Six experienced young endurance riders will be vying for gold at the FEI World Young Rider Championships in Bahrain (17 December). Endurance GB named the six-strong team following strong performances at the final team selection ride at Sherwood recently.
Four of the horse and rider combinations will journey to Bahrain at the beginning of December in order to start acclimatising their horses to the fierce Middle-Eastern temperatures. The remaining two are already based in Dubai, ensuring their horses are well used to the hot conditions.
“Acclimatisation will be the biggest single difficulty”, says Endurance GB international chairman Maggie Maguire. “The British-based horses will be used to winter conditions.”
Zara Moon and Philip Hirst have both been selected to represent Britain for a second time. Moon, who is last year’s EGB overall champion, will be partnering her International horse Yamavah. Dubai-based Hirst will be riding his mother’s Vlaq Khamul.
Anna Williams is another experienced team member, who has represented Britain on two previous occasions. Wiliams will be partnering the eight-year-old H S Saboteur, who completed his first 120km in one day at Cirencester 2005. Alice Beet from Surrey will be partnering Harmatan de Lozere, who she qualified in Dubai last year, and Gemma Parkin, from Derbyshire will be riding Lutandorvici.
Abigail Lockett, from Stafford has been selected with the experienced Delorto Zaranz, who has already competed abroad at Wicklow Hills 1999 and was at the WEG in Jerez in 2002. Winscombe-based Rachel Harvey is reserve with Sarah Ryson’s Prince Imperial.
“All the young riders are excellent,” Maguire says. “They have all had a lot of success.”
Competitors will be required to journey 120km through the desert during the course of one day. “Consistent cantering in a rhythm is the key to conserving energy,” says Maggie Maguire, “In this country rides often require lots of stopping and starting but in the desert you can pretty much canter the whole ride”.
Each of the riders has completed at least one 120km endurance ride since November last year and are accustomed to pacing distances according to the physical build of their horse and the terrain and weather conditions.
They will all use heart monitors to check the conditions of their horse throughout the course of the Championship ride and will be required to present their horse to the vet at various set intervals to be checked as fit to continue.
“It is a considerable test,” Maguire explains, “It is all about doing it within the capabilities of the horse”.
The team will be given advice by team vet Adam Driver who has spent the last two winters in Dubai and who understands the conditions and the impact they have on foreign horses.