteen and Koheilan Kincso also finished strongly to take bronze ahead of Swiss rider Barbara Lissarrague on Preume de Paute.

“This event really deserved the title of World Championships today,” said Brian Sheehan, Chair of the FEI Endurance Committee, who praised the effectiveness of the new monitoring measures. “There has been a great deal of sportsmanship and co-operation with riders. It’s been a world-class event that I am proud to be associated with.”

A combination of changeable weather and footing conditions, plus stringent veterinary procedures whittled the field down to 38 finishers. Brian Sheahan felt that the low number of finishers proved the veterinary protocols in place to protect horse welfare were working.

“This was a World Equestrian Games and the course was extremely technical and extremely challenging,” he said. “The weather made it even tougher and the vets were extremely careful to ensure that the horses were protected at all times, meaning that the number of finishers was unexpectedly low for a championship.”

A spectacular mass of 165 riders representing a record 47 nations set off in a damp, muddy dawn, but midday sun turning the slippery ground to a holding consistency, and the Ground Jury, which had already removed the minimum speed of 15 kilometres per hour for the first two loops, then reduced the minimum speed to 14kph for loops three to five to allow horses to take their time on the course.

In another change to the format, this year there were five loops (of 37.9 kilometres, 35.8km, 32.8km, 33.1km and 20.4km) instead of six. Riders had to cope with ever-changing terrain, including wet sand on the second 35.8km loop which attracted crowds of spectators as horses traversed the beautiful bay of Mont St Michel.

The UAE team set the early pace and dominated the first two loops, but by the end of the third loop only Sheikh Hamdan and the quality Australian-bred bay mare Yamamah (formerly Kurrajong Concorde), winner of the Open European title last year with Sheikh Hamdan’s brother Sheikh Rashid, was left in the competition.

The duo, who won the 120km CEI at Windsor (GBR) in May, had the course to themselves for much of the day and returned home to massive cheers from a hugely supportive crowd.

Last year’s world number one in Endurance, Sabrina Arnold (GER), withdrew Saltan during the first loop and the defending World Equestrian Games champion, Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton, had a fall with Qualif du Poncelet on the third loop.

Isha Judd (URG) suffered a broken femur in a fall and Alberto Morales Morales (CRC) was taken to hospital complaining of neck pain after the first loop.

Tragically, the Costa Rican horse Dorado, ridden by Claudio Romero Chacon, died instantly of a head injury after striking a tree at the side of the track in a forested area on the first loop, shortly after 08.30. The rider was in a serious but stable condition this evening after undergoing surgery for fractures and internal injuries.

“Our thoughts are with Claudia Chacon Romero, who is currently recovering in hospital post-surgery, and the connections of Dorado, who sadly died in a tragic accident today,” Brian Sheahan said. “Our hearts go out to them.”

There were no other serious injuries to any horses.

Photoset: Endurance at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy - Full Article

A scenic but rain-soaked course prevented most starters from completing the challenging ride.
By Lesley Ward | August 29, 2014

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum of the United Arab Emerites and Yamamah were the first combination to cross the finish line of the grueling 100-mile endurance course near Sartilly, France, on Thursday, Aug. 28. The young sheikh and his tough 15-year-old Arabian mare held the lead from start to finish. Several days of rain in the area off the northwest French coast resulted in sticky mud and deep going on the course, and although 166 competitors began the course, only 35 finished. Sheikh Hamdan completed the course in 8:08:28, more than 10 minutes faster than his closest competitor, Marijka Visser of the Netherlands riding Laiza de Jalima. Qater’s Abdulrahman Saad Al Sulaiteen and Koheilan Kinsco took the bronze medal. On the team front, Spain took gold, France silver and Switzerland bronze...

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New Zealand's Latta forced out of endurance race as horse throws shoe - Full Article

30 August 2014

Otago endurance rider Susie Latta was one of many - make that most - who did not see the finish line at the endurance race at the World Equestrian Games in France.

The 160km race was one of mass attrition as most riders found the course and the conditions very tough.

Latta, of Nenthorn Valley, was one of five New Zealand riders in the endurance event, on a tricky track near Normandy.

The gruelling marathon course featured five looped circuits stretching from the Lucerne Forest to the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.

The conditions were very wet and none of the New Zealand riders finished the event.

Latta, on her horse Tkiwa, started off well but Tkiwa threw a shoe in the second loop and was inspected by a veterinarian and ruled out of the race...

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Canadian Endurance Team Races Through the Trenches - Full Article

August 29 2014

Equine Canada Communications - One hundred and sixty-five horse-and-rider combinations, representing 42 nations, set off on the five-loop, 160 km endurance race across the coast of Sartilly, FRA on August 28. With unfavourable weather conditions the trails turned to mud trenches sinking a foot deep causing issues on course. Canadians took on the race with a strategic plan and several tactics to approach the race technically.

Reflecting on the race day, Chef d'Equipe Maura Leahy remarked, "We came into this event expecting to have four personal bests. So it was disappointing having not completed, but that is a part of Endurance. Everybody, the riders, crews and officials have done a wonderful job getting the horses through the loops. We are glad to have four healthy and happy horses and humans."

Leading the Canadians was Jessica Manness of Dugald, BC and Greater Glide (Flaming Tigre X Flaming Streak), her 13-year-old Arabian gelding. They completed four loops in 9:58:40 staying at a consistent pace. At the end of the fourth loop Manness entered the veterinary inspection. It was determined that the horses may have some electrolyte imbalances earning a ME veterinary check code meaning the horse has a metabolic concern. After further testing and treatment for the decreased electrolytes in the veterinary clinic Greater Glide was released with a clean bill of health.

"We were in the middle of the pack to start which is where I wanted to be," commented Manness. "Before we started I set all the times I wanted to achieve and I stayed on them until our last loop. The trail was harder than I had anticipated. It was muddy and had a lot of hills across the in-lands. The second loop was mostly on the beach and on the asphalt roads. My immediate concern was how the hard ground would impact my horse, but he isn't showing any signs of soreness which is good..."

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2014 WEG: Best Condition for Laiza de Jalima

Sindy Thomas photo

Friday 29 August 2014 - 18h30

The Best Condition Award was given to Laiza de Jalima, Marijke Visser’s mare. The horse and rider finished second in the individual Endurance competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy.

"She’s a little mare, a tiny one in fact, but absolutely a joy to ride, very courageous and capable of big results”, the Dutch rider said after the awards ceremony, which was held in front of a jammed-packed D'Ornano Stadium. Born in France to owner Jean-Claude Guillaume, a few kilometers from Monaco, the mare, sired by Ismael d'Aubanel, was sent to the United Arab Emirates just before turning seven years old. Her preparation for the Games, however, took place in Belgium.

World Equestrian Games: Shaikh Hamdan strikes gold in France

WAM Photo - Full Article

Dubai Crown Prince emulates success of his brother in 2002 with endurance success

By Leslie Wilson Jr
Racing & Special Features Writer
Published: 21:27 August 28, 2014

Normandy, France: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, scaled the summit of his sport to win the individual gold medal in the endurance event at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, on Thursday.

Riding 2013 European Open Champion Yamamah, Shaikh Hamdan secured his place among endurance riding’s elite with a domineering performance over a challenging 160-kilometre course to win in eight hours, eight minutes and 28 seconds.
Dutch rider Marike Visser finished a competitive second in a time of 08:19.17s.

Shaikh Hamdan’s success was the UAE’s second gold in the event after his brother Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE National Olympic Committee, became the youngest champion and first Arab to win a gold medal at the World Equestrian Games when successful at Jerez, Spain, in 2002...

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Sheikh Hamdan wins endurance gold at World Equestrian Games

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed on Yamamah in Normandy, western France. Ian Kangsdon / EPA - Full Article

Amith Passela
August 28, 2014

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed produced a riding masterclass on Yamamah to win the endurance gold medal at the Altech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy on Thursday.

The Dubai Crown Prince battled through rain and muddy conditions after his four teammates fell out of contention in one go at the end of the third loop, finishing first in a field of 173 riders from 47 nations.

Sheikh Hamdan completed the gruelling, 160-kilometre trip in 8 hours, 8 minutes and 28 seconds, then had to spend some anxious moments until the 15-year-old bay mare cleared the final veterinary test and the celebration began in the UAE camp. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who attended the race, was full of praise for his son.

