Ontario’s Emma Webb, double-silver medal-winning member of the Canadian Endurance team that competed at the 2013 FEI Adequan North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), had a plan from the start of the race. It was to stay behind the early front runners, maintain a steady speed and, most importantly, keep her mount happy.
Everything went smoothly into the first vet check at 16.8 miles, with eight-year-old purebred Arabian, Vagas, pulsing down easily and moving into a mandatory hold of 40 minutes. However, into the first hold, it was noticed that Emma’s horse was missing a shoe!
With only three shoes in place, Vagas vetted through and her crew had the shoe replaced while continuing to cool and feed the horse. Ten minutes before her out time, Emma climbed back in the saddle, told Vagas “don’t you lose another shoe” and flew off on the second loop. Emma said, “We had an awesome second loop. There was lots of water and since it was mostly two way trail, I got to see the other young riders, which is great. Everyone was so happy and cheering for each other. That is the great thing about Young Riders! We are all there for the same thing; to have fun!
About halfway through the second loop, after being pit crewed at a “fly-by” by her grooms, Emma caught up with Jessica DiCamillo from New Mexico and her horse Strike Two and the girls had a lot of fun riding together.
Emma and Vagas came into the second vet check with all shoes on and a good looking horse. Her team of grooms fed, cooled and tacked Vagas up. Now, they were ready to be sent on the third loop of 18 miles, which would return to base camp. Emma rode again with Mountain Zone team member, Jessica Yavis, the whole way back to camp. “We defiantly where feeling the Kentucky heat on this part of the ride. We were both not feeling awesome, but not doing too bad; keeping our second and third place positions in the race.”
There was lots of work to do on Vagas at the third vet check. He was feeling the heat. “But I stayed positive and we got it done and when we headed out, he felt and looked great. I was still with Jessica through this fourth loop. We went a bit slower to keep the horses cooler the best we could. It was hot, but we stayed positive and had a blast riding together. Riding with someone really does make a difference and staying positive and taking the small things. We smiled the whole loop.”
Vagas and Emma came in off the fourth loop and looked great, but had lost a shoe again! They presented to the vets using and Easyboot, vetted through, then found the farrier who replaced the shoe, again, so they could keep going. “Since Vagas felt great and looked great we cantered out. Even though it was tempting to play it safe, Emma and Vagas went for it and stuck to their plan. “There were riders all around me, just ahead and behind me. I told Vagas we can do it! When I caught up with the team in front of me, Vagas was on a mission to pass him. We cantered passed them and just kept on going.” They maintained their pace at the canter the whole last loop and had a great time.
“Cantering into the finish line and vetting through felt so good and once it was over I was so happy. Not because I didn’t have to get back on, but because my positive thinking all day and focus of getting what needed to be done to finish done. That horse was amazing. He pulled it off! But without support from my pit crew, the rest of the team, the long distance support, positive thinking, and focus this would not have been possible. Thank you everyone for your help.”