Sartilly, France - On Thursday morning, 165 horse-and-rider combinations set out on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games endurance course. Covering stretches of sandy beaches, wooded trails, and town streets, Jeremy Olson (La Motte, Iowa), riding his and Amy Wallace-Whelan's Wallace Hill Shade, were one of only 38 combinations to complete the trying course.
Rain throughout the week created difficult footing, leaving teams to strategize how best to handle the 160 km trail.
Coming through the first vet gate, Olson was in 51st place. He took the course steadily throughout the day, a strategy which allowed him to climb the ranks by the end, finishing in 31st place with a time of 10:46:16.
Riding his entire life, Olson grew up around the sport of endurance with both his parents and sister being active competitors. Olson was placed on the team as an alternate; however, after teammate Meg Sleeper decided it would be in the best interest of her mount, Syrocco Reveille, to be withdrawn from competition, Olson was ready to make his World Equestrian Games debut.
Coming into the Championship, Olson had a second-place finish in the Broxton Bridge Fundraiser CEI3* riding Wallace Hill Shade. He then scored a win in the CEI1* at the Zone Team Endurance Challenge with Noslo's RRenaldo.
Fellow U.S. Endurance combinations were unable to overcome the challenges Thursday would pose, as they were withdrawn at vet gates throughout the day, ensuring the horse's welfare was held as the utmost priority.
Spain was victorious in the Team Championship to take home the Gold medal with a total combined time of 28:56:02. France claimed the team Silver medal and Switzerland earned the Bronze medal.
The Individual Gold medal was awarded to Sheik Hamdan bin Mohamed Al Maktoum, who rode his mare, Yamamah, in a total time of 8:08:28. Marijke Visser and Laiza de Jalima earned the Silver medal, and Bronze went to Abdulrahman Saad A.S.Al Sulaiteen riding Koheilan Kincso.
For more information on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, visit www.normandy2014.com
Follow the 2014 U.S. Endurance Team here.