“I used to give them [the UAE riders] instructions and advise during the races, but I have stopped that now, because they are now well-versed and very experienced riders and can read the situation of the race,” Sheikh Mohammed told TV cameras afterward.

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Postcard: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Endurance - Full Article

Time for a field trip from Caen to a beautiful and quaint section of France about 90 minutes away in Sartilly, where the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games endurance race was held.

By Nancy Jaffer | Aug 28, 2014

August 28, 2014 -- I didn't go to the WEG endurance championship for the competition; I went for the scenary. The drawing card was being able to photograph horses against the backdrop of Mont Saint-Michel, one of France's most famous landmarks. It's an eighth-century island fortress, a little more than a half-mile off the coast, topped by a monastery and an abbey. Below them are shops, restaurants and housing for the 44 residents.

Truth be told, the commercial area is basically a tourist trap, but the structure is so lovely that it is wonderful to look at, especially from a distance, where its statuesque beauty really can be appreciated.

Two loops of the endurance race were run on and near the beach, with Mont Saint-Michel as a backdrop. People turned out to see the horses canter across the sand, just a few feet from them. It was cool to look up on the dunes and see that someone brought several horses to watch.

The endurance mounts provided a contrast to the painstaking turnout of the dressage horses I've been writing about for the last three days. It ranges from scrappy to utilitarian, with tack to match. This is no pleasure ride; they're going 100 miles and doing it fast to get the medals. Unlike the dressage warmbloods, these horses are mostly Arabians or half-Arabs, without an extra ounce of fat on them. Some, frankly, look skinny.

- See more at:

WEG Endurance: A tough day at the office - Full Article

By Neil Clarkson on Aug 29, 2014 in Featured, Focus, WEG 2014

The FEI has been singing the praises of its world championship endurance race in Normandy, but I’m yet to be convinced that everyone will see it that way.

No doubt the views of the competitors will emerge over the next few days, but certainly there are questions swirling around a race in which only 38 of 174 competitors finished.

That’s 174 of the world’s elite endurance horses and 174 of the finest riders, competing in a race in which only 22.4 percent of them finished...

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UAE wins WEG endurance gold; 136 in field eliminated

By on Aug 29, 2014

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum led all the way to win the 160km endurance contest at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France, riding the Australian-bred mare Yamamah in a race where only 22% of starters completed the race.

Just 38 horses from the 174 starters finished. Only three countries had the minimum of three riders in contention by the end of the race.

Twenty horses failed to complete the first loop, which was marred by the death of Costa Rican horse Dorada, who hit a tree in an accident 13.6km into the first loop and about 400m from the first check point.

[Read More ...]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

2014 WEG: Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade Lone USA Finishers

August 28 2014

In a WEG with difficult weather and footing, the USA was only able to finish one horse and rider in the Endurance Championship. Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade - the Team Alternate who was moved up to starting position the day before the race, due to Meg Sleeper's Syrocco Reveille being a little off during the trot out - finished 31st in 10:46:16.

US Equine Athletes Association released this statement: "Sadly we must report that the US Team was unable to deliver the performance it had worked so hard to achieve at the WEG 2014. Disappointment is an understatement. A full analysis will be forthcoming in a few days. In short the trail was slippery, challenging to say the least…

"Chances ridden by Heather Reynolds, Gold Dust Rising ridden by Jeremy Reynolds, and Hot Desert Knight ridden by Ellen Rapp Olson, were pulled for metabolic issues. All three are fine post ride, with no serious after effects. Kelsey Russell’s mount, My Wild Irish Gold was slightly off at the trot out after loop two and did not pass the vet gate. We thank our riders, horse owners, supporters and our Chef d’Quippe for their continued support and commitment to US Endurance."

2014 WEG: Dutch investment in Endurance pays off

Thursday 28 August 2014 - 20h21

For the first time Dutch riders formed a team for Endurance at the Word Equestrian Games and the harvest looks promising in form of  the country’s first individual silver.

“Endurance is a very small discipline in Holland and we have spent a lot of time and investment on the sport”, said Theo Ploegmakers, president of the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation when watching his riders briefly resting before going onto the final loop to complete the 160 kilometer ride.

Ploegmakers described the Dutch investment as “taking care of the right promotion for the sport to win over more young riders and making sure they find good trainers and good horses.”

At Sartilly Dutch Marijke Visser showed what happens when the classical way of riding meets Arab horses. Her grey mare Laiza de Jalima flew over Normandy soil like an eventing horse. The ten year old mare is owned by Dubai’s sheik Abdulla Bin Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qassimi and trained in Holland. Ploegmakers is pleased abut this Europe-meets-Arabia combination: “That is the future of the sport, having good riders looking for good horses.” Twenty-one year old Marijke Visser won a young riders’ endurance world championship 2013 and rides dressage. “That is why she is such a good role model for us”, Ploegmakers said. Visser is a student, but at the moment focussing on her riding. To get ready for the World Equestrian Games she and mare Laiza moved to the Belgian Ardennes to train with the Belgian chef of the Dutch Equipe, Emile Docquier. 

Endurance at WEG 2014 played right in Ploegmakers cards. He thinks the pictures transmitted via TV of endurance riders on the beach with Normandy’s icon of Mt St. Michel in the background were “exceptional promotion for the sport.”

2014 WEG: Endurance team gold for Spain

Thursday 28 August 2014 - 22h05

The Endurance team decision at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 was a story of endurance, indeed. Over very heavy footing Spain won gold with three riders left in contention after a total riding time of 28:56:02. France rode to silver in 29:08:44. Three riders defended the medal from Lexington 2014, following 12:42 minutes behind Spain and overtaking Switzerland on 29:42.54.

Veteran Jaume Punti Dachs (45), endurance trainer for the Newmarket based stable of Sheik Mohammed’s Darley stud,  led the Spanish team riders Jordi Arboix Santacreu and Javier Cervera Sanchez-Arnedo. Punti Dachs’s wife Maria Alvarez Ponton could not defend her individual title from Lexington 2010. She retired on the course.

Experienced Jean-Philippe Frances, riding the youngest horse on the French team showed the way to Denis Le Guillou and Robin Cornely.  He rode the course in 8:12:37.  

The Swiss team’s bronze is the second team success after silver in Aachen 2006.  Claude Nordmann, Chef de Mission for the Swiss Team, gave all the credit to Barbara Lissarrague, finishing fourth individually. “She has done her utmost for the team. They all rode together after we had lost the first two riders of five rather early on the course.” Lissarrague led team mates Sonja Fritschi and Andrea Amacher towards the finish line in Sartilly.

Due to very difficult footing following heavy rains the attrition rate of the Normandy 2014 competition was high, leaving only three teams with three riders in contention.

The individual medals went to Sheik Hamdan bin Mohamed Al Maktoum, who rode his mare Yamamah over 160 kilometres in a total riding time of 8:08:28. He achieved an average speed of 19.678, way over the minimum average that had been lowered to 14 km/h. Twenty-one year old Marijke Visser and Laiza de Jalima fetched the first ever Dutch Endurance medal in a riding time of 19.258. Bronze went to Qatari Abdulrahman Saad A.S.Al Sulaiteen, riding Koheilan Kincso 37:16 minutes behind the winner.

If possible, an extra gold medal could have gone to the public, following the riders all the way along the 160 kilometres around the Bay of the Normanic icon Mont St.Michel. Many riders commented on the positive reactions and support they had received on their enduring test.

2014 WEG Endurance: UAE wins individual Gold; Spain wins Team Gold

August 28 2014

UAE's HE Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum won the Endurance CHampionship at the 2014 WOrld Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. He rode 15-year-ld Yamamah to an 8:08.28 finish time for the 160-km challenging, slippery course. Rider Jean Phillippe Frances (who finished XX) said, "The first two loops were terrible."

The Netherlands' Marijke Visser surprised almost everybody with her 2nd place finish, barely 11 minutes behind the winner, earning the Dutch their first Silver medal in endurance. Visser rode Laiza de Jalima, a 10-year-old mare owned by Dubai’s Sheik Abdulla Bin Faisal Bin Saqr Al Qassimi and trained in Holland.

