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Japan: The People
Images by John and Steph
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...Story - part 2

Our own involvement with Seiichi Hasumi and his new passion began in 2004. John and I organized two FEI 100’s that year, trying to offer opportunity for riders and horses to qualify for the next World Championship in Dubai, January 2005. That summer I received a phone call from a very nice and polite Japanese man – Yaguchi – asking about the ride, about Oreana, about Idaho, etc etc. Very very thorough, many questions. Hotels, transporation, trail, facilities, so many questions. In the throes of organizing the ride, I didn’t get a chance to talk much with Hasumi’s group, but they came, they rode and he finished (top ten and high vet score) on his new horse Fayette de Cameo and he was qualified for Dubai.

The next time I saw Hasumi was in Dubai – I recognized him right away (how could I miss this Japanese bundle of energy! ) – his warm smile and quick laugh. We talked a little bit and he suggested having dinner together. Great idea! I was in Dubai with the Argentine group, having come over early as groom for my good friend Mercedes Tapia. So we all spent a wonderful evening at the Bab al Shams hotel – Mercedes and Eduardo from Argentin, Seiichi and Harumi Hasumi, and Yaguchi - dinner and spirits and good company. Hasumi told us his story – his Tevis dream – and how he was now totally hooked on the sport. It has only been a few short years since Hasumi’s Tevis adventure started, but this sport seems to forge new friendships easily – and quickly.

Our next encounter with this formidable Japanese Endurance force came this spring. In May I received some emails from Yaguchi, who lives in Seattle. He had many questions about FEI – about competing and organizing – and perhaps he could call us and ask some questions? Sure – Yaguchi is such a nice and thoughtful man, and it was a bit flattering to be considered ‘expert’ enough to answer questions. I talked with Yaguchi over the phone for quite a while. Hasumi was frustrated with having to ride outside his country on leased horses in order to qualify for FEI Championships, he wanted to start an FEI Endurance program in Japan – and Yaguchi’s job was to figure out if it was possible – and if so, how to get started. I encouraged Yaguchi – assured him it was not impossible, and really not that difficult. They had the trail, and a basecamp, and the rest would come. Yaguchi asked if he could fly over and spend a day with us in Oreana – to further discuss the project. Again – I was delighted to be able to help, and excited about being part of such a project – helping these people stage Japan’s first International Endurance ride. Steak dinner and a glass of wine on the deck, new friendship, and we wished him the best of luck in his endeavor as he left to catch a plane back to Seattle.

We kept in touch with Yaguchi – forwarding information, documents, ideas. Hasumi had failed to complete his 2006 WEC qualification ride on a leased horse in Germany and would not be able to ride for Japan in Aachen. The next opportunity would be Malaysia in 2008. Why not pull everything together for a CEI*** in 2007, and use the ride to qualify their own riders on their own horses? Hasumi’s group was becoming quite encouraged about organizing an FEI ride – not an impossible task, and we gave him suggestions for putting together an experienced group of FEI officials that could help. He approached Dinah Rojek about being their foreign Technical Delegate. Of course! A chance to return to Japan (Dinah had spent a summer in Japan as a student years ago) and the opportunity to help a group start an FEI Endurance program – a fresh and eager group with a strong desire to do it right, from start to finish.

Another email from Yaguchi in July – so – perhaps Ms. Rojek would consider coming to Japan in early October for more discussion, and to preview and advise on the trail and camp facilities.. and perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Teeter would come also and advise on behalf of experienced FEI ride organizers? Lets see … pretty busy through August and September, but finished with our 5-day ride on October 1 … fly to Japan on October 4? No problem!

Everything – and everything! was arranged for us. Yaguchi emailed us a full itinerary – each day and night was scheduled – from airport pickup on October 5 to delivery back at Narita airport on October 11. I had been so busy in the weeks before our trip that I only had time for a quick glance at the itinerary, but had full faith in Yaguchi. This was going to be a busy week, but how nice not to have to think about any of the logistics! After a week of managing our 5-day ride (and John had to leave suddenly on a business trip the first day of the ride, so it was double duty for me) I was so exhausted from managing all of the details of our ride that the idea of a ‘think free’ week in Japan was pure heaven. John and I met up again the morning of the flight (he having just flown back into Boise and me having been up most of the night finishing ride results and packing) said hello, staggered onto the plane, met up with Dinah and Yaguchi in San Francisco, boarded a jumbo 747 and headed East!

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