The remainder of the Meydan-sponsored endurance competition today (Wednesday, 12 September) at the World Equestrian Games has been cancelled as weather conditions posed an “unacceptable risk” to horse welfare.
The ground jury president, organisers, technical delegates and vets agreed unanimously to stop the event, after heavy rain this afternoon.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was done with horse and athlete welfare in mind as the conditions this afternoon after the rain resulted in extremely high levels of humidity and, combined with rising heat, it was deemed unsafe to continue the ride,” veterinary commission president Thomas Timmons said.
British scientist Dr David Marlin, who has been working on heat and humidity studies for the FEI since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, provided the ground jury with data from the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index which showed a reading of 31. Anything over 25 is “monitored very closely”, and the officials agreed unanimously that 31 “presented an unacceptable risk to horse welfare”.
The cancellation followed chaotic scenes at Tryon International Equestrian Center today, after a decision was taken to restart the ride as some competitors had been directed the wrong way by officials soon after the start.
The FEI has now asked the independent equestrian community integrity unit to investigate the circumstances resulting in the misdirection.
“The investigation will include interviews with the officials, volunteers, organising committee and all other relevant personnel to provide a full picture of what happened,” said an FEI statement.
“The findings will be presented to the FEI Bureau and the conclusions will then be made public.”
North Carolina is one of a number of states bracing themselves for the arrival of Hurricane Florence, which is due to hit this week.
Today’s update from the National Weather Service said the storm is “expected to make landfall near the North and South Carolina coastal border on Friday evening”.
The forecast for Tryon is heavy rain on Sunday evening into Monday and possibly Tuesday, with winds peaking on Sunday evening at 30mph with gusts of up to 40mph.
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“Thunderstorms today and tomorrow afternoon are not related to Hurricane Florence,” said a statement from WEG organisers. “Currently there is no change to the arranged flights for competing horses.”
Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news onand in the magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.