Qatar's Abdulrahman Saad A.S. Al Sulaiteen, riding Koheilan Kincso finished 3rd in 8:56.23.

Spain won Team Gold, the French won Team Silver, and Switzerland won Team Bronze. Due to the difficult course conditions, only 3 teams had 3 riders in contention for team medals.

The pull rate was rather dismal: 38 finishers/166 starters = 22.8%.

2014 WEG: Conditions Improve during Endurance Race

Thursday 28 August 2014 - 16h58

Halfway during the day ground conditions on the Endurance track of the World Equestrian Games championship in Sartilly/ France were improving. 

“It is getting better,” reported Jean-Philippe Frances after passing the third loop, getting ready for two more to go. “The first two loops were terrible”, the most experienced French rider said. Frances came fourth in the individual ranking at Lexington 2010, winning the best condition award. For Normandy2014 he is putting faith in his anglo arab gelding Secret De Mon Coeur, who is the youngest horse in the French team.

2014 WEG Live Endurance Update: Bronze title defenders Germany out of the race

Sartilly, France--Aug. 28

Thursday 28 August 2014 - 14h50

That was a short hundred miles for the defending bronze title holders from Germany at the Endurance race of the World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy. After completing 73 kilometres the team was already destroyed, leaving only one of the five riders in competition.

Sabrina Arnold, vice European champion, was the first victim. Her horse Saltan developed metabolic problems and she decided to go straight to her own veterinary doctor  instead of presenting for official inspection. Jenny Stemmler’s horse Radja D’Aurabelle took a wrong step on the road and fell lame while Nabab La Majorie for Belinda Hitzler had too high a pulse. Senior team rider Dr. Gabriela Förster (56) withdrew Priceless Gold voluntarily. “I knew that it would be difficult and tough. It is better not to continue.” Sabrina Arnold’s older sister Melanie is the last one standing from the team at Lexington 2010. Heavy rainfall over days before the competition had influenced the footing, forcing the horses through deep mud. The organizers responded by lowering the average speed from 15 to 14 kilometres per hour.

2014 WEG Live Endurance Update: Costa Rican horse and rider suffer fall

Sartilly, France--Aug. 28 - 10h43

Costa Rican combination Claudia Romero Chacon and Dorado suffered a fall during the first loop of the endurance competition of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games shortly after 8:30 a.m. local time. The pair fell 400 meters before the first checkpoint on course, and the horse was fatally injured in the fall. The rider was also injured but was conscious when she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

An update on Romero's condition will be provided as soon as it's available.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale released the following statement:
"The FEI has conducted an immediate investigation into the circumstances of this tragic accident and the investigation shows that the horse struck a tree at the side of the track in a forested area. The horse sustained a head injury and died instantly. There are no signs that the horse slipped prior to the impact."

Conditions in Sartilly are muddy thanks to wet weather over the last week.

Romero and Dorado finished third in April at the Canas CEI*** (Costa Rica). Dorado (Siroko--Catrina, Rey Mago), owned by Jorge Eduardo Vargas Jenkins, was 12.

Bahrain riders ready for world endurance

August 27 2014

SUPREME Council for Youth and Sports Chairman and Bahrain Olympic Committee President Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa will lead some of Bahrain's finest riders at the World Endurance Ride Championship, to be held tomorrow at Normandy, France.

The championship, which consists of five races over 160km, will see riders from 47 countries. The Bahrain team members are lined up in all five rides.

Shaikh Nasser will lead the Bahrain Royal Endurance team which consists of Shaikh Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Raed Mahmood, Jaffar Merza and Isa Bu Hazza.

The event will take place at the area which saw historical events during World War 2.

Read more here:

Oman’s riders gear up for Endurance Cup

August 27 2014

Normandy: Oman's endurance team is participating in the World Cup finals of endurance, being held in the French city of Normandy.

Forty-nine countries are participating in the tournament. While 34 countries will compete in the team category, 15 will compete in the individual category. As many as 348 horses will participate, with five riders for each team.

The Sultanate's participation in the World Cup finals of endurance comes as part of the World Equestrian Games, which will have the participation of 60 countries, competing in eight events.

It is the Sultanate's first participation in the World Equestrian Games.

Global event
Sayyid Monther bin Saif bin Hamad Al Busaidi, chairman of Oman Equestrian Federation said that the World Equestrian Games, which began on Wednesday, is a prestigious global event and Oman's team is taking part in the tournament for this reason.

The Omani riders seek to repeat the achievement of the Royal Cavalry in the World Cup 2012 in Britain when they won the third place and the bronze medal.

2014 WEG: New format will test horse and rider - Full Article

Endurance competition is the biggest in the history of the World Equestrian Games

By Leslie Wilson Jr, Racing & Special Features Writer
Published: 19:29 August 27, 2014

Dubai: The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) has developed a new format and measures that will both test the riders and also improve the welfare of endurance horses when the marathon event takes place on Thursday.

Held over 160km, the endurance ride is one of the biggest events at the World Equestrian Games, which are currently taking place in Normandy, France.

More than 1,000 riders and horses from over 70 countries are competing at the two-week extravaganza including first-timers from Peru, Palestine and Kazakhstan.

The endurance competition, which is the biggest in the history of the event, is attracting a lot of attention.

A total of 260 riders representing 49 countries will be seen in action, among them past winners, new riders, old horses and new horses...

Read more here:

Rain test awaits UAE endurance team in Normandy - Full Article

Endurance trainer Esmail Mohammad hopes hard work will pay off

By Leslie Wilson Jr, Racing & Special Features Writer
Published: 18:27 August 27, 2014

Dubai: Endurance trainer Esmail Mohammad expects the hard work put in by the UAE team during the summer to pay off when the five-member squad compete in the gruelling showpiece event at the FEI Alltech Equestrian Games at Normany on Thursday.

Led by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the defending champions take on some of the world’s best endurance riders in the 160 metre event, which for the first time, will be held over five loops.

Mohammad understands that it takes more than just practice to excel at this level of competition and is also hoping that the individual horse skills of each rider will hold them in good stead.

“The team have been practicing very hard all summer, at various endurance sites across Europe,” he told Gulf News. “The acclimatisation is important but nothing can prepare you for the conditions that you will encounter on the day of the ride...

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

USA Team Starters for 2014 WEG Endurance Championship

August 27 2014

After today's veterinary inspections in Normandy, France, the final USA Team has been announced. They are:

Heather Reynolds on Chanses
Ellyn Olson on Hot Desert Knight
Jeremy Reynolds on Gold Dust Rising
Kelsey Russell on My Wild Irish Gold
Jeremy Olson on Wallace Hill Shade

Alternate Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade moved up to starting position when Meg Sleeper's Syrocco Reveille passed the vet inspection but showed a lameness for part of the trot out.

USA Chef d'Equipe Emmett Ross said, "After careful consideration, the team Vet, Chef d'Equipe and Selector, have decided to substitute Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade for WEG 2014. We share in Meg's deep disappointment and appreciate her continued commitment to team success. We thank Meg, her crew and supporters for all they have done and will continue to do to help the US Team, on race day, August 28."

Meg commented, "There are times that are difficult and painful, but the good times far outweigh the bad ones." She'll be crewing for the US Team and sending updates if possible (Wifi is sketchy at the venue.)

Starting time for tomorrow's 160-km race is 7 AM in Normandy; 2 AM (tonight) eastern, 1 AM central, 12 midnight mountain, and 11 PM pacific.

Follow the race here:

Kiwi Endurance Team Looking Strong at WEG

Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 4:50 pm
Press Release: Equestrian Sports New Zealand

New Zealand's endurance riders will have a world-famous back-drop for their 160km race at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France on Thursday (France time).

One of the five loops of the race, takes competitors past Mont Saint-Michel, one of France's most iconic landmarks and a world heritage site.

Lining up for New Zealand in the one day marathon are mother and daughter Andrea and Georgia Smith (Mangaweka), Alison Higgins (Nelson), who makes her second WEG team, Braden Cameron (Wellington) and Susie Latta (Otago).

The Smiths are the first such combination to represent the sport at an equestrian championship together, and at 17 years old, Georgia is believed to be the youngest ever.

Andrea Smith rode the test event at the Sartilly venue last year, gathering vital intel for the team.

