Wednesday, September 14, 2016

USA Riders, Horses Preparing for World Endurance Championship

September 14 2016
by Merri

USA's Meg Sleeper and Shyrocco Rimbaud, and Tom Hagis and Indian Reinman are in Samorin, Slovakia, finishing last minute conditioning and preparations for the 2016 World Endurance Championship, which will start at 6 AM on Saturday, September 17.

Sleeper will be represented by two of her horses at the WEC. She also owns Syrocco Rabia, who will be ridden by Fernando Paiz for Guatemala. Additionally, Colin for Gold, owned by USA's Valerie Kanavy, will be ridding by Hirofumi Ono of Japan.

Days are filled with caring for the horses - riding, hand walking, hand grazing, feeding, bandaging, lasering (MR4 ACTIVet cordless, cold laser made by Multi Radiance Medical), and team meetings and meals. Horses moved to a main barn at the venue on Monday. "We are in 'The Hague' barn," said Meg, "which I am hoping will be good luck since Val [Kanavy] won the championship there [in 1994]."

Also on Sunday, the horses were able to pre-ride the blue loop (about 12 miles), the last phase of the event. "The trails for endurance are very firm and in fact there are places it is so well packed it looks almost like concrete. We knew concussion was going to be an issue for the horses with this trail, and ours are all padded to try to minimize the concussion," Meg said.

Currently the forecast for Saturday is 75 degrees with no rain.

Meg discussed the competition aspect of the event. "The scuttlebutt is that the winning speed will be 25kph (or 15.6 mph). That’s a blistering pace over 100 miles, and I don’t doubt there will be people doing it. It is going to be a very interesting event.

"To give some more perspective, the awards ceremony is scheduled for 6pm the night of the race (12 hours after the scheduled start time). I have no doubt that there will be those that attempt it and some will be successful.

"The speeds that some can and have achieved, and to be honest the abilities of all high level equine athletes, keep me in constant awe of the horse. And I suppose that’s what sport and competition is: to push the limits of our capabilities.

"All I am able to say for certain is I will do my absolute best in regards to the competition, but also in regards to trying to keep Rim healthy and happy.

"And I can speak for the USA team (and Guatemala and Japan) when I say we will do it clean."

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