Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jay's Fernvale FEI ride report, Australia

As we left home early Saturday morning, the weather report stated that Cyclone Hamish was moving south along the coast and that SE Qld could experience wet weather on Sunday! Well, that meant a hasty addition of some wet weather clothing into the bag, as I HATE getting soaking wet while strapping!! (Even though I usually end up with wet shoes and wrinkly feet anyway!)

So Saturday was hot and dry as we arrived at the Fernvale Rodeo Grounds, where the newly-formed Fernvale Endurance Club has developed quite a good ride base. The prime movers of Caroline and Paul Fitzgerald, Peter and Penny Toft, Toby and Sue Crockett, and many other local endurance enthusiasts, were joined on the day by a wide selection of local Arabian Studs who are also getting very heavily involved in endurance riding in SE Qld. Thanks to all concerned, as the weekend was a huge success!

The weather throughout the day ranged from hot to hotter, with periods of very hot, and the river crossing was greatfully appreciated by most!

The prime focus of the ride was the Youth Challenge FEI** 120km, with the goal being for many entrants to qualify for the World Youth Championships in Hungary this September. Eleven young riders (all female) started the 120km ride, with 10 successful completions.... a BIG congratulations to all involved! Unfortunately, the one elimination was Splendacrest rider Tarni Kittel, after her lovely mount fell in a hole on the second stage of the ride. Commiserations Tarni, but I know that you are determined to try again!

The winner of this ride was Erin Krahnen, who also gained the Best Conditioned prize, as well as the "Best Presented" prize (a special award decided by Foreign Delegate Sarah Adams along with photographer Sue Crockett).

The FEI* 82km ride was hotly contested, with about 50 entries, and a winning time of about 4:30 by brothers Brook and Matthew Sample in a "gentleman's agreement" that saw Brook finish 1 second ahead of Matthew. For a 3-stage 82km ride over pretty hard terrain, this was a great finish, with reports coming in off track of the third-placed rider, Ben Caslick, trying his heart out to catch the Sample brothers in a gallop towards the end of the ride. The last 15km loop was completed in 28kph!

The Splendacrest Team had great results also in this ride, with Rod Strahan on Shardell Prince Ali (owned by Prutirat R. Serireongrith of Thailand) finishing in 7:24 for 17th placing (this young gelding's first open ride), Kristan Kershaw on Bullarto Fiorelli finishing in 7:26, and John Dugan on Performance Park Lady Kharisma finishing in 7:26. Angela Head completed the Youth division, placing 6th on Dallas Blakely's lovely gelding.... congratulations Ang, and thanks to Dallas and Andrew! Our one casualty in the 82km ride was Gerard Bou on Splendacrest Fiesta, who unfortunately vetted out at the re-present before the third leg due to the extreme heat, with a high heartrate! But as with every vet-out, it was a learning experience for us all.

The 45km training ride saw about 30 horses set off at daybreak, with Splendacrest fielding 5 of them! Three of my new riders were doing their second qualifying training ride, and Ted Fitzgerald was roped in to ride Shardell Prince Valiant (a huge brown Anglo owned by Rod Strahan) in his very first outing. Lisa Roosen (who has moved here from The Netherlands) rode Mt Eerwah Silver Mariner (aka Pete), Marcia Burger (who has moved here from South Africa) rode Splendacrest Zhateau, and young Steph Tulk was mounted on Splendacrest Ulysses, and all were successful in gaining their "Novice rider" qualification by completing this second training ride. Ted also completed the course, with Prince Valiant attracting plenty of attention!

Many of you may remember a crazy German girl that used to ride for Splendacrest 5 years ago.... Clio Rauch. During her three years with us here (while she was attending University in Australia), Clio was a regular rider and became very successful. Then she had to go home after Uni, and we have missed her dreadfully. Well, SHE'S BACK! Yes, Clio has returned to Australia to take up endurance riding again, having not had the chance to do any in the past 5 years! She arrived last Wednesday night, slept in on Thursday morning (jet lag), jumped on a horse on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, received her QERA membership card in the mail on Friday (thanks Dee!), and then travelled with us to Fernvale on Saturday, and rode my lovely stallion Splendacrest Zafire in the training ride on Sunday!

Clio used to ride Zafire's sire, Zakah Zahara, when she was with us years ago.... in fact she completed a Quilty and an Easter Marathon on him too!

So, there she was on Sunday, grinning from ear to ear, saying 'hello' to friends she hasn't seen in years, and riding Zak's son Zafire in his second ever outing for a great completion, and gaining the "Best Presented" prize as well!! WOW! She hasn't stopped smiling yet!

Another new addition to the Splendacrest Team is Johan de Bruto, who has moved to Australia from South Africa, and who is an experienced endurance rider. Johan spent the weekend with us in strapping mode, and became very envious of all those riding. He also took lots of great photos of the weekend, and seemed to enjoy his first experience of endurance in Australia. Thanks Johan, for all your hard work over the weekend. (Oh, and by the way, Johan also turned up on Saturday with an esky of beer.... I think he'll fit right in here!!)

We were also joined on Sunday by Bert Hartog, who some of you may know. Bert is well known in the 'other' disciplines, especially dressage and vaulting, and is now interested in learning about endurance riding with a view to possible becoming involved in the sport. So Bert took the time to come and crew for our team in order to learn a little about the sport, and he was a very handy and capable strapper!! Thanks Bert, for your assistance on the weekend, and I hope you learned a lot!

The team cannot survive without Shane Hopkins, who is always there to put a shoe on, or to make sandwiches, or to run to the store to get ice (and boy! did we need ice this weekend!!!), or to organise everything and anything! Thanks Shane, for once again being an intregal part of the Splendacrest Team!

There was much comment over the weekend about the new FEI rules, and some confusion about the requirements to qualify for further FEI rides. The added expense of FEI rides will certainly keep many people away, however I am sure that if people would just try it out they would enjoy the experience. The weekend was well run by the Fernvale Club, and we had a great time!

The promised rain did not happen, however Cyclone Hamish is causing some grief up north, and today it is a bit windy and overcast here. Hope everyone else had a great weekend, whatever you were doing!

Jay Randle

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