“It is not going to be a straight foot race in Normandy, which is great for teams like us,” says endurance chef d'equipe Tony Parsons (Taupo). “It’s going to require a lot of mental toughness.”

There was plenty of rain when the team arrived at the endurance stables on Monday, but that didn't bother Parsons.

“This is endurance riding,” he says. “It rains . . . we just get on with it.”

He says the horses have all travelled extremely well and the few weeks the team has had at their Brittany base has been hugely beneficial to them all.

“We're in as good a shape as we could be,” he says. “Anything can happen on the day, and we are well prepared for that.”

The 160 km race will be run over five loops, instead of the usual six, at Sartilly – which is situated just over 100 kms from the main games venue in Caen. It has attracted 173 entries from 47 nations

The Smiths are not the only family combination in the event – six other teams boast similar connections.

The race starts at 7am on Thursday (France time) and horses will be checked by vets at the end of each loop. Organisers say it is one of the most technical courses in recent championship history. Loop one, La Lucerne, is 37.9km long and stretches to the north of the venue. Loop two, Avranches, is 35.8km long, and includes the stunning bay with the incredible backdrop of Mont Saint-Michel. Champeaux, the third loop, is 32.8km long and covers ground to the west of the venue. The penultimate loop, Jullouville, is 33.1km long while the final loop, Dragey, is the shortest at just 20.4km long, stretching out to the south-west of the venue.

The age span of entrants is impressive, with 72-year-old Rouslan Gekiev (Russia) the oldest and 14-year-old Constanza Laliscia (Italy) the youngest.

Organisers are expecting the endurance event to be one of the closet contests in years, and no-one is discounting New Zealand.

The Fact Box

• The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games run from August 23 – September 7 in France.

• New Zealand will be represented by teams in endurance (Aug 28), eventing (Aug 28-31) and vaulting (Sept 2-5), and individuals in para-dressage (Aug 25-29) and showjumping (Sept 2-7).

• WEG is held every four years in different locations.

• A record 76 countries are expected to take part, making it the world’s largest equestrian sport event which includes 1000 competitors.

• More than 500,000 people are expected to attend over the two weeks.

• For more information, head to .

2014 WEG: Notes from Becky Pearman

August 27 2014

Photographer Becky Pearman has kindly agreed to share her observations with us as she follows the USA Endurance team around Normandy as they prepare for the August 28th race.

She shared some images of the area, and of the USA Team as excitement builds around the horses arriving at the venue stables:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UAE endurance squad gear up to defend title - Full Article

Shaikh Hamdan leads five-strong squad in showpice event at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

By Leslie Wilson Jr
Racing & Special Features Writer
Published: 19:01 August 26, 2014
Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE endurance team faces its first test of reckoning on Thursday when it defends its title at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France.

Significant interest has centered on the 160 metres marathon which has attracted a record 170 riders from 48 nations.

The UAE return as defending champion having won the gold at the 2010 WEG Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.

Led by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the five-member squad also includes Shaikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri and Saeed Mohammad Khalfan Al Mehairi.

France Rates Chances in WEG Endurance Contest - Full Article

The home team of France is among the favourites for the 160km endurance competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and its riders took to the sandy Kairon beach on Monday as they work to peak their horses for Thursday’s contest.

The race will start from Sartilly and will feature five loops, which is slightly different for a modern race. For French team rider Jean-Philippe Frances, having five instead of six loops will add some extra excitement...

Read more here:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Canadian Endurance Riders and Horses En Route to France

And they’re off – to THE race! The challenge for the Canadian Equestrian Endurance Team will be to navigate 160 kms/100 miles of Normandy countryside as quickly and safely as possible, competing against approximately 260 riders from 49 nations from around the world – a record. The race will be held in Sartilly (Bay of Mont St Michel) on Thursday, August 28th, as part of the World Equestrian Games.

Leanna Marchant, from Calgary, discovered the sport of Endurance while living in Australia, and upon returning to Canada continued to pursue distance riding with her aptly-named ‘little iron horse’, Samsons Fire. Together they have garnered many top honours. While the other Team horses will depart Canada on the 19th, Leanna and Sam have been in France for a couple of weeks, staying at Longues sur Mer Maryse et Jean-Pierre, “2km from the ocean so Sam can see waves!” “I have always wanted to represent my country and to do so with my partner, Sam, is amazing. To also help in promoting a sport which I find is the most natural for a horse and places the horse first in welfare is a bonus! Everyone should experience the incredible bond that develops with your horse doing all these miles in all terrain and weather. It is like nothing else.”

Kathy Irvine, with ‘riding roots’ in the Saskatchewan and Alberta prairie landscape, is partnered with an Arabian mare, Nightwind’s Savanah: “just enough of a (w)itch to be great”. This will be Kathy’s first experience as a rider at a WEG, but she has attended other major international competitions in various capacities as support crew. To Kathy, attending this WEG “means the culmination of 26 years of learning from my mentors, my horses, and from hard knocks. I would hardly dare to say I dreamed of this day, but in a corner of my mind I believed if I worked toward this goal the worst that could happen is that I would succeed. It means having the exquisite honour of being counted among the best Endurance riders and horses in the world. It’s a profound privilege to be finally competing with the best riders, crews, officials and veterinarians in Canada, and for Canada on a world class level.”

Jessica Manness, then a recreational rider, living in Thompson, MB, learned about the sport nearly a decade ago. Today, with her top horse, Greater Glider, Jessica is currently ranked as Number One in Canada and 13th in the FEI ranking world-wide. Outside of competition, Jessica is truly immersed in the equestrian community on all fronts: operating a boarding facility, distributing farm and horse supplies, hosting clinics to provide guidance for potential horse owners, and sitting on both provincial and national boards. “I’m really proud to be doing it. It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s been at least four years of building and building up from that. The trail is set up like the Tour de France where you go right through the middle of town, you go across bridges, and people have horns and streamers and stuff and they are all screaming from the sidelines. Glider’s not really used to that so that will probably be our biggest challenge.”

Yvette Vinton, a veterinarian by profession, loves this sport, and her life revolves around it, as her record clearly dictates; she has completed over forty 100 mile races and over 14,000 miles of competition. ‘Endurance’ has taken her around the globe: Dubai, Malaysia, France, Spain, United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile – competing in World Equestrian Games, World Endurance Championships, Pan American and National Championships. Yvette will be riding a leased horse in France. WEG “will be a true test of team work between rider and horse (the trail will have some technical challenges - not just a flat race) and of staying safe at the start with 200 + riders all starting at the same time. Nothing could be a greater than being chosen as a Canadian Team Member to meet and compete with the world’s greatest Endurance equestrians – and a chance to meet and see the world’s best equestrians in ALL disciplines. This will be the most exciting 2 weeks of my life!

Team riders and horses will be accompanied and very ably supported by Team Canada Chef d’Equipe Maura Leahy, Team Canada Veterinarian Glenn Sinclair DVM and assistant Team Veterinarians Roxy Bell DVM and Dave Bell DVM. Maura explained: “We are on the final stretch to the 2014 WEG. Leanna and Sam are already in France, and Jessica & Glider and Kathy & Vanna are on their way today. Yvette’s Petit Loup d’Jolie, who is already in France, is waiting to welcome everyone to his home country. We have 4 absolutely incredible riders and horses combinations, along with an equally incredible support team consisting of 16 Grooms, Team Veterinarian, 2 Assistant Team Veterinarians, EC Discipline Manager and Chef – together we are going to be doing great things at the 2014 WEG Endurance race. We also have the support of the whole Canadian Equestrian Team (CET).” Glenn Sinclair, Team Canada Veterinarian, agreed: “We have a very strong team so stay tuned!”

‘Stay tuned’ before, during and after the race by following along on the Endurance Canada International Facebook page. Full biographies on our riders can be found on the Endurance Canada International page on the Equine Canada website. GO CANADA!!

