Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chaos at the World Equestrian Games

NYTimes.com - Full Article

By Victor Mather
Sept. 17, 2018

For Tryon, in western North Carolina, the arrival of the quadrennial World Equestrian Games this month was a chance to host the type of big international event that seldom comes to small Southern towns. Organizers promised half a million spectators and $400 million in economic impact.

Instead, much has gone wrong.

Few could blame organizers for the effects of Hurricane Florence, which has caused the delay or cancellation of several events. One of the classic events at the Games, called the three-day event, had to be extended to four days because of the storm.

But a series of decisions and mistakes, over housing and a botched endurance race, have led to some far more acrimonious disputes, and created hard feelings among some at the Games.

The competition, which continues through Sunday, is one of the biggest and most important show horse gatherings outside of the Olympics. A thousand horses were shipped to Tryon, about 90 miles west of Charlotte, representing more than 60 nations.

But things got off on the wrong foot almost immediately when some of the competitors were sent the wrong way at the start of the endurance event last Wednesday. Tarek Taher, a rider from Saudi Arabia, told Horse and Hound that he followed a sign to the right and ignored a person who did not look official who told him to turn left.

As a result, organizers decided to restart the event at a shorter distance. “As there is no possibility to reschedule the ride tomorrow,” organizers said, “this was the only pragmatic solution.” But that decision sparked only more bad feelings, and competitors and others sounded off on social media and expressed anger on site that the shorter race benefited some riders more than others...

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