Fri, Sep 14, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Botched endurance event called off at Equestrian Games

AFP, TRYON, North Carolina

The opening-day endurance event of the World Equestrian Games was on Wednesday canceled due to heat and humidity following heavy rain after organizers sent several riders off in the wrong direction.

The endurance race, the first event in the four-yearly equine sports festival that runs through Sept. 23, was initially to take place over 160km.

However, several riders were led the wrong way by stewards and volunteers, forcing organizers to stop the race after 40km and plans were made to finish the competition over 120km.

However, that idea was scuttled by heavy rain that left steamy and unsafe conditions for horses and riders along the trail.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was done with horse and athlete welfare in mind,” said Thomas Timmons, president of the veterinary commission. “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.”

The International Federation for Equestrian Sports said it would investigate the circumstances surrounding the misdirection of horses and riders.

The event had been originally scheduled for Bromont, Canada, but final funding was not approved and organizers withdrew.

Tryon, a village of 1,650, took up the torch in July 2016 under the leadership of Mark Bellissimo, an owner of equestrian centers and organizer of equestrian events.

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