Robert Gielen and FC Galaxy, a 13-year-old Arabian gelding. They were the top placed Canadian combination at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, in a time of 10:13.55 for 37th place. © Kalina Rutledge
"Canada's participation in the Zhaosu endurance race is one of many opportunities that came as a result of the EC Export path finding mission to China that we conducted this past March," said Susan Stewart, a consultant to EC Export.
Four individuals have been selected not only on their competitive abilities, but on the personal attributes that make them best suited to be ambassadors of Canada's equine industry as a whole. The riders include 2010 World Equestrian Games Canadian Equestrian Team members, Elroy Karius, Gail Jewel and Robert Gielen, and 2008 FEI World Endurance Championships CET member, Wendy MacCoubrey. They will be the first riders to compete in mainland China as dedicated Canadian representatives following the 2008 Beijing Olympics when the equestrian sports were held in Hong Kong.
"Endurance Canada has partnered with EC Export in the past and we are very excited about our riders' participation as Canadian Equestrian Ambassadors," said Lynda Townsend, Chair, Endurance Canada International.
"This opportunity will give both nations' riders added international exposure which is important in supporting the competitive landscape of endurance world-wide. Riding and working alongside each other will also help build relationships that can lead to other areas of cooperation in the future."
Canada's participation in the Zhaosu endurance race is one of many initiatives that stakeholders in Canada and China have agreed to partner on. Plans are currently under way for Chinese delegates to participate in training in the sport of reining in Canada this summer, and for additional exchanges between China and Canada in the fall of 2011.
EC Export's focus extends beyond the export of horses and equine genetics of all breeds. In an emerging equestrian market such as China, Canada's expertise in equine health and welfare, coaching, training and sport infrastructure are the cornerstones of a successful international market development strategy. Through ongoing interactions and active communications, the opportunities continue to be discovered and acted upon.
EC Export is entirely self-funded, mostly through contributions from industry participants with 50% of some eligible expenses covered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's AgriMarketing Program. A holistic approach ensures funding partners can be sought from not only the breed groups, but from businesses that benefit from the awareness and relationship-building generated through EC Export.