Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic Updates, Tevis & the Winning Loser

Life is hectic for me at the moment, but hopefully these bits and bobs entertain you!

First, Olympic Updates

Germany is kicking ass in the Equestrian events so far. Britain and New Zealand aren't too far behind, but team USA isn't doing well. This year's cross-country course is proving particularly tough for competitors-- the 3.6-mile course, with its 28 jumps, looks like something I wouldn't try to ride through to save my life! Some competitors are describing it as "whimsical," but I think "insane" might be a more apt description...

Yeah, apparently that's supposed to happen... eventing, eh?

Anyway, Zara Phillips, the Queen's grand-daughter, won a team eventing silver medal, but confesses she could have done better.

Speaking of insane competitions, The Tevis Cup is only two days away!! *squee* I <3 the Tevis!
The Tevis, of course, is a 100 mile endurance race  in California. Riders leave before dawn, often finishing in the dark, and cross mountains, steep rocky cliffs, desert scrub, rivers, highways, deep forests and cougar country. Unlike the Olympics, the focus is on the horse-- there are multiple vet checks along the way that determine whether a horse is happy, fit and able to continue, or must stop. Also unlike the Olympics, the Tevis isn't just for the rich elite. Last year, a 19 year old girl on a 17 year old horse took second place! Riders range from pre-teens to seniors, and their horses are every breed imaginable. What's important is soundness and willingness. This year there are no riders from Wisconsin (I'm sad) but there are many international guests, from Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, the UK and even Japan. Probably not all of the 214 registered riders will actually start on August 4th, but it's going to be a big race this year anyway!

Now then, take a quick minute to go read about Lee Pearson. In about a month, Lee Pearson is going to be at the Paralympic games, which is basically the Olympics for people who are disabled, but nevertheless more awesome/athletic than you or I could ever hope to be. Lee is a UK rider who was born with massively twisted limbs, and has to walk with crutches. Yet, he's one of the most talented riders in the world, having won many medals in the Paralympics and even had wins against "normal" riders. He owns two horses, both over 17 hands. He's skilled, brave AND totally cute!  More super-cool-interview-stuff here.

But hey, with all of this awesomeness, let's not forget the underdog... or in this case, the underhorse:

 I present to you "The Winning Loser," Zippy Chippy.

Zippy Chippy may well be the worst longest-running racehorse of all time. In 100 starts, he didn't even win one race, and was traded in 1995 for an old van. He was even banned at many tracks simply because absolutely no one would bet on him. His lifetime winnings are $30,000-- not even enough to have paid for all his training/care/board/feed. Now 21, he's the mascot for Old Friends, a horse rescue determined to publicize the plight of ex-racehorses in America. Old Friends is using Zippy's face on T-shirts and mugs to help explain to people that, “Winners Don’t Always Finish First.” Many, many lovely ex-racehorses are slaughtered each year because they have no home to go to. While Zippy may have "won" by avoiding that fate, many others don't-- and they aren't always "losers." Ferdinand, who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby, the 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic, and placed second and third in many prestigious races before almost being made a Horse of the Year, was sent to slaughter in his old age. Exceller, the only horse ever to beat two Triple Crown winners, died in a Swedish slaughterhouse in 1997. There are many more examples of "winners losing" in the horse world.If you've got a spare dime, throw it at these deserving old athletes whydoncha?

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