To Dr Nik Isahak Wan Abdullah
I do not know much at all about endurance in Malaysia, but would like to learn. You said in a recent post:
You say, "We do not know the undercurrent of politics behind this but having the right people saying the right things for Malaysia is not a loss .The PR job has yet to be done internationally otherwise we may find WEC 2008 shifted to Doha or Dubai .PR savvy does not mean we need to expand a lot of money but the right press and endurance people need to be 'invited' ."
What can I do here in Australia to "say the right thing for Malaysia"?
What do you want said in order to convince all endurance riders that the WEC should stay in Malaysia?
How can I help make sure that Australians know about what riding conditions are like where the WEC is scheduled for, and how can I explain to Australians the best conditions in which to train their horses for a ride there? We don't know what the track will be like, and we don't know what the conditions will be like.
I know many Australian endurance riders who are hoping to qualify for this ride, however they would like more detailed information about it. What can I do to help?
I train horses in Queensland, with some measure of success, and am also hoping to have horses qualified for this ride. I am also willing to visit the area in advance in order to get a first-hand view.
Please let me know what I need to know. Please let me know who to contact for this information if you are unable to help.
SPLENDACREST ENDURANCE TRAINING
I have ridden only once in Australia,ie Camberra 2001 in april and it was cold .I am not sure you Australians ride in summer .Your summer can be pretty hot too especially Queensland though what limits performance is really humidity .If you can ride in summer near the beach perhaps this could mimick Malaysia but remember the ride would probably start in the late evening .So it is cooler.
There is no danger in riding in the tropic except I think the ride could be won or lost at an average speed of probably less than 15 kph . If you can do beyond that probably you have a horse from heaven .I have a particularly talented horse from your colleague Peter Toft 2 years back that finished 1st in our ist 160 ride 2 years ago and I do not think I beat the 11 kph barrier but then again you may say this is our 1st 160 in the country and the horse's 1st 160 as well .But I was at least 1 hour ahead of the competitions .
International horses,well conditioned for the tropics ,with experienced riders like the Tofts,Kanavies or Liesens and suprior horseswith good genetics may do better but as I say for the moment I like to see one that beat the 15 kph barrier .It is tough for the horse and tough for the rider as well ,which is endurance .
My gut feeling for the moment is if any horse rider combination can beat the current COC of 12 kph average in Malaysia that would automatically deserve a 1st team placing for the WEC 2008 and from there we would work for the speed .But this is just gut feeling,no sicentific data . Your Peter Toft has ridden some small rides in Sabah ,Malaysia years back and could give you good imput but that was the time when we were looking at 105 km as abridge too far .
The bottomline is WEC in Malaysia is dowable ,rider's skill ,wisdom and endurance will be put to a severe test and it would be a 100 times more interesting than racing somewhere on a 160 km racetrack .
We are having a 160 km ride end of this month but since there has been a long lay off and most of the horses are young this is not the crucible that one would like or can make conclusions from .
Dr Nik Isahak
I will be travelling to Terennganu for the Nov 25 event (Event Coverage Pages). I've ridden twice in Malaysia at the venue outside of Kuala Lumpur where the terrain is rolling, and rocky in places. I understand that Terennganu (the venue for the 2008 WEC) is flat and has little or no rock, it is near the beach (east coast) so there may be sand, but I think they are actually grooming most of the course to make it as 'kind' as possible. It's
the monsoon season in this part of the world, so it will probably be raining some of the time. And they run much of the rides at night when temperatures are coolest.
There should be no reason that horse's can't do 160km WEC in Malaysia, but I think that FEI will have to adjust the time/speed requirement and allow competitors the entire 24 hours to compete. It's pretty unlikely that there will be many horses capable of finishing in the 9 - 13 hour range that have become norm for WECs.
I will know more after this ride!
Personally, I think this is probably a mistake. Rocks would provide an incentive for riders to slow themselves down, and those that don't will more
likely be eliminated for lameness before the horse runs into serious metabolic problems.
I haven't seen any indication that riders at WECs are willing to slow themselves down because there is a chance that their horse will overheat (and
die??) if they don't.
Overheating is something that sneaks up on you, such that by the time many people are aware of it in their horse it is too late to do much about it.
Sand, heat, and humidity with no hills or rocks to obviously slow the riders down sounds to me like a course designed to encourage riders to push their
horses as close to the overheating edge as possible without going over it. And the "race" (which at a WEC is all there is) will go to the rider who does so.
However, failures in the "race" will go to those who a) exercise a bit of prudence and stay well away from the edge (presumably something you want to
encourage, but a flat, fast course does not do this) and b) those who misjudge this edge (since few people actually know where it is) and their horses fall
I say, scatter rocks all over the course (or at least, in quite a few strategic places). And by all means, allow more time to complete the course. It would
be a lot "kinder" to the horses if there is something besides just hoping that the riders show good sense to keep riders from running their horses into the
ground; and it certainly would be a lot kinder to the horses if the riders aren't REQUIRED by cut off times to run their horses into the ground.
Orange County, Calif.
The WEC is a race - first and formost. There is not question in the FEI world what champion means - it means the first across the finish line on that given day just like the KY Derby champion is the first across the finish line the first Saturday in May.
As for rocks it sounds like the course is covered with rocks - maybe very small rocks but rocks just the same ;-) .
Don't fool yourself into thinking that the sand will not take it's toll an produce lame horses - it will, especially those horses that have not trained in it.
I am fully aware of that. Which is why I said that it is unreasonable to expect the prudence of riders to slow the horses down and that imprudent riders
will either get away with it (and win) or kill their horses.
Put some rocks on the trail and it will encourage prudence in the riders; while those riders that are imprudent will make their horse foot sore and be pulled
from the competition before they have a chance to kill the horse. If there isn't something on the course to slow the horses down besides the prudence of
the rider, then my bet is that horses will be dropping like flies.
I consider it a toss up whether sand will cause the horses of imprudent riders to go lame first or the heat will cause these horses to die first. Especially
since working in sand, in addition to producing lameness also produces a lot of heat. I guess it depends on how hot it is and how deep the sand is.
I think if you look at the times from the rides that have been done in Malaysia before, you will find that they are very conservative and the pull rate was quite high. In order for Malaysia to have a rider in the WEC this last year, they had to qualify outside the country because, it isn't possible to finish a 160km in under 13:20.
Also, have you ever had your horse vetted as an FEI horse? From observing the vetting at Fort Howes and listening to other FEI riders, those vets are all over those horses and will not allow a horse that is even showing the slightest bit of metabolic issues continue and if your horse makes one wrong step on the trot out, you're done. So please give the riders and horses at that calliber and the vets some credit.
What you say is true about the strict vetting at FEI rides. But please look at the treatment rates some of WEC rides. Horses do get into trouble. Even with strict vetting at these events, horses do need treatment. Strict vetting will not make up for riders that take their horses over the edge between vet checks. Rider responsibility should come first. That goes for FEI events as well as AERC events.
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