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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland and the FEI

Young endurance horses up for the challenge in Europe

ABOVE: Dominika Malikova Kleinova and Molta cross the finish line. Picture: FEI

ENDURANCE riding is strictly policed and unlike young racehorses whose career so often begins at age two, horses must be older than four years before they can compete.

Even then, a 4 ½ year old can only enter a 40km ride if showing a full mouth of permanent teeth.

Horses must be five years old before tackling an 80km ride.

The minimum age of horses at the inaugural FEI Endurance World Championship for Young Horses in Northern Europe was even higher again at eight years.

The event was held at the Padise Equestrian Centre, located near Estonia's Baltic Sea coast and an hour's drive from the capital of Tallinn.

The opening ceremony featured representatives from 13 National Federations across three continents.

Some 40 horses entered from countries including Argentina, Bahrain, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Kuwait, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine and the UAE.

The championship's natural and technical track, winding through a forest landscape, provided a challenging course totalling 120km over four loops that emphasised both rider skills and stamina for the horses competing.

Dominika Malikova Kleinova of Slovakia clinched gold with her mare, Molta. Buti Ali Saif Ali Al Nuaimi of UAE took silver riding his gelding SW Iskulm and Spain’s Gil Berenguer Carrera secured bronze on his stallion, Fatal.

“The event was simply amazing,” Dominika said after her win.

“We were hoping for a good result, but the win was a dream. I’m so happy for my horse. We’ve been getting ready for this race for a year and she deserves it.

“The place was wonderful and the facilities were great, especially regarding the welfare of the horses. The track was really beautiful, but very technical and difficult. I’m so thankful for the support we received all day at the main venue and out at the main track from the local people – it gave us so much energy.”

ABOVE: Competitors make their way to the finish. Picture: FEI

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