Mill Spring, N.C.—Sept. 12
The Fédération Equestre Internationale announced at 5:56 p.m. that the remainder of today’s endurance championship has been canceled due to a high combination of heat and humidity and the conditions of the trail after heavy rain this afternoon.
Competitors and support crew were visibly upset and shouting at officials, some getting physical, near the endurance vet box at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, and police officers were called out to the venue.
Tensions were already high this morning when the race was restarted due to “misdirections” down the wrong loop of a trail.
The race was shortened to 120 kilometers and restarted at 11:15 a.m. The leading riders were expected to cross the finish line around 7 p.m. tonight and were on their third of four loops when the decision was made to cancel. As of 6:30 p.m., riders were continuing to be informed that the race was cancelled as they came into the vet box.
The decision to cancel the race was unanimous between president of the ground jury Jean-Pierre Allegret, technical delegate Rui Amante, president of the veterinary commission Thomas Timmons and the Organizing Committee.
The full FEI statement can be read below.
“The remainder of today’s endurance competition has been canceled due to a potentially dangerously high combination of heat and humidity, and the conditions out on the trail following heavy rain this afternoon. The decision to cancel, which is in accordance with FEI General Regulations, Article 109.12, was unanimous between the president of the ground jury, technical delegate and president of the veterinary commission and the Organising Committee.
“The decision is also in line with the FEI Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse, which states: c) Extreme weather: Competitions must not take place in extreme weather conditions that may compromise welfare or safety of the horse.
“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,” said Timmons.
British scientist Dr. David Marlin, who has been working on heat and humidity studies for the FEI since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, provided the ground jury with data from the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature 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.
“In addition, following this morning’s false start, the FEI has tasked the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit, which is onsite here at Tryon, to do a full investigation into the circumstances that resulted in some horse/athlete combinations being misdirected. The investigation will include interviews with the officials, volunteers, Organising Committee and all other relevant personnel to provide a full picture of what happened.
“The findings will be presented to the FEI Bureau, and the conclusions will then be made public,” the statement concluded.
U.S. Equestrian Federation Director of Sport Programs Will Connell commented on the cancellation. “We are thrilled with our horses, our team and their crews,” he said. “They all persevered through less than desirable conditions, and we are very proud of them. We understand that the race did not go as originally planned, but the team kept the welfare of their horses at the forefront and worked together. The U.S. Team had hoped to welcome the endurance world with a ride of very different quality.”
Check back with the Chronicle for updates on the endurance ride.
For full results, click here.
For everything you need to know, including broadcast schedules, click here.
For all WEG coverage, click here.
We’ll be onsite for the full two weeks of WEG to bring you all the news you need to know plus gorgeous photos and insight into the competition. Be sure to check out the Oct. 8 issue of the Chronicle for detailed analysis.