Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2010 WEG - USA: Smells like Team Spirit

Horsebytes -- A blog for Seattle-area horse folks
Posted by Monica Bretherton at June 29, 2010 2:04 p.m

"I'm like a duck, calm above the water and paddling madly underneath," said Darolyn Butler about her state of mind on Friday, June 25th.

It iss the day before the Western region selection trials for the U.S. Endurance team. 17 of 19 horses presented had vetted through, and Darolyn had a double reason to worry. She had a hopeful member of the Namibian team, Anna Wucher, riding her second qualified horse, DJB Cherry's Juliet.

She was not the only one who was preoccupied with the upcoming ride. "You think about it every waking hour," said California rider, Kassandra DiMaggio.

The pressure comes not just from the rigors of the 80-mile ride they'll be attempting, but from the fact that every move will be scrutinized by the Enduramce Chef d'Equipe, Becky Hart and her five selectors, all endurance riders with international experience: Roger Yohe, Cathy Davis, Anne Stuart, Alex North and Linda Howard. Even if you have years of experience or have ridden on teams with the selectors, there are no givens, because they have to chose the horses and riders with the best chance of winning a medal.

"I have a crisis going on at home," Darolyn said, "but you have to put that all aside."

Home is a long way away. She's based in Texas at Cypress Trails Equestrian Center. Other riders have come from Utah and California, as well as throughout the Pacific Northwest states, and they have been traveling to FEI qualifying rides since 2008.

I thought of the distinction ride vet Dr. Mike Foss drew for me at the PNER convention between the average AERC endurance rider and a typical FEI rider, who is aiming at international competition. "Most of you enjoy endurance riding as a part of their life. For the FEI riders, it IS their life."

That is especially true because most top level riders run businesses around their endurance riding in order to sustain their activities. I chatted with Christoph Schork and Tennessee Mahoney as they hand-grazed their horses, Stars Aflame and TC Moonshine.

"I'm usually on Facebook between midnight and two a.m.," he said.

"That's because the other twenty-two hours you are on your horses," Tennessee pointed out - only a slight exaggeration.

The relationship with the horse that develops is critical to success. "When you spend that much time with them," Christoph said, "it's different than a show jumping rider, who is on each horse for an hour a day. "

[...more at http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/archives/212812.asp?from=blog_last3]

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