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IntNewsGroup: UAE Presidents Cup - Report from USET VP of Endurance
February 9, 2002
From: Art Priesz Jr., USET VP of Endurance, USA Chef d'Equipe
THE LEARNING CURVE
The posts from here in the UAE recounting Tom Johnson's race against an
endurance horse over 50 miles and regarding the 100 mile President's Cup are
helpful and important for a number of reasons.
The basic point of all of those reasons is this: We (Americans, Europeans,
Arabs from the Emirates or elsewhere, Asians and others) all have even more
to learn about ourselves, each other and our equine partners. The important
thing is we are learning and are willing and able to continue doing so.
Four US riders competed in the President's Cup at the Al Wathba Endurance
Village near Abu Dhabi this last Thursday. Heather Bergantz on Red, Marcia
Smith, DVM, on Saamson, Hal Hall on Thunder and Jan Worthington on Bon Vi
Vant (owned and offered by Shk. Faisal of Rosalkama, UAE.
Three completed, placing very well under very different circumstances for
each of them and their horses.
Heather's 11th place finish was impressive for what it demonstrated about
her and her crew's ability to safely get a solid ride out of a premier horse
on its first overseas trip, while still saving that horse as a likely US
Endurance National Team nominee. The horses each of these successful riders
were competing against had not spent a season competing hard as each of
these horses had, and most US horses and riders do. They were pointed to
this race. It is not a matter of one way being better; it's just a matter
of recognizing the difference and competing within it safely and
As well, Marcia came in and also put together a solid performance, despite
some small "officiating" bumps which were quickly resolved and which, to her
credit, did not derail her concentration. She also coasted Saamson in on
the final loop as she continued to look forward to preserving his potential
to nominate to represent her country in the upcoming WEG.
One problem in USET's, the Active Riders' Committee's and AERC
International's plan or wish for a more activist approach to team-building
and team staff (Chef d'Equipe and Team Vet, primarilly) attention and
attendance of International events and clinics, etc. is meeting these riders
again, or better, and meeting some you've heard of but never met. The
team-building is working. Our performances are improving. But, you end up
wishing for a team of hundreds, not just 6 plus 9 alternates. They all
become your "favorites".
That is true for both Heather and Marcia, and for Jennifer and Salime from
Al Wathba Stables, and for Tom, Jeremy and a tireless and intense but upbeat
Skip. It's true for Jan and Grace after Jan's unexpected retirement from
the race after 105km, when they went out on the last loop to help crew and
follow the other 3 Americans in.
And it's also so very true for Hal Hall, and notably his family. Hal always
appeared, at check-in and inspection, in full USET uniform, in a pleasant
mood, willing to listen and freely provide plain-spoken and complete
information, and competed hard and safely on a relatively young horse
(8y.o.) for experience and for the horse's future. Hal and Thunder moved up
throughout the day as discussed and planned from 37th to 30th to 25th to
eventually a 15th place finish. And he was very well crewed. Ann and the
kids were efficient and happy and on top of everything. Hal may not be a
nominee for the 2002 WEG, but I surely do hope he and his family come
anyway, and that we have him as a future nominee.
See what I mean? They all become your favorites. I anticipate filling out
a very long Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosure. That is part of the
point, though. The Endurance Family for all of us is large and expanding.
Two years ago, the UAE Federation and its officials were dismayed and,
surprisingly even, opposed to US Team officials and staff attending these
individual events, even when 3 or more US competitors were involved (3 is
the number at which the FEI recommends and authorizes Chef participation.)
It might be fairly stated there was some feeling that US opinion and good
will was not a necessary component of the growth of international endurance
(my perception). That has changed significantly. We are welcomed now.
It has changed because we have stepped up to speak and reason, not just
because "they" (infamous and dark words, "they" or "them") have listened.
Those discussions have come through participation, even constructive
argument. We have listened, too. All of us need to continue to do so.
Right now, Endurance in the US is only economically and by real service
supported by the USET and by the many and numerous AERC volunteers who have
stepped up to do so. Our NF may be changing and so real support from our NF
may occur in the future, but right now it is just us and the USET, which
continues to attempt to negotiate the details of a new NF to replace
AHSA/USAE, and give us true NF support.
For the coming WEG, there are consequences to us. The USET attempt to
displace or change the NF has been costly. Some staff changes have occurred
at the USET (not substantive program discipline staff, thank goodness, but
attempts to cost-save). The large donors from the other disciplines who
have carried us in the past, are waiting for the proverbial dust to clear.
We cannot afford to do so.
Our budget, to take 6 horses and crews and support to Jerez, which the USET
is trying to raise and retain is approximately $250,000. In truth, it may
end up slightly higher. We are going to the WEG to win, not just go around.
So, here is the deal. It is time for us to lead. We have been leaders in
fighting for the health and safety of our horses, in fighting for a level
international playing field, in fighting for equal and fair opportunities to
compete internationally and for our country, in fighting for rules, and in
fighting for a more responsive and more service-oriented NF. Now, we need
to fight for and promote our, and other discipline, opportunity(ies) to
compete at the WEG.
That means we need to donate and to raise money and sponsorships. Please
start thinking about this now, and what you can personally do, and suggest.
In being tapped to take the place of Maggie Price I was honored to carry on
her work for each of you. When I was named US Chef d'Equipe last year I was
honored and humbled, again, and a bit in awe of the responsibility. The
time and expense committment are significant, but all of you who ride and
care for your horses have made and make similar committments.
But I am now in the position of asking you to do more. On Thursday night,
after the race, I took part in the USET Board conference call discussing the
WEG budgets and other issues. In discussing this issue and in asking the
Board, including our NF representative to the Board, whether the current NF
could be expected to assist in the funding for the WEG, there was no answer
from the NF and a response from more experienced members of both Boards that
our current NF has not helped before (at least in recent times).
Obviously, that was not a pleasant way to end a day of such pride in our US
competitors in a far-away land. But, the learning curve continues.
I will be in touch with many of you, if not each of you, over the next
several months. I will be asking for your help in both money and ideas. If
you have a suggestion as to where to look or whom to ask or talk to, I will
go to do it. The goal is $500,000. I, we, you, need all of your help. We
can do it. And in doing it, we will both help, teach and continue to lead
others. Thanks in advance.
See you at convention and remember to relax, aprieszjr.
US Mail: 135 Eighth Avenue
Granite Falls, MN 56241
Home (if I'm there): 507-694-1751
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