Horses and Riders Persevere as Extreme Weather Plays Havoc

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

At Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games

By Margaret Evans

Hurricane Florence continues to challenge riders and organizers at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The extreme weather has played havoc with the 13-day event at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) since it got underway on September 11. 

Dressage and Eventing Final Results 

But despite the many challenges, the competition continues. The Dressage Individual Grand Prix Special held on Friday, September 14 had a golden glow for Germany’s Isabell Werth, who won her second gold medal at these Games aboard the fiery chestnut mare, Bella Rose. Their score of 86.246% secured the win, and included several 10s from the panel of seven judges. Laura Graves (USA) and Verdades captured the silver medal with a score of 81.717%. Defending champion Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Mount St John Freestyle scored 81.489% for the bronze medal.  

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Individual bronze medalist Charlotte Dujardin GBR on the nine-year-old mare, Mount St John Freestyle. Photo FEI/Liz Gregg

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Laura Graves of the United States won the individual silver media with the 16-year-old Verdades, despite gusts of wind during her ride. Photo FEI/MARTIN DOKOUPIL

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

L-R: Dressage individual medalists Laura Graves of the United States, Isabell Werth of Germany, and Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain. Photo FEI/Martin DokoupilL

“Three were out with more than 80 already so I knew we had to give it our best. When Bella started to trot I felt she wanted to go and do it and the half passes could not have been better,” said Werth. 

Of the 16-year-old Verdades, Laura Graves said, “It feels amazing. Two days in a row we really delivered for our country. The heat is a test of a horse’s character.”

Charlotte Dujardin commented on the wonderful performance of the nine-year-old Mount St John Freestyle, “Her passage was incredible. We continue to work on it and will give Isabell a run for her money.”

An extremely disappointing decision was made on Saturday, September 15, to cancel the Individual Grand Prix Freestyle competition. Given the forecasting of major rains for Sunday – the original date for which Freestyle had been scheduled - Plan B was to hold it on Monday. Options were explored to hold the competition in the indoor arena with a change of footing but that proved to be logistically impossible. The biggest complication was that the dressage horses in question are booked to fly out on Monday. The flight could not be delayed or rescheduled.

The cross-country phase of the eventing competition went ahead on Saturday, albeit with start intervals between horses reduced from four minutes to three minutes, and the stadium jumping phase was moved from its original scheduled time on Sunday to Monday (September 17). The reason for the change was heavy rain forecast to start Saturday evening through Sunday.

By all accounts, the cross-country course was both beautiful and challenging. It was designed by the Capt. Mark Phillips, former husband of Anne, Princess Royal, and a gold and silver Olympic medalist in three-day eventing. The WEG’s 5,700 metre course featured 26 numbered fences with 42 jumping efforts for an optimum time of 10 minutes. With its hilly terrain, technical challenges, and a huge hill at the end, it really tested the fitness and ability of the horse and the decision-making skills of the riders. Some riders thought the water combination of jump 10, the MARS Sustainability Bay with a dizzying seven options, the most challenging. The most direct path was four efforts starting with the jump into the water at the wooden rolled fence 10AB, the boat at fence 10C, the bank out at fence 10D and the wedge at fence 10EFG. Two alternates provided riders with options.

“It is a beautiful course to ride, and I really had fun out there,” says Colleen Loach of Dunham, Quebec, riding Qorry Blue d’Argouges, a 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding and the first competitor on course. “The whole course felt really good. My horse jumped great and he had lots of steam left at the end. Qorry is so honest and we’re such a team, it’s just a pleasure to ride him around any track.”

Loach incurred no jumping penalties and had 10 time penalties for a two-phase score of 44.40 penalties. Lisa Marie Fergusson of Langley, BC on her 12-year-old Welsh Sport Horse gelding, Honor Me, jumped clear, adding just 8.4 time penalties for a two-phase score of 48.6. Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, Ontario, unfortunately fell from her 16-year-old Westphalian gelding Pavarotti at jump 18, the Land Rover Turn. Riders had their choice of oxers at 18A, then faced angled squirrels at 18B and 18C. Following Phoenix’ spill, Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, Ontario aboard 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding, Foxwood High, jumped clear with just eight time penalties for a two-phase score of 38.70. Finishing in 27th place after the show jumping phase, O’Hanlon was the top-placed Canadian individually.

