In a few days I’ll be heading to Lexington, Kentucky for the World Equestrian Games. This will be my 12th year to travel to a World Equestrian Event. I’ve been able to follow some of the top endurance riders in the world through Canada, Brazil, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, France, Germany, Malaysia, Portugal, and Spain and many parts of the US of A.
The US endurance riders had won an individual Gold Medal at every World Championship from 1986 until 1998. The sport caught fire Internationally – and the US was not the only country that sold top horses to competitive nations. The sport was adopted by the United States Equestrian Federation in 1993. Competitions for the top riders in many parts of the globe include: The European Championship, held in the odd year since 1985, the World Endurance Championship (WEC), held in the even year between World Equestrian Games (WEG), so far in Europe and the Middle East, and the Pan American Championship (PAC), held every other year since 1986. The PAC was held in the US or Canada until 2005 where it went to Argentina and it has been in the Southern hemisphere since that time. Traveling to Uruguay for the 2009 PAC, the US Team secured the Silver medal.
For the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games Endurance competition on 26 September, 162 riders and 18 teams will compete for the Individual and Team medals. The winner of the 2008 Malaysian WEC, Spain’s Maria Alvarez Ponton, will be a tough competitor, as well as the always well- mounted team from Dubai, headed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The French team, winners of team Gold in 2004 and 2006 are a well trained machine maintained by Chef d’equipe, Jean-Louis Leclerc.
This Championship, held on US ground for the first time in many years, has the US hopeful of a chest full of medals. The past year has produced a successful group of trained and committed competitors through a multi-step program with the leadership of 3 time Gold Medal Winner, Chef d’equipe, Becky Hart. Coming down the wire to the 5 member Team and Individual rider selection, nine able riders and 11 horses have been selected for the Short List. These are: Melody Blittersdorf from Jefferson, Vermont; Lindsay Graham from Napa, California; Ellen Rapp of La Motte, Iowa; Deborah Reich of Croton On Hudson, New York; husband and wife, Heather Reynolds and Jeremy Reynolds of Los Gatos, California, Michele Roush of San Juan, California, Margaret Sleeper of Frenchtown, New Jersey; and Janice Worthington of Scales Mound, Illinois.
I will be waiting with excitement for the Named Riders, and know that all of them are qualified to give their best. While we’re waiting, Go out and ride!