WEG for Worst Equestrian Games


1. Bad timing for WEG

Hurricanes in America are nothing new, they came from Atlantic every year. All locals know about weather in September on the South – rains, hot and humidity.

This is hurricane season, so the decision to choose the date for WEG in September is sure to raise some eyebrows.

And now she is coming – Hurricane Florence or as some jokers call it, ‘Aunt Flo.’

The best option could be choose the right season for WEG, for example in October.

2. Half-finished facilities

The organizers had approximately 18 months to prepare all the facilities. They attracted a large number of sponsors.

Moreover, every discipline at the WEG recevied its own title sponsor – this is usual practice in many sports.

Just look at the official map of the venue – click to enlarge:

For example, Driving was named as Polaris Ranger Driving, Endurance was named as Meydan Endurance, Eventing as Mars Eventing, Dressage as Helgstrand Dressage, Jumping as Bank of America Jumping, and so on.

Meydan was the main sponsor for Endurance event at WEG and provided the financial aid to the organizers for preparing the facilities for Endurance competition.

Meydan is well-known for its sponsorship of many Endurance events in Europe.

When Meydan is sponsoring the event in Italy – the venue in Pisa is ready on time.
When Meydan is sponsoring the event in UK – the venue in Euston Park is ready on time.
When Meydan is sponsoring the event in Tryon – look what happens.

In fact, this Royal Pavilion is still under construction – what a shame for Mark Bellissimo, Co-Founder and CEO of Tryon International Equestrian Center – and this is not his last shame.

If the main sponsor of the event was met by half-finished facilities, then what to say about ordinary people?

When the riders began arriving and settling at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, there was immediate concern about the inadequate accommodation for the grooms.

It was expected that on-site, permanent housing would be available to the grooms, but instead the grooms were offered bunk beds in temporary tents. Right when the hurricane Florence is approaching – so it raised concerns about the safety of tents and public outrage on social media.

At this point Mark Bellissimo, co-founder and CEO of Tryon International Equestrian Center, released a statement – click to see full version:

It seems that he is not ashamed at all and it is not difficult to apologize on paper, and not personally or looking at the camera.

After all, an apology is worthless, until it is a refund by court order.

Where is the sponsor’s money, Mark?

The vet gate was also prepared at the last minute, and it absolutely does not meet the requirements of the World Championship.

It is more like the vet gate for small regional competition, not for the world’s level event.

And when it began to rain – an unexpected surprise for the organizers, who apparently do not know how to use the weather forecast – vet gate turned into swamp.

Soil for the Olympic disciplines inside the arenas is much better quality than what was prepared for Endurance vet gate.

Plunging into the mud, Endurance riders feel themselves as unwanted guests, who were placed on the outskirts of the main party.

And now see the condition of the track for the World Championship. No comments, only frustration and disappointment.

No respect to the horses and riders that came from around the world and spent a lot of money – just to see this unprepared track right after the vet gate.

3. Incompetent management of the ride

Debacles were started from the start.

Inexplicable failure with the conducting the start of the event that lead to confusion and misleading of the riders.


Read FEI Endurance Rules, Art. 824.2.5:

Was the Technical Delegate Rui AMANTE from Portugal satisfied with all the arrangements? How could he approve such unprepared venue and misleading tracks?

Actually, questions should also be asked to the person in the organizing committee who was responsible for Endurance competition – Madame Jan STEVENS, 4* official from USA.

This was only the beginning of the disaster!

Unprecedented “pragmatic” decision of officials to null and void first loop because of their own incompetence in clear conducting the start of the ride.

They decided to trash the results of the first loop, cancel the advantage of the leading riders and put everyone in the initial conditions. They decided to turn 160 km ride into a new 120 km ride not caring about the fact that 120 km is so called CIM i.e. “minor event” and it is not Championship-level distance.

So, Ground Jury decided to make a re-start of the ride despite of the protests of many teams.

But after that it got worse.

4. From farce to fiasco

The competition turned into total mess when many riders complete almost 80% of the total distance.

Here is the official statement – click to read full version:

The ride was completely stopped!

Posted by Ahmed Al Hammadi on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

As you can see from this livestream, all the people at the venue were shocked and frustrated by this decision.

A terrible chaos began inside the vet gate, and the police quickly appeared at the venue.

