Leanna and Sam at the 100-mile WEG qualifier.

Leanna and Sam at the 100-mile WEG qualifier.

It has been awhile between posts but I have been hectically busy. Sam and I were selected to represent Canada at the World Equestrian Games on August 28th in Normandy, France in Endurance. This has meant that the multitude of things to do have been crazy.

Organizing uniforms, horse transport, accommodation, flights around your horse, flights for crew/grooms and most of all…fundraising to enable us to go. I budgeted that I would need at least $30,000 to go to compete for Canada. It costs us anywhere from $10-$20,000/year to stay qualified at this level, so the additional $30,000 was just not personally available. So many people have contributed anywhere from $5 upwards and it has combined to ensure that our major costs are paid for. I will still be out of pocket, but it has now become achievable. It is very humbling that so many people have dug into their own pockets to ensure we will go to represent our country.

Now, to let you know what has happened since my last blog. On June 27th, Endurance Canada announced the squad to go to WEG and we were selected! I then went into high gear to collect funding and get everything organized. On top of that, we still had to compete and stay fit to be able to go to WEG.

We did go to Wyoming to do a two-day ride, 50 miles/day. The Wyoming ride is fairly flat with a nice sandy base, so I wanted to do some speed. That wasn’t going to happen. It started raining the morning of the ride and as there is bentonite clay in the soil, the trail soon became a slippery mess. When we came into the first vet check, after 23 miles, the call was made that the remaining 27 miles would be out a gravel road and back in again. Much better, but still slick! The sun came out briefly in the afternoon, humidity went through the roof and rain clothes came off to be carried on the saddle. Sam again showed his toughness and came first with the added bonus of best condition. That is four best conditions from four rides this year. A perfect record. The second day was cancelled due to trail conditions, so it was a long drive for only a one day ride, but well worth it.

Cleaning up his tack and him after this ride took hours. I think his tail weighed five pounds more than it should have with the amount of bentonite clay in it. Even the truck and trailer ended up coated in it and it hardens to a rock/concrete like substance.

We had two weeks’ rest back home and then headed down to Southern Alberta for a competitive trail ride last weekend. It was 28C and the ride is in the rolling coulees. A hot, blustery wind meant the grass on the hills was slick. I still think it is one of the toughest rides to do with the combination of terrain and weather. Sam did amazing finishing fourth lightweight even though I rode it more as an endurance conditioning ride as it is our last ride before we fly to France.

It is amazing the amount of things you don’t know about that have to be done to compete at this level. On Monday, Sam had blood taken for his international Coggins and is now in quarantine before we go. They did approve my place for quarantine so he is at home and I can still ride to keep him fit.

Sam is not the only one tested. On Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. last week, I had a knock on my door. There were the drug testers on behalf of Equine Canada to test me! A urine sample was required of 90ml. Going in a cup to an exact measurement is never an easy feat, but to have to do it with someone watching as a witness is definitely a new experience! They said that if I was tested at WEG, it would be the same. My only question is how are they going to fit into the porta potty with me?

Passports are in order, flights are booked, packing still to be done. Packing is a whole other category, as certain things can be taken, others cannot and we all know how much stuff your horse needs! I have organized to fly as a groom on the plane for the flight from Calgary to Luxembourg to look after Sam and one other horse. On the way back, the other Canadian groom will be looking after the horses so I have a normal ticket. Never done this before, but they tell me I should have a first aid kit for horses and a horse sedative available just in case.

We will be heading to the airport on August 2nd. My sister will be meeting us there to take my truck and trailer to her place until our return at the beginning of September. Horse transport from Luxembourg to Longues sur Mer has also been organized. We are staying at a little gite (farmhouse) there until August 25th when we will be picked up to go to Sartilly ride base camp for WEG. My grooms arrive on Aug 20th. Some are flying into London and one into Paris. Then all will be on Eurail trains to get closer for me to pick them up. Still haven’t organized the car!

I am looking forward to finally being in France, especially being able to focus just on Sam and me, going for a ride down the beach and preparing for the biggest race of our lives. I know that everyone that has contributed to us getting there will be cheering for us. I have tried to do everything I can think of to prepare for this event. I will be taking my computer with me and hoping to be able to update all of you as we prepare for WEG. I promise to take more pictures!