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Endurance riders ready to go at WEG!

Penny Toft and Dream Dancer te - Photo: Penelope Toft Facebook page

Penny Toft and Dream Dancer te.

Photo: Penelope Toft Facebook page


By Rebecca Radny

As the sun rises on the 12th of September in Tryon, 139 horses and riders, pulsating with energy and fitness, will embark on the opening equestrian event of the 2018 World Equestrian Games: The Endurance competition. The 160km (100 mile) ride is anticipated to present a keen challenge to the combinations, and with the added element of stormy weather, will be sure to test the horse management capabilities of the competing teams.

This year, Australia has a contingent of four high calibre horse and rider combinations making up the team.

From WA, there is Sam Jones riding an American mount named Wallace Hill Sundance. Sam and Sundance qualified together in Florida back in January, completing the 160km*** event in under 11 hours.

Stella Harbison is from South Australia and has nominated Magical Makada as her mount. Together, Stella and Makada competed in North Carolina a few months ago to achieve their qualifying ride together in over 14kmh.




Hailing from Queensland, Penny Toft is set to compete on home-bred mare Dream Dancer TE. In their most recent ride together, Penny and Dream Dancer competed the 160km*** under 9 hours.

Naomi O’Shaughnessy is a Victorian rider competing on Australian bred horse Castlebar Party Girl. Together, Naomi and Party Girl have competed in FEI competitions across Australia and New Zealand, the latter of which they achieved their qualifying ride in just over 11 hours.

The endurance competition requires riders to travel at a minimum of 12km/h over the 5 loops that vary in distance from 40km to 23km. As with State Championships and the Tom Quilty in Australia, the World Equestrian Games utilises a vet gate into hold (VGHI) vetting process. The VGIH procedure is one that sees the horse and rider complete the loop and engage in effective strapping in order to cool the horse before presenting to the vets, at which time the timer stops and the speed in which the loop was completed is recorded. As I write, the heart rate required in the vetting as riders come off of the loops is 60bpm, with a maximum of 15 minutes for recovery prior to vetting.

The trick to this ride format is to ensure that an achievable pace for the horse is set whilst riding to make certain that the horse will recover quickly once the rider has dismounted. By doing this, the team limits the risk of slowing the overall ride speed by shortening the recovery period. After successfully passing through the vetting (where the horses’ gait and metabolics are examined), both horse and rider will rest for between 40-50 minutes before embarking on the next loop.

Wishing the Australian team the best of luck and all riders a safe competition. Check back once the ride has commenced for more updates from the Endurance competition!





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