Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd/DPA/PA Images

Endurance at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) has been cancelled due to extreme weather conditions.

‘Unacceptable risk’

Following heavy rainfall there were concerns the combination of heat and humidity posed an “unacceptable risk” to horse welfare.

The decision to cancel was unanimous between the president of the ground jury, technical delegate and president of the veterinary commission, and the organising committee.

British scientist Dr David Marlin has been working on heat and humidity studies for the FEI since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He provided the ground jury with data from the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index which showed a reading of 31. Anything over 25 is monitored very closely, and the officials agreed that 31 presented an unacceptable risk to horse welfare.

‘Difficult decision’

“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was done with horse and athlete welfare in mind as the conditions this afternoon after the rain resulted in extremely high levels of humidity and, combined with rising heat, it was deemed unsafe to continue the ride,” said Thomas Timmons, president of the veterinary commission.

WEG could face further weather disruptions, as Hurricane Florence heads to the US. The venue is located in Mill Spring, North Carolina, which is about 350-400 miles west of the mandatory evacuation zones along the coast — far enough inland that Tryon is unlikely to experience the full force of the hurricane.

Emergency plan

According to Sharon Decker, COO of Tryon International Equestrian Center, Tryon has a “strong, robust emergency plan” in place and is working closely with local law enforcement and emergency services to be prepared for what Hurricane Florence brings to the area.

“We are kind of a safe zone in a lot of ways,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get some wind and rain, but typically storms like this do not impact us in a significant way.”

You can watch all the action from WEG on Horse & Country in our daily review show. We also have coverage of all the Olympic and non-Olympic disciplines.

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