Sunday, November 26, 2023

U.S. Endurance Team Competes at 2023 FEI Pan American Endurance Championships in Chile

Francisco Boetsch Tagle photo

Nov 26, 2023, 6:00 PM

Llay Llay, Chile – Four U.S. athletes contested a challenging 120 km ride at the 2023 FEI Pan American Endurance Championships on Friday, Nov. 24. The event was a tough test and saw only one team, the host nation of Chile, have the required number of three combinations complete to earn a team result. However, the U.S. contingent did earn a successful individual completion thanks to young rider Uma Kraskin (Deland, Fla.), making her senior championship team debut riding CL Magnolia, a 2014 mare owned by Carlos Letelier of Haras El Molino in Chile. The pair finished 13th out of a field of 29 starters.

Kraskin connected with Haras El Molino Endurance through her mentor and coach, Cheryl Van Deusen, who was also her teammate at this event.

“El Molino paired me and ‘Maggie’ up as we were both ready and looking to do our first 120 km,” said Kraskin. “I rode her in two 120 km competitions before the Pan Am. Maggie is 9 years old and is very calm and relaxed. She’s incredibly sweet and loving and never gives up. Even at the start, she was focused and calm. Nothing really spooks her. I just let her do her job, which she is awesome at!”

Kraskin described the track as “technical but manageable,” and had good strategy support from the team.

“The ground was very hard with lots of hills, but also good flat spaces to gallop on,” she said. “I’ve trained on hills, but I’m more used to softer ground. My strategy was to read my horse and ride the horse I had on that day as well as observing the terrain and weather around me and adjusting as necessary. I found my Chef d’Equipe Lisanne Dorion and team vet Olivia Rudolphi very helpful in helping me make the best decisions for my horse.”

In addition to Kraskin, two other U.S. athletes partnered with Chilean horses for the championship. Cheryl Van Deusen (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) rode C.L. Misteriosa, a 2012 mare owned by Carlos Letelier, and Tom Rajala (Hillsborough, N.C.) rode HF Barii, a 2010 Arabian mare owned by Maxi Wimmer.

“Some team members opted to partner with El Molino endurance in Chile to overcome logistical challenges and reduce the variables of training for a different set of course dynamics,” said Chef d’Equipe Lisanne Dorion. “Our one U.S.-based combination (Niki Beck (Gillette, Wyo.) and Majestic Cloudy Bay, her own 2009 Appaloosa gelding) smartly trained in Wyoming, is a Tevis-tested rider and horse, and managed the course and heat meaningfully.”

Dorion added that while borrowing horses from the host country does significantly change the way an athlete can prepare for a championship ride, the experience was beneficial for the team members.

“We had an amazing partner in El Molino Endurance,” said Dorion. “Our riders gained all qualifications for this ride over a multiyear period. This proved invaluable in understanding the course itself, the brilliance of partnership in endurance, and was a truly holistic life experience for the athletes.

“Like so many things in life, there is the outward, visible classification of success - in this case medals and placings,” said Dorion. “And then there are the intangible, less visible indications of success - deep team unity and respect. Team USA came home with the latter in spades, and this bodes well for rebuilding endurance in the U.S.”

Kraskin echoed Dorion’s sentiments, citing the bond with Maggie and the camaraderie with her teammates as highlights of the event.

“Some of my favorite moments from the race include cantering along with Maggie and just feeling happy and in unison with her,” said Kraskin. “I also really enjoyed the team spirit we had. Everyone was very supportive of one another, and all of our crew was the best to hang out with!”

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