VIDEO-British Debrief on WEG, Hear Piggy French & Vets Speak.

Credit : Scoopdyga

Wednesday 10 October - 02h48 | Lulu Kyriacou

VIDEO-British Debrief on WEG, Hear Piggy French & Vets Speak.

A fascinating debrief on the World Equestrian Games (WEG) was held last night at the Rossdale and Partners Veterinary Clinic in Newmarket, Suffolk where Japan's team veterinary Andy Bathe, WEG Endurance Veterinary Commission member Fred Barrelet  and British team rider  Piggy French were the panellists.  You can watch all three speakers on video below.

Bathe, who was formerly the British team vet, compared his experience with Asian Games in Jakata with those at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon.  He began by comparing the transport situation and said the difficulties transporting the horses only began only once they had arrived in the host countries, particularly  at Jakata, where there were significant issues getting horses from the airport  to the  games site. The equestrian complex was very smart though with a huge covered arena and a purpose built facility  that included a well stocked veterinary centre with plenty of fluids. Misting fans etc for cooling horses were already set up, with temperatures of horses being monitored twice a day. There were plenty of very willing volunteers  and a big effort to get standard feed, such as Horsehage for forage. The Asian Games started cross country  at 6.00 to avoid heat and humidity, no horses treated for heat issues and all trotted up. The main difference was that the all non competing horses and any other livestock was moved from the surrounding area  so the competition venue could be used as the quarantine stabling, which has significant advantages for horse care.  
In Tryon,  Bathe described the quarantine officials as  "like Nazis" as they took away feed and supplements. One owner  was forced  to smuggle electrolytes in her bra!   Stabling was good as permanent. The grooms tent  was a reality.  catering had one coffee machine for 500 people..... They were still drilling during welcome speeches. He sasid the  famous Hurricane Florence actually got nowhere near site,  Tryon was part of the evacution saftety zone but security fence did blow down.  Commmenting on the heat and backing up comments made last week by Rodrigo Pessoa and ric Lamaze, Bathe thought that holding the showjumping contests in midday was not best from a welfare point of view. He thought  some of the showjumpers were really struggling in the heat and in Bathe's opinion, the courses were was too demanding and the format  needed to be looked at. 

Looking at Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics, Bathe described how the main arena will be  in the centre of Tokyo with the cross country on a reclaimed island in Tokyo Bay,  where it is hoped the breeze  from sea will help lower humidity.


Piggy French Speaks her mind

Piggy French Speaks her mind - VIDEO-British Debrief on WEG, Hear Piggy French & Vets Speak.

Hypercrewing at Euston Park
Credit : Lulu Kyriacou

Piggy French spoke next. She said, "It (WEG) was crazy, but as athletes we stayed in our bubble but as soon as you looked around it looked like chaos. After you look back and you think it was crazy to think what was going on around you. The facilities were Ok for the horses but there was no grazing for them. The grass on the course felt artificial but having said that, no venue in the UK could have run in that rain.  But as the cross country was formerly a  golf course and on sand with the special grass,  it was OK  but we were worried what would happen if it rained like that when  we were riding. But the heat, well I have never experienced anything like it, it took your breath away but then on cross country day suddenly it was cooler. We tried to get them (the organisers) to start  earlier  but they wouldn't because of the TV rights."  French went on to explin that it took twenty minutes to get to the  start, riding on your own, from the warm up and how the British  used a golf buggy to drive a groom and farrier behind each rider in case they pulled a shoe on the way which was a really strange experience for the riders. She thought they had way more atmosphere at Blenheim watching in a tent! French also confirmed quarantine was "hellish, with no exercise facilities, so you have to be very careful bringing them back into work."  She confirmed that new World Champion event horse AllStar B had a bit of minor colic during the quarantine period.

Going on to discuss the course, French said it was not as big and scary as she had expected, probably because WEG was now a three star. She thought there were some uncharacteristic nervous mistakes from some riders. The British thought the  steps with the water cascades fence  looked odd so team instructions were to go long as they thought the time could be made up elsewhere.  "But we won so I don't care that Capt Mark Phillips didn't make it harder!"

The rider then went on to describe how the start and finish were so far apart, it was impossible to have the usual debrief with each rider before the next went.  "We had Chris Bartle at one and Major Richard at the other, so you didn't really  see your team mates, but those two radioed each other with the information." Bartle told her to ride for herself, not for the team,  which French said "was  a good thing as being on a team means so much, it is such an honour, you want the team to do well, that him saying that took the pressure off and it all came together."  The British team did not get automatic intravenous fluids , like some teams, as they finished well and didn't need them.

​French also described her "awful" showjumping round and how she had hidden with showjumpers Williams, Funnell and Whitaker,  while Ros Canter showjumped to secure gold as the scores were by then so tight!

A  statement on Endurance
After French had finished, Fred Barrelet gave a  presentation with  details of how  many horses in the endurance  were treated during the failed endurance event  and for exactly what issues. He thought that what he described as  "hypercrewing" took responsibility   for the horse's  welfare and after race care away from the rider and this should be addressed by the FEI by limiting  crew numbers. He did not think the ride would have continued in the conditions even without the false start.  

​Barrelet  gave a description of the humidity conditions  and said the location was unusual  for humidity on that latitude with few places having the sasme general weather conditions but Tokyo was another.  He said the weather conditions in Tryon were still the same now and that only the eventing riders seemed to be prepared for the possible conditions.

​The vet thought that many horses (not particularly the endurances horses) did not need to be given fluids automatically.

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