A difficult day at world endurance championships

Meg Sleeper of Kingwood is in Slovakia, where she represented the U.S.in the FEI Endurance World Championships. It didn’t go well overall, but I’ll let her tell you about it:

meg sleeper x and Rimbaud 300dpi
Meg Sleeper and Rimbaud.

I had hoped my post today would be good news, but unfortunately it is not (although I am thrilled that Rabi and Fernando finished in a ride time of about 8 1/2 hours). Mr Ono was still out on trail when we left the barn, but was due to finish soon. Hopefully that will mean 2 USA horses finish.

Unfortunately, neither USA team horse finished. Tom and Reinman were pulled at the 3rd gate for lameness and Rim and I were eliminated at the 4th gate (88 miles) for lameness. Fortunately, neither lameness was severe and both horses will be fine to compete another day.

Rim was fabulous all day with very good heart rate recoveries and he ate like a pig at every check. I was really proud of him. It is hard to put into words how one feels after a pull at this kind of event. It is awesome just to be selected to represent the USA, but of course the idea is to do well and there are so many people that give so much to make it possible for us to be here, it is rather demoralizing to feel like you are letting everyone down.

However, there were good parts of the day. About 8 miles in on the second loop, the bolt of my stirrup broke and I had to ride about 3 miles without a stirrup (after dismounting to pick up what was left and then having a little difficulty getting back on the big guy. I basically just cantered as much as possible).

At the next PC stop, Carol Giles tried zip tying it back together, but that only held about 100 yards and I was back at square one. She ended up tying a loop of string though the stirrup leather and I put my foot in that. It gave me some support and I was able to make reasonable time, although I probably lost over 20 minutes all together (and my riding was definitely pretty bad for the next 12 miles until I got the stirrups replaced at the vet gate). That part was not good, but so many people tried to offer help and that part was great.

The ride volunteers at the water spots were also incredibly kind and helpful. Perhaps the worst part of the day, and something that many know who have followed on FB, is that a horse fractured his/her leg and was put down on the trail. I have avoided looking at any videos or pictures but it is horrific and I am so thankful that Rim and Rabi are safe. I feel my (our) sport has been usurped from us and it has become something that is not endurance. The most “endurance like” part of this ride for me was riding without a stirrup, but the trail itself was flat and fast…much more like an extended flat race than an endurance ride. I want my sport back and I hate that something like this had to happen, but I hope we can finally get change.

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