Between incomplete construction onsite, Hurricane Florence barreling toward the coast of Carolinas, and questionable housing arrangements for grooms, the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, NC have been off to a rocky start.
The trend in wince-worthy moments continued on the first day of competition with endurance.
Several horse/athlete combinations competing in the sole endurance competition at WEG were “misdirected” at the beginning of the course this morning, prompting the FEI to declare a false start.
The error was both unexpected and difficult to comprehend at a championship level. (Was there an Oscars-like mishap and someone was handed the wrong envelope before announcing which direction to take off in? Did a gust of wind offset a sign, Looney Toons style, to point the exact opposite way?)
After noticing the misdirection, competition was halted at the first vet gate and restarted as a 120 kilometer course 45 minutes after the last horse had been inspected. WEG is slated as a 100 mile/160 kilometer course.
A press release on the confusion stated:
“As there is no possibility to reschedule the ride tomorrow, the President of the Ground Jury, President of the Veterinary Commission, Foreign Veterinary Delegate and the Organising Committee agreed that this was the only pragmatic solution.
“This is in line with the preamble to the FEI Endurance Rules which state: ‘in any unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, it is the duty of the Ground Jury and the Veterinarians to make a decision in a sporting spirit and approaching, as nearly as possible, to the intention of these rules and of the General Rules of the FEI.'”
The FEI has tasked the independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU) onsite at Tryon to do a full investigation into the circumstances that resulted in the misdirection. The conclusions of that report will be made public.
As the day went on, the news only got worse for endurance riders.
Around 6:00 pm EDT, a second release was issued from WEG announcing that the remainder of Wednesday’s competition had be cancelled “due to a potentially dangerously high combination of heat and humidity, and the conditions out on the trail following heavy rain this afternoon.”
Data from the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index showed a reading of 31. Temperatures over 25 are monitored closely.
The decision to cancel was unanimous between the President of the Ground Jury, Technical Delegate and President of the Veterinary Commission, and the Organising Committee.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was done with horse and athlete welfare in mind as the conditions this afternoon after the rain resulted in extremely high levels of humidity and, combined with rising heat, it was deemed unsafe to continue the ride,” said President of the Veterinary Commission Thomas Timmons.
So concludes the endurance portion of WEG.