Saturday, October 06, 2018

Brief Encounters – The New 'Normal' in Endurance - Full Article

Blogs Cuckson Report | October 5, 2018

I haven’t spoken to, or read anything written by, any veterinarian that disagrees with abandoning the Tryon WEG endurance ride. Vets all seem emphatic that horses were not coping with the fast rising heat and humidity.

One told me some were even pulsing back up while being examined – including the super-horses whose heart-rates usually meet the parameters within minutes.

But it isn’t quite that black and white. The weather in isolation was not the issue – historic rides have taken place in worse conditions without everyone keeling over. Worries also stemmed from the inability of so many to ride according to the conditions; some riders were apparently not even aware their horses were in difficulty.

How can that be? This was a world championship, featuring the best and most experienced horses and riders on the planet, surely? Not necessarily. No rider can truly can say their horse is pinging along with its usual verve when they’ve hardly competed it before. In modern endurance, not knowing your horse is the New Normal.

FEI records of the 120-odd riders who started the fateful first loop show:

• 13 had never competed their Tryon horse in a FEI race of any distance before;
• 13 had only started on their Tryon horse once before (in most cases their 160km WEG qualifier, which might not have been a highly competitive race;)
• 28 had only attempted 160km with the same horse twice before;
• 24 had started their Tryon horse in FEI twice over any distance before; nine riders three times;
• 59 riders had previously attempted 160km with their Tryon horse more than twice;
• Only 37 horse and riders had progressed from 80Km to 160km level as a combination;
• Four riders had fewer than 10 career starts in FEI at any distance on any horse/s; 18 riders had just 10-20 previous FEI starts on any horse/s...

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