4 Days till the 2014 WEG: Update from Meg Sleeper

August 24 2014

Six am came very early this
morning!! We spent most of it doing photographs of riders, riders with
horses, riders, horses and teams, etc. dressed in various donated
garb. It further emphasized how fabulous our supporters have been!!
Thank you again and again!!! We got done around noon and went riding
at the track and there was more bottle hand off practice (now with the
professional photographers), so hopefully there will be some good
pictures circulating from that session. For a late lunch, we stopped
by our new (as of today) favorite café in Genet (it is our second time
there, but the waitress is really lovely and we learned today that she
and her mother run it together). Jim also joined us for lunch and somehow it came up that our waitress is also a massage therapist. When Jim, with his dry sense of humor, asked if her hands were strong enough (she probably weighs 110 pounds soaking wet), she immediately replied “Wanna find out?” :)

We took Rev for a hand walk down to the beach late this afternoon. We finally got the trail map today and it looks like the trail will again run down along this section of beach (although in the opposite direction). I wanted to get a good look at the footing in the area although it’s still not possible to know exactly where they will mark the trail. Many, many local people and tourists are out walking or biking in this region that is a big vacation area, and several stopped to talk with us as we walked along with Rev, like a big dog. One gentleman who lives locally spoke with us for some time describing the duck blinds along the beech (I hadn’t noticed the ducks were decoys although we hear shots being fired every morning and we knew it was duck hunting). He also told us that they have had a lot more rain than normal and last month the entire beech was underwater. I can only imagine the anxiety of the organizing committee knowing that nearly 200 horses would be soon coming for an event and they didn’t have trail! He also said that the locals believe that if you can clearly see the Mont and Tombelaine (the other island in the bay), bad weather is coming. It was crystal clear this evening, which fits because they are calling for rain all day tomorrow, most days this week, and the day of the ride. I expect the organizers must still be pretty anxious because we have heard they are already re-routing trail because of mud. We were also stopped by three older people, whom did not speak any English, but were curious about Rev’s fly mask. I couldn’t remember the French word for “fly”, if I ever knew it, and we were left trying to pantomime a fly and explain sunburn (it is a long mask to protect her white nose from sunburning) with the only relevant word I remembered being “soleil” for “sun”. I think it worked…at least they were very nice when we parted so I don’t think I said anything terrible.

I am going to include some images I got from the opening ceremonies
as well as from our walk this afternoon to give you an idea of this
section of trail (and the duck decoys). Obviously the sections along
the coast are flat other than the dunes (some areas remind of grass
plains and they are actually called the “salt flats”, but some
sections are just like sandy beach). The sections of trail that are
inland are rolling with terrain very similar to Fair Hill, MD or
Lexington, KY.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 WEG: Let the Games begin!

24 Aug 2014

A parade of athletes from the 74 participating nations, an incredible musical and hi-tech lightshow extravaganza featuring over 100 horses, the Garde Républicaine and giant Mexican waves entertained a sellout crowd of 21,000 for the Opening Ceremony of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy at the D’Ornano Stadium last night.

FEI President HRH Princess Haya and Laurent Beauvais, President of the Games Organising Committee and President of the Lower Normandy Region, welcomed athletes, officials, sponsors, spectators and media to Normandy for two weeks of world class equestrian sport in the heart of horse country.

Laurent Beauvais spoke warmly of the 3,000 volunteers that will be working at the venues to optimise the Games experience, and many of them had the opportunity to parade in front of the spectators as part of tonight’s ceremony.

“We have brought together 3,000 smiles to welcome you; 3,000 sets of open arms,” Laurent Beauvais said. “The volunteers bind our organisation. We can all be so proud of them. For months now they have been our greatest ambassadors for the Games, the greatest ambassadors for Normandy and indeed the greatest ambassadors for France!”

Princess Haya, speaking in French and English, also expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in making the Games possible. “On behalf of everyone here tonight, and everyone around the world who will enjoy these seventh World Equestrian Games, I want to thank the people of Normandy for so warmly welcoming us to this beautiful region,” Princess Haya said.

“I also want to thank the World Equestrian Games Foundation, Alltech, and the many volunteers who have given so generously of their time and energy. These Games could not happen without you. And of course, I want to thank all of the athletes who have come to Normandy to pursue their dreams. You are at the pinnacle of our sport; you have earned the right to be here through your hard work and dedication.

“Whether you win or lose, these Games are sure to be a highlight of your career. I am confident that you will represent our sport well and prove yourselves to be true champions. I wish you all the best of luck.”

Princess Haya then invited French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to declare the Games open, the first time in the history of the World Equestrian Games that there has been a Prime Minister at the opening ceremony.

The top-level French Government delegation also included Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Le Foll, Minister of Agriculture Affairs and government spokesman, and Thierry Braillard, Under Secretary for Sport.

French team member and former athlete representative on the FEI Bureau, Kevin Staut, and Anne Prain, President of the Ground Jury for Para-Equestrian Dressage took the FEI pledge on behalf of the athletes and judges.

On behalf of all the FEI officials, Anne Prain spoke of the spirit of fair play and integrity, while the athletes’ pledge was given by Kevin Staut: “In the name of all riders, I promise that we shall take part in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to our sport without doping, in the true spirit of welfare of the horse and of sportsmanship, for the glory of equestrian sport and the honour of our teams.”

A total of 478,000 tickets of the 500,000 on offer had already been sold before tonight’s Opening Ceremony, and with top sport across the FEI disciplines from now until 7 September, a fantastic spectator experience is guaranteed over the next 15 days!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spain Presents 2014 WEG Endurance Team Brochure

From Ignasi Casas, Spanish Chef d'Equipe:

"It's a great pleasure to present you the couples that will be part f the Spanish Equestrian Endurance Team in the WEG 2014.

"After so many years of efforts and success, the Spanish Endurance has been consolidated as a great team at international level, thank you to the success of Nobby and Maria Alvarez apart from others. And the recent medals of the juniors in Tarbes 2013, the European Ch. in Mst 2013 and the European junior in Verona 2014.

"The new endurance with the professionalism, the world evolution in FEI, the massive sales of horses and others is making a big challenge. This has to help us to be motivated and adaptive to the new times of the endurance. All together, horses, riders, crews, owners, breeders, veterinarians, officials and supporters in general, had to be able to follow the new challenges of the new worldwide endurance that is making our sport very demanding.

"Without forgetting that above all we have the horse, this great animal that let us realize our dreams and that give us everything without asking anything.

"Have a nice race and enjoy."

See the brochure here:

Ten reasons to watch 'World Cup of horses' - Full Article

By Ollie Williams for CNN
Published 8:34 AM EDT Aug 22, 2014

(CNN) — More than 70 nations, 1,000 athletes and as many horses. The World Equestrian Games are upon us.

The biggest equestrian event outside the Olympics comes to Normandy, France, on Monday for two weeks of drama, daring, dressage and ... "Don Johnson."

Normandy claims to be home to 93,000 horses and more than 400 equestrian centers, but France has never seen anything on the scale of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (often shortened to "WEG").

You can win world titles in no fewer than eight types of horse sport at the four-yearly showpiece. All three Olympic equestrian disciplines are involved, alongside the Paralympic sport of para-dressage.

So what should you expect over the next two weeks? Where to look? Who to follow? CNN World Sport answers those questions and more...

Read more:

WEG endurance: A true battle of the fittest

The number of endurance riders and nations competing at the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games beats all previous attendance records, writes Berry Pattison.

When the 160km ride gets under way at Normandy on Thursday, August 28, some 47 nations from as far afield as China, Colombia, Kazakhstan and Thailand, will take their place on the track.

There are definite entries from 173 athletes, with 198 horses declared for the competition in Sartilly, just over 100km from the main Games venue in Caen.

The ride base opens on Monday, August 25, and National Federations are able to enter up to five athletes and seven horses for the pre-ride inspection, with chefs d’equipe declaring their final horses after the inspection.

The 2014 Games has seen the introduction of a higher minimum speed, this year set at 15kph, to ensure that all horses competing are fit enough to deal with the distance and tough questions asked on track. And for the first time at Championship level, the 160km track is made up of only five loops rather than the more traditional six-loop format.

[Full articale at]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 USA Endurance Team Member: Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade

August 21 2014
by Merri

Considering his background, it was somewhat inevitable that 39-year-old Jeremy Olson would one day end up on the USA Endurance Team. His dad Craig Olson started in the sport in 1978 when Jeremy was 3, "so I did my first 50-mile ride when I was 7, in 1982. And I've been in endurance pretty much ever since," Jeremy says. Craig Olson's early AERC record shows a lot of 100-mile rides - sometimes that's the only distance he did during the season. He also won the 1990 Race of Champions and Best Condition on Spruce Sarta, a horse who had a 23 for 23 100-mile record, and where he defeated future multiple World Endurance Champion Valerie Kanavy.

