Team PSV has just returned from an epic adventure up to the Waterberg District in Limpopo last week for the South African International Challenge. We went up early and spent a week there to give our horses time to recover from the 15 hour trip, and so that PSV Jedi could have his blood tests done along with the all the other horses competing for the South African national team!
The course in Modimolle (aka Nylstroom) is tough – sandy, but with a handicap of +6 – and over 320 horses entered the race, including teams from all the provinces, and national teams from SA, Namibia, Botswana and Argentina. At 4.30am on Thursday 7 April, the Young Riders set off, followed by Lightweights, then the Standardweights and finally the Heavyweightsat 5.30am.
By the time the last rider completed an exhausting 120km as the sun was setting, nearly half the riders had been eliminated or withdrawn. So for those who finished the race, it was a huge achievement.
From our Perseverance Stud here in Graaff-Reinet, Laura Seegers on star horse PSV Jedi finished the 120km in 5 hrs 55 mins, and came 8th in the FEI Standardweights, despite rider and saddle getting swept off the horse by a tree 200in the last leg. This was history in the making as Jedi is the first barefoot horse to compete for the South African team!
Our work rider Ashley Gower – who rode PSV Mauser for the Eastern Cape Young Riders when Jenna Masterson had to withdraw her horse – came 27th and his team came 3rd in the FEI Young Riders.
We were by no means the only barefoot competitors there, and we were very impressed that the two top Young Riders, Reze & Winel Barnard, were both riding barefoot horses.
The course was actually so tough that the only national Standardweight team to have their 4 nominated riders complete were the invitation team from Argentina. They cantered across the line in style, flying their flag. Other international riders competing included two-time World Champion and endurance legend Valerie Kanavy from the USA, and GB rider Samantha Yates.
The Eastern Cape showed up all the provinces with good results in every category! Their FEI Standardweight Team- including Harry Hobson, Pete Meikle and Leanne Wels of the Welbech Stud – came 1st; Trevor Rous of Colesberg came 3rd in the FEI Heavyweights, and Menita Renison of Graaff-Reinet came 4th in the ERASA Lightweights. Megan King, also of Graaff-Reinet, came 9th in the FEI Young Riders in a time of 6 hrs 9 min.
Thanks go to Margaret Hobson, Gys Botha and their helpers for all their hard work managing and organising the Eastern Cape team, and to Dampier Nissan, Aliwal North, who sponsored the Eastern Cape Endurance Riding Union.
Our journey back was eventful too… Ten minutes after leaving our camp, Jenny Masterson’s horsbox lost a wheel on the main street of Modimolle. Five hours later, our convoy set off again, and made good time till late that evening, when Julie-Anne Gower’s 4×4 decided to retire its gearbox on a back road in the Free State.
Luckily we had the truck, and Francois ‘Bob’ Seegers – the hero of the day – towed horsebox and 4×4 into Jagersfontein in the pouring rain. Finally, 24 hours after packing up, we arrived back at Broederstroom!