Sturley Leads Canadian Team to World Games
And being the oldest (59) and smallest (so light she has to carry lead) member of Equine Canada's endurance team heading to Europe next month is nothing compared to the injury she sustained last May on her second-string horse.
Any rider knows that a sacrum injury is bad, but to an endurance rider, it's worse.
"I had a hard fall on May 13, then left (her home in Seven Lakes) and drove to Canada on May 17," Sturley said. "Sitting in the truck that long really set me back."
Sturley didn't compete much this summer, but she didn't need to.
On past performances, she and her Arabian gelding RBF Super Sport are ranked first of the five endurance riders qualified to represent Canada at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, next month.
"He's in peak shape," said Sturley of her horse. "We just did a 50 miler two weeks ago and finished third and best conditioned."
Now all she has to do is keep herself and her horse fit and sound for their Aug. 5 departure from Toronto. When I caught Sturley on the phone at 7:30 a.m., she was just heading out for Beaver Valley, a 30-mile hill ride.
"The hills really top him out," she explained.
The 100-mile course at the WEG will traverse three countries: Germany, Holland and Belgium.
"I've heard the course has tight turns, there is hardly a mile or two with a straightaway," said Sturley. "There will be lots of pavement, so the horses will be shod with pads and borium (a liquid metal applied to the shoe for traction)."
To prep for this type of course, Sturley has been training in an apple orchard. "Up and down all the rows of apple trees," she said. "And sometimes I get off and run down the hills."
Although Sturley and Sport have qualified to represent Canada internationally before, and wore the Maple Leaf at the Fair Hill (Md.) FEI endurance race in 1995, this will be their first time flying to a big international competition.
Canada is sending 24 horses and riders in six disciplines to the WEG. The trip is partially funded by Equine Canada, but some of the $25,000 per horse competition budget was donated by private sponsors.
"I wouldn't be going if not for some people who said 'We're sending you,'" said Sturley. "I'm really overwhelmed, and very excited."
Sturley and her husband moved to a retirement home in Seven Lakes in 1995, where he can golf and she can ride all winter. She boards her two Arabians at a private barn in West End just six miles from her home.
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