Jeremy did leave endurance for a while - a business degree in college, and then working in the Real World for about 6 years kept him busy. "But it's always been in my blood, it's one of the only equestrian disciplines I've ever known."

After he and his now-wife Ellen Olson (also on this year's USA Team) moved closer together in Iowa, they decided to try endurance full time. Around 2008, they both quit their jobs, went to Florida with 6 endurance horses, and had a very good (winter) season there. Subsequently, they were offered jobs training and riding in Qatar in the Middle East, where they went for 3 winter race seasons. It was an invaluable experience.

"We got to expand our knowledge of the sport so much because we had about 80 horses in our control," Jeremy explains. "We designed all the training for the barn, and oversaw everything; so we could take 10-12 horses, put them in 3 different groups and try different philosophies in the back of our minds and see how they were brought into races better, whether it was walking vs running vs swimming vs treadmills. We had all the toys, and we could do it all and kind of fine-tune our training program. You don't have that opportunity here very often - that many horses to do that many different things with, to just expand your knowledge base, learn the best way to keep them sound and healthy and fast enough to be competitive. So it was great."

Back in Florida in the winters is where the Olsons got to know Kentucky endurance rider Amy Wallace Whelan, and her gelding Wallace Hill Shade. The 12-year-old half Arabian, half Tennessee Walker has an AERC record of over 2000 miles, 34 completions in 38 starts, and 5 of 6 100-mile completions in over 8 seasons. Amy knew her horse's potential, but she didn't have the time to devote to bringing him along to the top international competition level. "We talked about it," Jeremy says, "and came to an understanding and agreement that we take him and condition him and start riding him. It's not a permanent arrangement; at some point he'll go back and Amy will continue riding him, but she thought through his prime years it would be good to try to bring him as far as he can take us, because she felt he's such a nice animal." (Amy recently competed in the Mongol Derby in Mongolia, billed as "The Longest and Toughest Horse Race in the World", where she suffered an injury and could not complete the race, but still calls it "The greatest adventure ever!")

In January 2014, Jeremy and Wallace Hill Shade finished second and got Best Condition in the Broxton Bridge 100-mile ride in Ehrhardt, South Carolina; following that on April 18-19 they participated in the Endurance Team Selection Trial at Broxton Bridge, and the effort resulted in their being ranked 6th on the shortlist for the USA Team bound for the Endurance Championship at the World Equestrian Games, on August 28, 2014, along the Bay of Mont St Michel, Normandy, France.

As the first team alternate, Jeremy and Wallace Hill Shade have travelled to France with their teammates, and are ready to step up if called upon. "Ellen's horse Hot Desert Knight and my horse Shade, they look great at the moment, so now it's our job to keep them looking that way from here until race day and then execute on race day. Pretty much our work is done as far as fitness goes; both of our horses are fit and sound, so we just have to do some maintenance work between now and then, and hopefully nothing dumb happens. We'll do our best to keep them sound and healthy, and hopefully the 5 horses on the team look great and can start, and we can bring home a medal; but if something happens, I'll be ready to step up and help the cause as well."

It's all about the USA Team effort, and Jeremy expresses his belief in the USA's chances this year. "We're excited. We think we have a good fast team put together. So we hope to make everybody proud this time, and do something we haven't done in a while.

"There are some fresh faces on the team, and some not-so-fresh faces; so I think that Emmett has really gone out of his way to put a plan in place and give a goal that we had to hit coming into even trying for the qualifications for this WEG, certain speeds that he wanted to see us do in one 160-km ride. And all 7 horses that are listed to go have hit that speed that he's asked. So if we can hit it again while we're there, we'll be bringing home a medal."

For more coverage of the Endurance Championship at the World Equestrian Games, see:

Top photo is Jeremy and Wallace Hill Shade in France
Other photos are Jeremy and Banjara at the 2012 Texas Team Trials

2014 WEG: The official mobile application is now available - Full Article

19 August 2014

The official mobile application of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy is now available on the Apple Store (iPhones) and Google Play (Android smartphones).

With this mobile application, you will get to follow the event with your iPhone/Android Smartphone thanks some of exclusive content :

Schedule, Live Scores & Results of all the competitions
Rankings & Medals
News, photos and videos of the event
Visitor Info (access, catering etc.) and maps to organise your stay
Rankings and Biographies of the 1,000 competitors
Filters per discipline to enable you to only follow the competitions that you like
Social Media Hub : Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest
A photo contest « Fotofan »
A lot more

CLICK HERE to download the app on the Apple Store

CLICK HERE to download the app on Google Play

*the app is not available on Windows Phones and on tablets, but the website is available on all phones & tablets.

Great Britain: RACING: Mowatt’s mount is a Dream come true - Full Article

20 August 2014

A HORSE bred in Bridport has ranked the highest for endurance in a prestigious competition, making it a good bet to compete on a national level.

Horse breeder Samantha Mowatt, from Bridport, gained a higher first premium award with her mount Dream The Way Back at the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) Futurity held in Devon.

The horse, owned and bred by Mowatt, attained a higher first premium of 8.70 in the endurance section – the highest score awarded to a potential endurance horse at the event.

A higher first premium indicates that the horse has the potential and outlook to perform at national level...

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 France WEG Update from Meg Sleeper

USA Endurance Team member Meg Sleeper (and Syrocco Reveille) has kindly agreed to share her 2014 World Equestrian Games adventure with us:

August 19, 2014

Thank you to everyone sending well wishes and suggestions. I feel like a heel because I realized today I missed at least one company I should have thanked in that previous email. Animal Health Options has supplied us with Promotion eq for several years now and I can’t believe I forgot them!! They have been super supportive and I love their product. I realized my forgetfulness as I was measuring out this morning’s scoop. Hopefully there aren’t many others I forgot!!

The day started out absolutely beautiful but by 11am a new front had come in and the off and on rain settled in again. I had planned on riding on the beach, but was only going to walk anyway, so I decided to change my plan and put Reveille on the walker for a few hours instead. Caroline, the woman we had visited who lives on the trail near the start, stopped by to tell us her friend (who also lives on the trail) was visited by the Spanish team evaluating the trail, and they had a map (argh!!?!). Not to be outdone, we also went to look at that small section of the trail. Her friend told us the organizing committee was redirecting some of the planned WEG trail because conditions were so wet and muddy. Bad trail conditions will make the trail trickier, but hopefully that will be to our advantage.

This afternoon we went to Mont St. Michel. It was a quick trip because there is only so much time I feel comfortable leaving Rev, however it was absolutely amazing. It may have been a short trip, but we saw a lot of the parts of the island because our tour guide was Emilio, the Paraguayan masochist. He is amazingly adept at navigating his way through crowds, so the rest of us were left trotting to keep up and after power walking up to the top and realizing the wait for the Abbey
tour would require at least 45 minutes…he hiked us right back down and then started up again by another route. We finally convinced him a more leisurely trek back down to the exit, with some exploration along the way, would be better :). There are 41 monks that currently live on the island. The pictures really don’t do it justice...

Read more here:

You can follow Meg's adventures, get to know the USA team members, keep up with the US quest for a podium medal, and keep up with the World Endurance Championship at the WEG on August 28th here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Definite entries for Endurance Championship at the WEG in Normandy

Definite entries for the Alltech FEI Wrld Equestrian Games Endurance Championship to be held in Normandy, France on August 28, have been up since August 15th. Each National Federation could enter a maximum of 5 athletes and 7 horses.

• Total National Federations (NFs): 47
• NFs with teams: 33
• NFs with individuals only: 14
• 173 athletes, 198 horses

Previous record: 159 participants from 42 nations in Aachen in 2006.

To see a list of definite entries, see

Australia: Shahzada

Less than a week to go to the running of Shahzada in St Albans from Monday, 25th – Friday, 29th August.  The ultimate test of 400km over five days or for those who want all the fun with a little challenge,  try the mini marathon of 120km over three days from Tuesday, 26th to Thursday, 28th August.   Time to get your pre-noms, campsite requests and number reservations in and some serious planning for the best experience you will ever have in endurance riding - all available on the Shahzada website.
Heaps of entertainment during the week of Shahzada which will be announced as we get closer.

