Fundraising to get New Zealand’s endurance team to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games has started in earnest, with a seminar in Christchurch among the first of several events around the country.
More than 30 spectators attended Sunday’s seminar, a fundraiser for the New Zealand team which is sending five riders and their horses to France for the Games in Normandy later this year.
It is estimated that it will cost each team member about $60,000 to get their horse and team including grooms to France and back.
The first speaker at the seminar was North Canterbury endurance trainer Chris King, whose horse Northwinds Apollo has been named in the WEG team, to be ridden by Nelson’s Alison Higgins. King spoke about preparing the endurance horse from novice through to FEI level. She shared her philosophy on bringing horses through the ranks, which included starting the horse under saddle at four, and commencing their endurance careers at the age of five.
Rolleston Veterinarian Clinic owner Dr Nick Page talked about what vets look for when they are examining an endurance horse. Page, who is an FEI 4* veterinarian, is also the team vet for New Zealand Endurance and will travel to France with the team. Several questions on horse health and vetting procedures came from the audience, with a suggestion that riders may benefit from a rider representative to liaise between themselves and the veterinarians.
Some of the sport’s major sponsors also gave presentations at the seminar, including Fiber Fresh’s Bronny Scott, who discussed the importance of fibre in the horse’s diet and its benefits for endurance horses. Scott, an eventing competitor and racehorse owner, as well as an equine nutritionist, shared her wealth of knowledge on the horse’s digestive tract.
Ursula Keenan of Equestrian Online talked about the importance of looking after the horse’s legs, and with the help of equine leg models, showed the correct way to boot and bandage an endurance horse. She showed several used boots that had been damaged during use, thus saving the horse from more serious injury. Keenan, a long-time endurance rider, also talked about new leg protection products available to horses owners, including those that did not absorb sweat and retain heat.
Jenna Swift of Ashburton company FourFlax talked about the benefits of feeding oil to horses, and how the company’s linseed-based product was developed. Swift explained that FourFlax is the country’s largest producer of cold-pressed, New Zealand grown Flax Seed Oil and Fibre, with more than 260 stockists. The company also offers Apple Cider Vinegar, and Swift answered questions on feeding rates and other aspects of both products.
The seminar, at the Hornby Bowling Club, was organised by New Zealand Endurance board members Barbara Avery, Shane Dougan, and Warren James.