by Aileen Ellis
A Colorado Springs high school student has qualified to represent the US at the Endurance World Championships for Young Riders in Pisa, Italy, in September.
Alex Shampoe, 17, is one of five US Young Riders (14 to 21 years old) to make the cut. She will ride a horse named Dude Free Gold, owned by Valerie Kanavy of Fort Valley, Virginia, in the championship sponsored by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI).
Alex began racing in competitions sponsored by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) four years ago. She has raced on more than 40 different horses from California to South Carolina and in Canada. Last winter she trained and raced in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, while taking a full course load, over the internet with her high school, The Village in Colorado Springs, CO.
The goal of a 75- or 100-mile endurance race is for the horse to complete several loops of a marked course over rugged terrain, finishing sound and healthy after regular checks by vets throughout the race. A 100-mile / 160 km race takes anywhere from 10 to 24 hours.
The rider must know her horse well in order to prevent dehydration, metabolic issues and fatigue. The rider/horse bond must be extremely strong, as a horse may struggle to tell that it is in pain. Winning is not the only goal; completing personal bests for the horse and rider is also important.
Alex said, “For me the goal is to get the best performance possible from my horse that day, based on conditions and how my horse is feeling. The horses want to win too, and sometimes I need to hold my mounts back, to keep the safe.”
Because endurance racing is not an Olympic sport, athletes must raise money to fly their horse and themselves to the championships, and must pay their own costs while competing. Those expenses are expected to be about $30,000 for the Young Rider World Championship. Alex has started a gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/send-alex-and-dudeendurance-world-championship.
“One of my dreams is to help build the endurance program in the U.S. so that the best young riders can be matched with the best horses, regardless of financial circumstances,” said Alex.
Alex is the daughter of Terry Shampoe and Aileen Ellis, 19 year residents of Colorado Springs. She is the brother of Nick Shampoe, a Division One runner at Arizona State University. They board their horses at Echo Valley Training Center in Woodland Park, CO.
For more information, please contact Aileen Ellis at 719-659-3658. Alex will be available for phone interviews now through August 31. At that point, she and Dude board a plane for Italy and the World Championships.