Endurance

“Endurance” seems an appropriate topic today, in celebration of the 33 Chilean miners rescued, following their 69 days trapped underground.

In horse parlance, the Endurance discipline tests the stamina of horse and rider as they race to compete a long course; at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) it was a 100 mile course. When my husband, Jaime, and I volunteered to support the WEG, we were pleased that our second assignment would be supporting the endurance competition. We both had great interest in the sport and admiration for the athletes, even though we hadn’t participated in endurance riding – yet. Hey, the senior member of the U.S. team, Jan Worthington, competed in the Games at age 70. Talk about hope and endurance!

We were assigned “numbering,” which meant that as each horse successfully completed its pre-competition veterinarian check, we marked each of the horse’s flanks with its rider’s number, large and visible from a distance. This job allowed us to not only touch most of these international equine athletes, but also briefly meet the world class endurance riders. The horses reminded us of professional marathon runners – lean, fit, and serious. The endurance riders were among the most humble and gracious people we met in our entire time at the 2010 Games in Kentucky .

Jaime had the opportunity to mark the existing number one horse in the world, Knobby, with a large number “1.” Knobby won again in this competition, with his Spanish team member Maria Alvarez Ponton on board. Interestingly, Ponton had given birth to her daughter just seven weeks before this gold medal win – around the same date as the Chilean mine entrapment. Every day presents another opportunity to learn about endurance and our own capabilities. We may not all be number “1,” but we may find that we have our own endurance skills similar to those that 33 miners didn’t know THEY had until put to the test.