Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blood on the Trail: The history that equine endurance racing will never escape is back to haunt it

Equusmagazine.com - Full Article

New book "American Endurance" looks back at the controversial roots of endurance racing in the United States

By Fran Jurga | 9/26/2016

When last week's FEI World Endurance Championships ("WECH")in Slovakia made the news for all the wrong reasons, echoes of endurance races of the past rumbled to the surface. For the past 125 years, organized equine endurance spectacles have pitted horses against fate. Thanks to FEI TV, we could all watch the WECH horses in action, acting out the latest chapter in endurance history, for better or worse.

This fall, that colorful and often controversial history will be spotlighted in a revealing new book that cannot--and should not--be ignored.

To be truthful, the only time we usually hear about endurance at the international level is when something goes wrong, and it usually has to go very wrong to attract the media's attention at all. How much worse can it get?

Last week, Ajayeb, the 15-year-old chestnut mare ridden by Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum (UAE), was euthanized on the trail, after she tripped and fell on the fourth loop of the track, suffering an irreparable injury to her right front leg. Fair-endurance.net reported that he mare allegedly slipped on a plastic water bottle discarded by riders who came before.

Victory celebrations for some countries stopped short when the first group of finishers didn't meet the veterinary inspection criteria. Two horses ridden by United Arab Emirates riders,Napoli Del Ma (Saif Ahmad Al Mazroui) and Quran El Ulm (Ganem Abdullah Al Merri), were vetted out and Uruguay’s LG Muneerah wasn’t presented by Jonatan Rivera Iriarte.

Grumbles and growls from around the world criticized the race on even more issues than direct welfare questions related to the fatality and the condition failure of the first to finish. Many competitors rode rented European horses that they did not own or even normally ride because the transport for their own horses was not paid for by the event.

The required FEI necropsy of the deceased horse was bypassed because the horse could not be transported across the border to Austria to undergo post mortem tests at the University of Vienna. According to news reports today in the British magazine Horse and Hound, the horse's remains were shipped to a crematorium instead.

All of this might have been written last week--or 100 years ago. Endurance--at least the American version of it--is about to look itself in the mirror when Random House Penguin's new book, American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West by Richard A. Serrano hits the bookstores...

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