Recently I shared a post from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that said the discipline of Reining would be ejected from the FEI at the end of 2019. This is the first time, ever, an equestrian discipline has been ejected. Why reining? Here is the statement from the FEI.
“Areas of concern: minimum horse ages, stewarding and anti-doping policy, and the money driven approach of the National Horse Reining Association ( NHRA) compared with the FEI’s performance based ideals. “FEI
Well, let me tell you that statement , even on my Horse Addict Leueen Facebook page, generated an outcry. If they were going to eject Reining then why not Endurance. While there are Endurance riders who abide by the rules, and put the welfare of the horse first, there a many from one region who do not. For years stories of abuse of horses in Endurance races, in certain areas of the world, have abounded. There have been photos and videos of horses with broken legs, horses being chased by cars and so on. But I am not going to show any of those,the only photos I will show are photos taken of the live feeds in the media center at the WEG in Tryon last year, where Endurance competition started but had to be cancelled due to heat concerns and other mishaps. So no abuse photos. Instead I am going to suggest an alternative sport for those Endurance riders who live in desert regions and are looking for an extreme sport.
The Ultra Marathon.
I only recently learned of this extreme sport . I read a marvelous book titled: “Finding Gobi” written by Ultra Marathoner Dion Leonard. This is a wonderful story of a man and a dog and I recommend it highly but…… back to Ultra Marathon. Here is how Dion describes it.
“…a team of race organizers had plotted a 155 mile route that took in those freezing peaks, the incessant wind and that desolate , lifeless scrubland known as the Gobi Desert. I was going to run across it, knocking out a little less than a marathon a day for four days, then almost two marathons on the fifth day and an hour-long sprint for the final six mile stage that would bring the race to a close. People like me pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of putting ourselves through pure agony, shedding up to 10 percent of our body weight in the process but it’s worth it. We get to run in some of the remotest and most picturesque parts of the world and we have the safety net of a dedicated support crew and highly trained medical crew on our side. Sometimes these challenges can be excruciating , but they’re also life changing, and reaching the finish line is one of life’s most rewarding experiences.”Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard.
Hey! The FEI describes the equestrian discipline of Endurance in a similar way. “Riding extreme distances across breathtaking landscapes.”
In the Gobi race Dion endured 132 degree heat and turned back to assist another racer who had gone down in the extreme heat. Ultra Marathon is truly an extreme sport. But these people choose to do it and force themselves on. Horses, in certain regions of the world, do not choose to do it and are forced by humans to keep going.
So what has this got to do with Endurance? Well, all those riders, who ride in a certain region of the world, and are well used to deserts, should give up Endurance and take up Ultra Marathon. That way horses would be spared and those riders would have an extreme sport where they would have to find the motivation within themselves.