Loss of New Zealand horse following aborted world endurance champs

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Barack Obama and Jenny Champion at the 2016 New Zealand National Endurance Championships.
Barack Obama and Jenny Champion at the 2016 New Zealand National Endurance Championships.

The loss of a New Zealand horse in the wake of the aborted world championship Endurance race in North Carolina this week adds to the litany of woes surrounding what should have been a showcase event for the discipline.

Word came on Friday in Tryon that Barack Obama, ridden by Team New Zealand’s Jenny Champion, of Masterton, in the North Island, was euthanized following the endurance race.

The 20-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding had been taken to the Endurance Treatment Clinic after being transported back from the second loop of the 120-kilometre ride on Wednesday.

He was treated for kidney problems on site at the Tryon International Equestrian Center and then transferred to the Tryon Equine Hospital for further treatment.

The FEI said the horse’s owner, Mark Round, in consultation with the athlete and veterinarians, subsequently elected to euthanise the horse.

In line with FEI Veterinary Regulations, a post-mortem will be conducted and samples will be taken from the horse.

Barack Obama (Sharabi x Sunshine) had been competing in international endurance events since 2009 and had 16 FEI event starts, including six 160km rides.

Barack Obama, pictured with Caroline Barber at the 2012 National Endurance Championships in New Zealand.
Barack Obama, pictured with Caroline Barber at the 2012 National Endurance Championships in New Zealand.

Champion, who has competed in endurance for 22 years, took over as rider in 2014 and together the partnership had won six times.

It had been planned before he left New Zealand that Barack Obama would stay in the United States in a new home.

The loss of Barack Obama is a further blow to the discipline after the abandonment of the endurance this week due to what officials said was a dangerous combination of heat and humidity, which had triggered an unprecedented number of metabolic issues among the horses remaining in the competition.

News of the cancellation reached riders as they entered the third vet check gate. It was a decision that enraged some competitors.

It had followed an earlier controversy in which the first 40km loop of the course was deemed void because some competitors had been misdirected at the start.

The FEI has ordered an independent inquiry to determine how the riders came to be misdirected.

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