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!!

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