U.S. Endurance Team Ready to Rock & Role Despite Last Minute Rider Change

Endurance horses at the jog. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Endurance horses at the jog. Photo by Diana DeRosa

August 28th marks at full day of Endurance at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, which will take place in Sartilly and in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. Wednesday, August 27th was the day the jog took place and final decisions were made as to which horses would compete and which would not. The U.S. team was among those that did have changes to their line-up.

A late change in the order replaced one of the top members of the U.S. Endurance Team when for the good of the team Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Reveille were replaced by Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade, a 2002 Half Arabian gelding.

Meg’s 14-year-old mare has nothing to prove but was being watched carefully to see if she was still ready to go when the decision was made to make a horse change. Despite her disappointment, Meg supported the decision.

Once the announcement was made, a statement was released as follows, "After careful consideration, the team Vet, Chef d'Equipe and Selector have decided to substitute Jeremy Olson and Wallace Hill Shade for WEG 2014.  We share in Meg's deep disappointment and appreciate her continued commitment to team success. We thank Meg, her crew and supporters for all they have done and will continue to do to help the US Team, on race day, August 28."

In addition to Jeremy, representing the U.S. will be his wife Ellen who will be riding Farzad Faryadi’s Hot Desert Knight, a 2000 Arabian gelding. They aren’t the only husband and wife team as Heather (riding Chanses, a 2005 Arabian gelding) and Jeremy (riding his own RR Gold Dust Rising, a 2006 Arabian gelding) will also be competing. They will be joined by 18-year-old Kelsey Russell riding Valerie Kanavy’s My Wild Irish Gold, a 2003 Anglo Arab mare.

Jeremy’s horse was bred and is owned by Amy-Wallace-Whelan, who at the moment is recuperating from an accident sustained in the 650 mile Mongolian Derby which takes about 8 days to complete. They ride about 22 miles, with approximately 27 check points. The race took place earlier this month.  Unfortunately Amy fell at leg #17 where she sustained three factures to her collarbone when she was thrown from her Mongolian Horse. But despite not being in Normandy with her horse, she will be riding with Jeremy in spirit every step of the way.

Close to 200 horses are hopefully getting a good night’s sleep so that they are ready for the 7:00 a.m. kick-off of the 100 mile race. In addition to the riders all the support staff are also gearing up in hopes of a medal. The U.S. team has a great support staff this year anxious for the event to start as they have been working diligently towards this day.

Katherine Capps will continue to be part of Jeremy Olson’s support team and is looking forward to the big day. “After working with Jeremy and Ellen over the past three years and as the parent of a young rider I am thrilled to support them on race day. I came here to support them because I believe they have what it takes to be one of the top horse and rider teams in the world.”

Katherine Voyer, social media coordinator for US Endurance Athletes Association and part of the US Endurance Team, has been working hard to keep the Endurance world informed. “This is the third World Championship that we have been in place for with our goal to promote international Endurance. We started our Facebook page in 2012 and now we have 1741 likes on Facebook and 343 followers on twitter. It is heartwarming to see that we have followers from all over the world.”

Amy Wallace is one of those followers and even if she can’t be in France she’ll be watching the facebook page to keep updated on all that is happening.

Carolyn Hock, Vice President of the US Endurance Athletes Association (USEquineEndurance.org), has joined forces with Katherine to promote the sport of Endurance. “The US Endurance Athletes Association is pleased to support the rebirth and expansion of international Endurance,” Carolyn commented. “We have been fortunate to have Emmett Ross as Chef for the US Team. He brings a wealth of experience, management expertise, and strategic acumen to the US effort.  We have a terrific group of horses and riders at WEG this year.  We will do our best for the USA!”

Carolyn comes from understanding the Endurance world since she rode for the USA at the World Endurance Championship 2005 in Dubai.

Team photographer Becky Pearman (www.BeckyPearman.smugmug.com) was also gearing up for the big day noting, “After 25 years I’ve finally made it to the World Equestrian Games. Fifteen years ago I wanted to ride international Endurance. I never pursued it to that level and never made it on a horse but I made it in a different way. In reality I love taking pictures even more than I love to compete.”

Becky has been tracking the team with her cameras every step of the way and will be on course Thursday when the first horse leaves the starting gate and the last U.S. horse finishes the race.”

Becky’s love for photography began when her dad passed too soon when she was just 13 years old. As one of her fondest memories Becky’s mom gave Becky her father’s camera and, as they say, the rest is history.

A conversation with Becky revealed the fact that her dad was captured in Belgium during WWII, not far from Normandy and was kept in a German Prison Camp for 10 months. It was not something he would often talk about. He started out weighing 198 lbs. and came back 88 lbs. That alone lets you know what he endured.

It’s amazing how by simply chatting with a bunch of devoted supporters you can uncover a world of interesting details but all of that will be put aside as these supporters and lots more will be rooting for the U.S. to win a medal.




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