Supporting Nomadic Culture and The CHEO Foundation: The Gobi Desert Cup is a Race That Makes a Difference
The Gobi Desert Cup is an endurance race that makes a difference. Each rider lived with nomadic people; rode endurance-trained Mongolian horses, and traveled 480 kilometers to test their endurance and challenge their horsemanship through an international endurance race all while secluded from the world. Following a marked course, riders started every morning at 7 AM and completed the course before 7 PM. Two FEI-qualified veterinary checks were held each day; one at 40 kilometers and one at the end of the 80 kilometers.
For the second year in a row, all horses and riders completed the race, and there was less than a 5% elimination on course, well below the global average of 40% in endurance riding. Eighteen riders competed each day over different terrain on different horses but were brought together as a community in their passion for adventure and horsemanship.
Eighteen equestrians from seven countries united to race for the Cup. The Australian riders were Amy Eighteen; Cecilia Stone; Tania Orlov; Ruth Benney; Claire McManus; and Michael Shaw. The New Zealand riders were: Kasmira Graham; Mathilde Schwarz; Stephanie Scott, and Peter Breidahl. The European riders consisted of Jon Pieszak Heebøll from Denmark and Sweden and Elodie Maillard from France. Finally from North America were our experienced endurance riders: Jeffrey L. Stuart; Bob Gauthier; Christoph Schork; Allan Horn, and Howard Kent from the United States and horsemanship trainer Lorie Duff of Canada.
Canadian Lorie Duff of Liberty Lane Horsemanship, based in Ottawa, was inspired to race on behalf of the CHEO foundation. Lorie was driven to complete the race for the children despite suffering an injured knee and dehydration. While she was unable to ride the full six days, she pushed on determined to learn about endurance and raise money for CHEO. As a result, she finished the race in 18th place with the encouragement of her fellow riders. Lorie said, “I could not have chosen a perfect setting other than the big sky of Mongolia and the Gobi Desert Cup for my heart to be taken by the sport of endurance racing, and of course by the Mongolian horses.”
In the end, the Gobi Desert Cup and Overall Best Managed award was earned by world-champion endurance rider, Christoph Schork (US) with a tie for second place from Elodie Maillard (FRA) and Jeffrey L. Stuart (US). The team award was won by Team USA consisting of Christoph Schork, Jeffrey L. Stuart, Allan Horn, and Bob Gauthier.
To learn more about the Gobi Desert Cup or to apply please visit http://www.gobidesertcup.com.
About the writer: About the writer: Heather Wallace is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, author of Confessions of a Timid Rider, and Media Consultant for The Gobi Desert Cup. Visit her at timidrider.com or learn more about The Gobi Desert Cup at gobidesertcup.com.