Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Through the Eyes of a Mom: Alex Shampoe's FEI Endurance World Championship for YR-J in Italy



September 18 2019
Aileen Ellis photo

17-year-old Alex Shampoe, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was one of 5 USA Young Riders that participated in the 120-km FEI Endurance World Championships for Young Riders & Juniors in Pisa, Italy, on September 18. Riding Valerie Kanavy’s 11-year-old Arabian gelding, Dude Free Gold, the pair made it to the next to last loop before being pulled.

Alex's mom, Aileen Ellis, wrote the following recap afterwards:

Well, it is hard to know how to start this post. Alex and I have been in Italy for 19 days. We spent the first two weeks in Bologna with Dude. Alex spent her days walking and riding Dude, showing Dude, trotting Dude and doing what riders do before a world championship. I spent my time cleaning stalls, filling water buckets, driving through hundreds of roundabouts in Italian traffic. We all moved to Pisa a few days ago.

24 hours ago Alex and Dude Free Gold, along with four other horse rider teams from the US started in the 2019 Young Rider Endurance World Championship. The ride was 120 km long and included four loops. Dude was pulled for lameness at the mandatory recheck before going out on the final 20 km (12 mile) loop. It was so hard to watch Alex's dream come crashing to an end in a second, but life happens and we survive. I watched the expression on Alex's face. It was Hanna who was able to put it into words hours later. What we saw was relief. Relief that if Dude was really lame (which he was) that it was caught by the outstanding FEI vets and that Dude would not be asked to complete those final 20 km in any pain. There was no doubt that if the vets did not pull Dude, Alex would have rider optioned.... always putting Dude first.

To end the story here with the facts would be an injustice of the magnitude of the trip. There are so many highlights to share.

Congratulations to the US team for taking 6th place at this championship. What an incredible accomplishment. Congratulations to the teams from UAE, Spain and Italy. Your horses were amazing. Congratulations to Kate Bishop from the US. You demonstrated what we all know; ride your horse's ride. Congratulations to Maria Mussio and Katie Baldino and your families and crew for not giving up on your dreams to complete a world championship.


The organization of this ride was top notch. The facility was beautiful. The FEI veterinary team was friendly and fair.

We can look at the negatives in our life and feel sorry for ourselves or we can find their is always something positive to see.

Kimberly Loutzenheiser rider optioned after loop 2. It was great to see so much maturity from Kimberly at such a difficult moment. In some ways, this experience will bond you and Alex together.

Alex's crew could not have been more supportive throughout the entire experience. Thank you to Ian Harrison, Mustafa, Hanna and Andres. We could use Andres's trot outs to teach us all how to present our horses. The friendship from Hanna through the ups and downs of the week was so vital to Team Dude. Mustafa brought so much experience to the team. I believe Doctor Harrison loves and respects Dude as much as Alex does. His confidence in Alex and Dude never faltered.

So many people have texted and private messaged both me and Alex late yesterday and into this morning. Your support means the world to us. Some of you I know very well....others of you were names on facebook that yesterday became friends. You have asked how Alex is doing.

If you know Alex, you already know how Alex is doing. I saw so many sides of Alex yesterday. At the start of the race I saw the calm confident rider.... providing confidence to Dude. As the day progressed I saw the self advocate, taking care of herself and Dude. At the moment Dude was pulled I saw the young girl who loves her horse (OK... Valerie's horse). I saw the team mate who stayed for hours at the venue to cheer for her teammates, as well as well as riders and horses from many other teams. I saw the hard worker who helped carry gear back to the stalls. I saw the young lady laughing with her crew at a late dinner last night when all she wanted was to be in bed. I saw the daughter I am so proud of.

To answer your question, Alex will come out of this experience stronger. Stronger as a rider, stronger as a team member, stronger as a advocate for herself and her horses (and your horses too) as well as horses around the world. When one dreams ends it is replaced by another.... expect posts on Alex’s next adventure starting in early November.

There are so many people to thank.

I will begin with Alex's crew. Your support, both from a horse perspective and a friend persepctive was more than any Mom could hope for their daughter. Thank you.

It may seem strange, but I want to thank Dude. Your spirit was amazing. Your attitude incredible. You took care of Alex all day. You never gave up. I am sure you and Alex will ride together again. After spending 3 weeks with you....I love you.

And most important, thank you to Valerie Kanavy. This adventure never would have been possible with out the trust, guidance and support of Valerie. You have done so much for my daughter, for other young riders, and for the sport of endurance. You took Alex in for over 3 months, not as a farm hand, not as an exercise rider, but as a member of your team and a member of your family. There are no words to express our gratitude.

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