Belinda Hopley is running a TPR school at Shahzada this year on Saturday, 23rd August at 10 am - contact Belinda on 0262382293 or  This is your chance to be a real help in the sport.....a few hours of tpr'ing here or there at a ride can really make a difference.

There will be a track clearing weekend on Saturday, 26th and Sunday, 27th July....if you would like to help on this weekend please contact Haydn Fisher on 0428 324 449 or volunteer to help during Shahzada, please email me.   
There will be lots of updates through the website, various State websites and facebook pages as well as the chat pages regarding Shahzada and the lead up to it but for now, go to the Shahzada website for all the stories and pre and post ride books from previous years.   There is now a 2014 Shahzada 400 Endurance Ride Facebook Event Page with lots of updates for the event as well as photos from 2013. 

Please contact Shahzada secretary, Sue Todd on   or phone 0263 797218 with any other inquiries.

Monday, August 18, 2014

2014 USA Endurance Team Member: Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Reveille

August 18 2014
by Merri

To truly understand the definition of a classy endurance competitor who successfully embraces not only the challenges of high level international competition, but the epitome of the laudable AERC endurance attribute of career longevity, one needs look no further than Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Reveille.

Veterans of both USA endurance rides and numerous World Endurance Championships, both rider and horse bring a bounty of experience to the USA team for the Endurance Championship at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France on August 28th.

With AERC statistics of 27 completions in 28 starts, 11 of 12 100-mile completions, 5 wins, twenty Top 10 finishes, almost 2000 miles, and 8 Best Condition awards over 10 seasons, 14-year-old Syrocco Reveille (a purebred Arabian by Rimmon - Edgewood Schelite by Blackburne Charal) has a record any USA endurance horse would envy. However, her success goes far beyond resilience and good management. Reveille carries her durability and toughness to the highest level of competition on the world stage for the third time in her storied career.

Reveille and Meg first competed together in a World Endurance Championship in Malaysia in 2008 when Reveille was 8 years old. The pair was riding with fellow team members Jan Worthington and Golden Lightning when, near the end of loop 2, the foursome was nearly struck by lightning on course. "I saw the bolt of light and sparks all around us," Meg later wrote. "The thunder clap was immediately after and both horses bolted. Unfortunately, Leon bolted into Rev and pushed both horses out into the jungle. We hit a tree, and both horses went down and rolled." Due to the wreck, Reveille was pulled for lameness at the next to last vet gate. (Jan and Golden Lightning completed the race but were pulled at the finish line for lameness.) The hardy mare bounced back, returning to her winning form next season, winning the 2009 AHA 100-mile championship with Meg in Oklahoma.

Flash forward to the 2012 World Endurance Championship in Great Britain, and you'll find Meg and Syrocco Reveille finished 11th (just one second behind 10th place), the highest finish for a USA rider since 2000, (when Connie Walker finished 11th at Compiegne on DML Smoke Silver), with a completion time of 7:49.11. Reveille shows another sub-8-hour 100 miler on her record, a win and Best Condition in the March 2010 FITS ride in Florida, in 7:44.

With over 12,000 AERC miles, and having ridden in 76 AERC 100-mile rides (with 66 completions), 46-year-old Meg Sleeper of Frenchtown, New Jersey, is not only a seasoned endurance rider, but with making the USA team for the 7th time - all on home-breds - she's a top class international competitor. Meg was an alternate for the USA team in 2002 in Spain, made the team for Dubai in 2004 (although she didn't ride), finished 22nd in Germany in 2006 on Shyrocco Troilus, rode Reveille in Malaysia in 2008, competed on Syrocco Harmony in Kentucky in 2010, and finished 11th on Reveille in Great Britain in 2012.

"It's a really special bond you get with the horse that's different than any other," Meg says about riding endurance. "One of the things I love about endurance is it's not just about just going as fast as you can… It's about actually figuring out the trail and the weather environment and everything that you get that particular day, and then making your best effort for those hurdles you have that day."

That Meg and her husband Dave Augustin bred, raised and trained Syrocco Reveille makes the experience all the sweeter. They've been breeding their own horses for close to 25 years; Shyrocco Troilus was the first homebred Meg competed on in a World Endurance Championship. He's 22 now: "We don't sell many; they do kind of become family members," Meg says. It's a testament to her riding experience, and her profession as a veterinary cardiologist, that she's had long careers with her home-bred horses, even at the highest level of competition.

Meg is confident of the USA's goal of a Team Medal, and of Reveille's potential in France. "She's done several rides in under 8 hours, so I think, assuming everything goes well and she's on, she's done that speed before, and if she can just do it again, it'll be one of the times we need to hopefully get that gold medal."

Above photos are of Meg and Syrocco Reveille in the 2012 World Endurance Championship in Great Britain

For more coverage of the Endurance Championship at the World Equestrian Games, see:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The hi-tech, high-stakes race for endurance gold

By Neil Clarkson on Aug 14, 2014 in Featured, News, WEG 2014

The endurance race to decide the world champion at WEG is sure to be most scrutinised event in the sport’s history. Welfare concerns arising from the Middle East drove reforms which are now in place for the Games, but will they go far enough to rein in excesses in the sport? We talk with FEI 1st vice-president John McEwen about the issues facing endurance, the fallout from Compiègne, and the prospects for WEG.

High-definition video cameras, tamper-proof GPS devices, an approved heart-rate system, and a specialist timing system. Such hi-tech gear sounds more like the domain of Q, James Bond’s famed gadgetry specialist.

Welcome, instead, to the pinnacle of world endurance where a raft of surveillance measures and advanced monitoring protocols means little will escape officials.

There will be 24/7 video surveillance of the stables. Cameras will also monitor the cooling area and rest areas, not to mention the entire vetting area. A new FEI vet gate timing system will send horses to vet lanes in strict order of arrival time, automatically diverting horses away from their own nation’s veterinary officials.

[Read more ...]

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mongolia: WA rider triumphs in world's toughest race - Full Article

NATALIE BROWN The West Australian
August 14, 2014, 2:01 am

As horse rider Sam Jones headed for the remote Mongolian savanna for the endurance ride of her life, her mentor gave her some words of advice - look out for yourself and hope for good luck.

Kirsten Melis said she knew Jones, 40, had the riding skills to finish the world's longest horse race, but as she became the first Australian to win the Mongol Derby, Melis said Jones also "had lady luck on her side".

Yesterday an exhilarated Jones beat 47 other international competitors in the 1000km endurance race - said to be the toughest course in the world - in which riders race semi-wild horses picked up from remote stations along the route...

Read more here:

US names endurance team, Aust makes substitute - Full Article

By on Aug 13, 2014 in WEG 2014

Former world endurance champion Valerie Kanavy has been named as second alternate on the US team for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, but her anglo-arab mare My Wild Irish Gold will carry the Kanavy flag under rider Kelsey Russell.

Kanavy, 68, who won individual world championship titles in1994 and 1998, has been named among the US team’s four alternates...

Read more here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Princess Haya rocks equestrian sport by stepping down as president of world governing body

By Pippa Cuckson
7:51PM BST 12 Aug 2014

Wife of Sheikh Mohammed gives up her post after two four-year terms to focus on humantiarian work in Gaza and her family

In a shock move with long-term ramifications for the sport, Princess Haya of Jordan will not seek a third term as president of the International Equestrian Federation.

National federations hoped they had changed her mind at the extraordinary general assembly in April, where amended FEI statutes eased her path to remain in charge.

But although the last 18 months of here second four-year term have been blighted by the endurance controversy, involving stables owned by her husband Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, she cited even more personal reasons for her decision. The political situation in the Middle East, her heavy involvement in the humanitarian work for Gaza and devotion to her children have all been pivotal to what she described as the “hardest decision” of her life.

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2014 USA Endurance Team Member: Ellen Olson and Hot Desert Knight

August 12 2014
by Merri

Before April of 2014, Hot Desert Knight had already made a name for himself in the USA endurance world. The bay gelding is 14 years old, has a record of 3565 AERC miles and 14 Best Condition awards over 11 seasons (mostly with owner and heavyweight rider Farzad Faryadi), has finished 15 of 16 100-mile rides, and holds at least one course record, in the Vermont 100.

