November 29, 2011–For the first time the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) will send a full team and support staff to the FEI Junior and Young Rider World Endurance Championship. The 120km race will run on December 10, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. There will be over 35 countries represented by 150 riders between the ages of 14-21. The event is sponsored by HH Sheik Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nayan and organized by Adnan Al Nuaimi and his staff. The team and the traveling reserve horse named to the definite entry are as follows in ranked order:
Name (Age, Hometown)
Kelsey Russell (16, Williston, FL) on Valerie Kanavy’s Gold Raven
Gold Raven is a 10-year-old Arabian mare
Kelsey Kimbler (18, Aberdeen, SD) on Kirsten Kimbler’s Cody Canuck
Cody Canuck is a 14-year-old Arabian gelding
Steven Hay (21, Port Matilda, PA) on Natalie Muzzio’s Khalil Asam
Khalil Asam is a 10-year-old Arabian gelding
Kyle Gibbon (21, Kingsland, GA) on Stephen Rojek’s Misu Koran
Misu Koran is a 16-year-old Arabian gelding
Traveling Reserve Horse
Cheryl Van Deusen’s DA Al Capone, a 16-year-old Arabian gelding
(to be ridden by Mary Kathryn Clark, 17, Eatonton, GA)
The team represents some of the United States’ most experienced Young Riders aboard horses who have tracked many miles at the top levels of the sport. This summer four of the five riders experienced international championship competition for the first time at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) where they also gained valuable team experience. Riding for Team USA, Russell captured the Team and Individual CEI4* Championship Gold Medals. She will ride Gold Raven, who has won nearly every CEI she’s contested. Aiding in capturing that NAJYRC Team Gold was Gibbon, who also took the Individual Bronze with Misu Koran. In the non-championship CEI2* division, Hay and Khalil Asam took home a Team Gold and Individual Bronze, while Clark and DA Al Capone helped USA Southeast take the Team Silver.
As the 2010 USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year, Kimbler will also bring a depth of skill to the team. She has competed and medaled at several non-championship NAJYRC events in addition to multiple top five placings at CEIYJs.
“Words cannot express how very lucky and fortunate I feel to have reached this level to represent the United States,” said Gibbon. “I am no less than thrilled to partake in this event on such a wonderful horse, all thanks to Misu Koran’s owners Steve and Dinah Rojek.”
The team will be led by Chef d’Equipe Emmett Ross, “As Chef d’Equipe of the U.S. Young Riders I am really looking forward to working with five very strong horse/rider combinations,” said Ross. “These Young Riders will hopefully become candidates for our senior teams in World Endurance Championships. The U.S. development of Young Riders has been a huge focus and effort by several people including Jan Stevens and Kathy Brunjes, their efforts have produced these five strong riders as well as many others. As chef I have a goal of finishing all riders in a competitive environment with a chance of sneaking onto the podium. It will be a strategic race over the 75 mile course.”
Ross will be joined by Team Vet Dr. Dwight Hooton, both of whom have significant experience working in the UAE.
Three of four team riders will need to complete the course to post a team score (aggregate total time of three riders score as a team). All riders will compete as individuals as well. There will be five vet checks throughout the race to check the horse’s soundness and metabolic capacity in order to be allowed to continue, these checks are part of FEI’s significant guidelines for the Welfare of the Horse.