Ottawa, ON, Dec. 19, 2013 - Robert Gielen of Flesherton, ON earned an exciting achievement at the 2013 CEI3* USEF North American Endurance Team Challenge (NAETC), held in Bronson, FL, USA on Dec. 13. Paired with his 16-year-old Arabian gelding, F.C. Galaxy, Gielen completed the 160 km (100 mile) race in the Goethe State Forest in a time of 9:06:36 hours for sixth place.
"I was very happy with Galaxy. He was the top Canadian horse here; we had our best time in a 100 mile ride, and our highest placing in a 100 mile competition, so I have to say I'm extremely happy," said Gielen, who is currently residing in Florida.
This latest achievement for Gielen and Galaxy joins an impressive list that already includes being the first Canadians to cross the finish line at the 2008 FEI World Endurance Championship in Malaysia, and the first North Americans to finish at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. And given the renowned difficulty of the NAETC, the sixth place finish is a welcome addition for Gielen.
"It's not like any other race. Typically in a 100 mile, 50 percent of the entries finish. But here, it is a nail biter all the way through," explained Gielen. "One of the factors here is that there is deep sand to contend with. But for me, it balances out a bit because I am familiar with the trail and so is my horse."
As for his future plans, Gielen explained that Galaxy has now achieved the necessary qualifications to be considered for the Canadian Endurance Team at the 2014 World Equestrian Games taking place next summer in Normandy, FRA.
"I'd like to take him to WEG. However, funding is always a huge issue when you have to fly a horse, so it will definitely depend on that," said Gielen, who finished 37th individually at the 2010 WEG, where only 55 out of 108 competitors finished the race.
Additional Canadians who completed this year's NAETC included Jaye Yavis of Winfield, AB aboard Lori Dinkelmann's eight-year-old Arabian gelding DCL Mooi Frangelico in 16th place, and Michelle Watling of Kirkfield, ON close behind in 18th place with her 18-year-old Arabian gelding, Klien.
Canada's four teams were joined by 11 American teams and one Mexican team at this year's NAETC. Both team and individual results were tracked, with USA Southeast B taking top team honours. Jeremy Reynolds of the USA Southeast B team earned the individual win. For more information and complete results, visit www.thegoethetrail.com/naetc.html.