Before April of 2014, Ellen Olson of Dubuque, Iowa (and Florida in the winter) had already made her mark as an experienced horsewoman and endurance rider with 3240 AERC miles, as a partner with husband Jeremy Olson in their Noslo Endurance training business, and as a USA Team Member for the Endurance Championship at the 2010 Kentucky World Equestrian Games, though sadly, her horse came up lame the day before the race.

Ellen and Hot Desert Knight are now set to accomplish even higher goals on the world stage: together they are headed to France in August to represent the USA in the August 28th Endurance Championship, part of the 2014 World Equestrian Games.

Ellen remembers seeing "Dez" the last couple of years at endurance rides with Farzad; her husband Jeremy said he always thought Dez was one of the top 3 horses in the country. The Olsons made a deal with Farzad in 2012 to lease the horse and try to make the USA team for France. "I always thought my horse could get to that level," Farzad says, "but I just didn't have the time to give him what he needed, so I think it worked out great."

Ellen and Dez paired up for the first time together in March 2013 for the 100-mile FITS ride in Florida, and they won first place and Best Condition. They competed together again in Montana in the Ft Howes 100-mile ride in June, and got second place and Best Condition. Those races cemented the Olsons' confidence in Dez's potential. "We figured he'd have a really good shot at making the team with his ability. He basically is just a natural, especially for a 100-mile horse. He loves what he does, and he's good at it. He's so awesome!" Ellen says.

Dez seems to know how good he is, all business on the trails; but he is by no means an easy ride. "He's extremely, extremely forward. He doesn't spook; he pulls and pulls and pulls, ears always forward. At the Team Trials (held April 18-19 in Ehrhardt, South Carolina), it was all I could stand to hold him back for the 50 miles. I kept thinking, 'He's going to relax and loosen up, he's going to relax and loosen up…'

"He does kind of relax a little bit more after 50 miles, but at the Team Trials we were all riding as a group; it was a huge competition for him."

Ellen grew up showing horses, doing dressage and eventing with her twin sister, Eryn. She went to Kirkwood Community College in Iowa, where she showed in saddle seat, Western pleasure, and hunt. She was 17 when she met endurance rider Louise Riedel, and started helping her condition her horses. It was natural for Ellen to make the transition to endurance rider, since a few of her eventing and jumping horses were Arabs or Arab crosses who loved the cross-country portions of their events.

Ellen did her first endurance ride at age 18; and now, 14 years later, she and her husband Jeremy are happy to pass that addiction on to young endurance riders. "That's kind of our big thing now, is we really enjoy bringing the Young Riders to the international level. It's rewarding to get them addicted early on. I remember when I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was anything with horses.

"It's really nice to see the kids like that, the ones that really like to do the work, and asking what they can do next, and always asking question, like 'What did I do wrong, or what can I do to improve.' I can see them going down the same path as I did."

With her position on the USA Endurance Team, Ellen is setting a good example for the Young Riders to follow, and Hot Desert Knight's fans will be watching.

"From the first time I brought Dez to a ride, I had hundreds of emails, and people coming up to me at races, people I don't even know say, 'We are so excited for you and Farzad to have Dez!' They all said that they felt we deserved a chance to show the world what he could do, and it's been a real inspiration working with him.

"I'm so excited! Our horses are looking great, I think we should be able to help the team out!"

Top photo is Ellen and Hot Desert Knight on their last training ride before leaving for France
Other photos are of Ellen and SA Belshazzar at the 2012 Texas Team Trials

Mongol Derby Race Report - Day 7 - Full Story

After a day 6 dominated by unruly horses, day 7 will be remembered for some great riding. The back four riders of Ann-Therese Helgesson, Jade Sevelow-Lee Michelle Jarvis, and Alison Wilson spent the night out in the mountains but according to Anna, vet at HS17 they arrived 'strong and cheerful'.

'Bullet' Our head horseman Unenburen said this of Jade as she thundered past. Apparently she'd requested a fast horse which explains the message she sent at the end of the day:

“Rode over 100k today. Black eye, bloody nose from bad stumble while riding. Still sitting tall though. Tired, but tall. Thanks to everyone sending good vibes!

— Jade

Two other riders reported to be flying were Musse Hasselvall and Mikael Eriksson who took just 2 hours 20 to ride from HS17 to HS18. Heather Russell and Chris Berkers also rode well, through HS19 gained at least an hour on Anita and Rose...

Read more here:

Mongol Derby Race Report - Day 6 - Full Story

This morning began with riders spread over 6 horse stations (about 250 km). With some of the toughest legs to ride and some of the feistiest horses this was always going to be a big day.

We had two early retirements with Per Michanek and Anna Christina De Jonquieres throwing in the towel.

Mid-afternoon saw another dropout, the previously unshakeable Amy Wallace-Whelan who was thrown from her horse on leg 17. It quickly became apparent that the horses at this particular Urtuu were eating something more than Weetabix for their morning feed.

While most riders fall at some point during the derby it seemed for many this point would be from HS16. The leg was all the more challenging for the high pass to be crossed. A couple of the fiesty stallions also broke free and decided to run home...

Read more here:

Monday, August 11, 2014 US Endurance Team Announced for 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Heather Reynolds (left)

Dr. Margaret Sleeper (right)

Five horse-and-rider pairs and four alternates have been named for Normandy.

August 11, 2014

USEF Press Release

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has named five horse-and-athlete combinations to the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Endurance Team. Additionally, four horse-and-athlete combinations have been named as alternates.

The following horse-and-athlete combinations have been named to the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Endurance Team (in alphabetical order):

Ellen Olson (La Motte, Iowa) and Farzad Faryadi's Hot Desert Knight
Hot Desert Knight is a 2000 Arabian gelding.

Heather Reynolds (Dunnellon, Fla.) and her own Chanses
Chanses is a 2005 Arabian gelding.

Jeremy Reynolds (Dunnellon, Fla.) and his own RR Gold Dust Rising
RR Gold Dust Rising is a 2006 Arabian gelding.

Kelsey Russell (Williston, Fla.) and Valerie Kanavy's My Wild Irish Gold
My Wild Irish Gold is a 2003 Anglo Arab mare.

Dr. Margaret Sleeper (Frenchtown, N.J.) and her own Syrocco Reveille
Syrocco Reveille is a 2000 Arabian mare.

The following horse-and-athlete combinations have been named as alternates to the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Endurance Team (in ranked order):

Jeremy Olson (La Motte, Iowa) and Amy Wallace-Whelan's Wallace Hill Shade
Wallace Hill Shade is a 2002 Half-Arabian gelding.

Valerie Kanavy (Fort Valley, Va.) with her own Just Gold
Just Gold is a 2005 Arabian gelding.

Lisanne Dorion (Williston, Fla.) with her own SH Sur Trad
SH Sur Trad is a 2004 Arabian gelding.

Melody Blittersdorf (Jeffersonville, Vt.) with her own Synthetic
Synthetic is a 2000 Arabian gelding.

View the Selection Procedures for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games U.S. Endurance Team at

Keep up with all the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 news at

Full article on

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mongol Derby Race Report - Day 5 - Full Story

The leading pack has shrunk to 7 riders, the main pack has swollen to 20, there was a muddy bog for some, another involuntary dismount and one more withdrawal. Here’s the Day 5 race report... For race positions see the Day 5 Leaderboard.
Michelle Jarvis and Alison Wilson leave Horse Station 12.

Michelle Jarvis and Alison Wilson leave Horse Station 12.

The front runners made it to Horse Station 19 but Mary Lee and Catherine Stott have fallen a leg behind today and find themselves at 18 overnight.

11 km out of station 16 Mary Lee came off her horse. Unfortunately she couldn’t catch it before it ran back to its home station but Mary is clearly determined to stay with the leaders. She went back to the station and was eventually reunited with her tack and picked herself a new horse. Tackling the same ground again, including a mountain pass, on her own must have been tough but even though she lost at least 2 hours she remains in contention...

Read more here:

St. George horseman completes one of the world’s toughest endurance races - Full Story Written by E. George Goold May 10, 2024 ST. GEORGE — The Gaucho Derby is a 500-kilometer horse race throug...