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Ingrid Klimke (GER) riding Sap Hale Bob OLD claimed the individual bronze medal in eventing. Photo FEI/Christophe Tanire

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Ireland’s Sarah Ennis, who was third after cross-country with Horseware Stellor Rebound, clears the Mars Eventing horse inspection before the final jumping phase. Photo: ©Sportfoto.com

Riding as an individual for Canada was Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC, with Jollybo, a 14-year-old British Sport Horse mare. Going clear on the course, she scooped just 10.8 time penalties for a combined score of 43.50. 

Of the four riders for each team, the three best combined (dressage, cross-country and jumping) scores are added together for the final score and placing. Great Britain claimed team gold medal with 88.80 penalties. The team silver medal went to Ireland with 93.0 penalties, and France secured the bronze with 99.8 team penalties. The Canadian team finished in 11th place with a combined score of 158.7 penalties, just short of being inside the top ten, with 10th place taken by Netherlands. 

Great Britain’s Rosalind Canter riding Allstar B secured the individual gold medal in eventing. Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy with Mr Chunky claimed the silver medal, and Ingrid Klimke, the leader after cross-country with SAP Hale Bob OLD, had the last rail down in the jumping phase to take home individual bronze.

Individual results for the Canadian eventers: Selena O’Hanlon finished 27th; Lisa Marie Fergusson placed 40th in her inaugural major games; Colleen Loach finished in 47th place; and Bennett-Awad finished in 50th place.

Para-dressage and vaulting are on deck next, and individual medals will be awarded for para-dressage on September 18. 

Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, hurricane florrence horse games, tryon international equestrian centre, weather at weg

Ireland’s Sarah Ennis, who was third after cross-country with Horseware Stellor Rebound, clears the Mars Eventing horse inspection before the final jumping phase. Photo: ©Sportfoto.com

Stats, Challenges, and a Sad Goodbye

Folks at Tryon are enjoying some stats for the eventing competition. According to an article by Leslie Wylie on the Eventing Nation website, more horses crossed the finish line this year than in any other World Championship. The 2018 WEG completion rate was 89%, 16% higher than 2014 and 13% higher than in 2010. Wylie said that, according to EquiRatings, 66.7% of competitors went clear and 21% jumped inside the time.

This year, WEG has come with not only weather and logistics frustrations, but also tragedies. Following cancellation of the endurance challenge, Team New Zealand’s horse, Barack Obama ridden by Jenny Champion, was euthanized. The horse, a 20-year-old Arab gelding, was taken to the Endurance Treatment Clinic after being transported back from the second loop of the 120 km ride. He was treated for kidney problems at the TIEC hospital, then transferred to the Tryon Equine Hospital for further treatment. But the owner, Mark Round, along with veterinarians and Jenny Champion, elected for euthanasia and a post mortem exam is being done. Jenny has been riding the horse since 2014 and the pair had won six endurance competitions.

FEI provided further information about the cancellation of the endurance challenge. The very high reading on the Web Bulb Globe Temperature index measuring not only heat but humidity was a major factor as these conditions create great challenges for competing horses. There was a very high number of horses showing clinical signs of metabolic issues on top of the fact that all of them had to put out additional exertion because of the heavy rainfall earlier.

An alarmingly high number of horses had been sent to the Endurance Treatment Clinic. Of 53 horses being treated, 52 were for metabolic issues. Only one was for lameness. All 53 were dehydrated from excessive sweating and fluid losses, and required fluid therapy. The decision to cancel the competition was considered by all concerned to be absolutely the right one.

The Spanish team lodged an appeal that medals be awarded for the outcome of the competition at the time of cancellation. The appeal was heard by a three-member team and the decision was made that no medals would be given, as the ride was cancelled before any horse had gone the full distance.

As the impending weather conditions continued to threaten weekend events, it was necessary to relocate some of the competition horses to a different barn on site. As a result, the organizing committee was unable to house the World Equine Expo demonstration horses on the property and the demonstration events were cancelled for both week 1 and week 2.

The appearance of WEG’s two mascots, miniature horses named Star and Huck, was also cancelled with hopes for alternate arrangements. Heading into the final week of WEG, all eyes are on the skies for calmer weather and no more rescheduling. 

Main article photo: Individual bronze medalist Charlotte Dujardin GBR on the nine-year-old mare, Mount St John Freestyle. Photo FEI/Liz Gregg

 

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