“In endurance races — in which everyone knows each other, in which everyone is friends with everyone else, and everyone contributes to the event’s smooth running –, the presence of a police officer in the vet-check symbolizes that everything — absolutely everything — has gone wrong. The need for physical restraint indicates the Organizing Committee’s utter failure and blatant disregard for the event: a moral bankruptcy, as it were.”
– Andre Vidiz,
athlete from Brazil

World Championship has become the worst nightmare for all the riders.

Immediately after the announcement of the decision, FEI TV stops broadcasting and removes the recording from its website.

Now there is no recording of Endurance competition on the FEI TV, as if this competition did not started at all.

5. Black mark for USA

No doubt, the USA is a great country that can be proud of many things.

But what happened in Tryon, forever leaves a shameful trail in the history of Endurance sport.

#WEGTRYON – a really sad day for endurance riding –
by Sport EVO

Posted by Sportendurance Evo on Friday, September 14, 2018

Read the statement from the organizers of the next World Endurance Championship in 2020 – click to enlarge:

Full version here: http://www.endurancelifestyle.it/toscanalifestyle2018/news.php?idn=238

Unlikely after such an EPIC FAIL, the United States will host another FEI championship. What a shame for such great country.

6. Stolen victory

A wrong decision of the officials in the morning caused another wrong decision in the afternoon.

If the ride would not be delayed for about 3 hours due to re-start for a new ride, leading riders from Spain and France would be already finished 160 km to that moment when hot and humidity became extremely dangerous.

The officials stole the victory from Spanish team, so the Spanish NF sent a letter to the decision-maker of Tryon – Sabrina Ibáñez, the FEI Secretary General – click to enlarge:

The Spanish team lodged a formal appeal asking for medals to be awarded to those leading when the competition was cancelled. The appeal was heard by a three-person Appeal Committee on 13 September.

The final decision, which was notified to the Spanish National Federation on 15 September, is to uphold the Ground Jury’s ruling that no medals will be presented, as the ride was cancelled before any horses had completed the full distance. The Appeal Committee also confirmed the validity of the Officials’ decision to cancel the competition.

7. Where is Clean Endurance?

September 12, 2018 is the most shameful day for the FEI!

Watch this short video recap of what happened that day in Tryon:

FEI and organizers conducted a competition at absolutely unprepared venue, and officials allowed this to happen!

And now one horse named BARACK OBAMA from New Zealand died – for nothing! This poor horse could be alive if the ride was cancelled in the morning after the first loop!

Is this real welfare of horses?

And where is Clean Endurance now? Where are all these people blaming Group 7 for horse welfare issues?

Look at the answers of Clean Endurance when they were asked about this:

Now you see true face of Clean Endurance!

53 horses went to the clinic in Tryon, and Clean Endurance says that “to our knowledge the organisational problems have not had major impacts on horse welfare.”

So, 53 horses in clinic are not the horse welfare issue for Clean Endurance just because this happens not in Group 7!

Imagine what they could publish if 53 horses went to clinic at event in Group 7! And now they are silent!

Can anyone from Clean Endurance, including Marianne Ironside who is Clean Endurance leader hiding under a pseudonym Carol Hayter, name at least one event in Group 7 with such organisational problems?

Clean Endurance say that they only fight against cheating, but at WEG they see no cheating, thus they are silent.

Shame on Clean Endurance for their deathly silence about Tryon! They published many statements about horse welfare before WEG and zero statements after it.

8. R.I.P. Tryon and Cancel ’Em All

It’s obvious that WEG in Tryon is the last WEG ever.

This format of the competitions is completely unjustified.

So there are still no bids for WEG 2022.

It’s time to revise the WEG format with a individual World Championships for each discipline.

We need to think if there is such a World Championship we want.

WEG has become too big. Which organizer will be able to do high-quality championships in eight disciplines, all of which require completely different conditions in terms of weather, venue and facilities?

Not Tryon anyway.

Although all construction will be completed within a few days, before the second week of the WEG, the first day of the WEG has spoken its clear language.

What happened at Endurance Championship, will not happens if this discipline would have a proper place, a time and an arrangement just for this one discipline.

The initial start of the competition could have been a safe and fun event for spectators if it has been organized by people who know how to do it right.

Riders, horse owners, sponsors, national federations – everybody invests so much efforts to get to the World Championship.

There must be so many guarantees that World Championship will be the crème de la crème of the sport competitions.

Taking together eight disciplines in this way has not given those guarantees neither in Normandy 2014 nor now in Tryon.

We could believe that the organizers in Tryon have done their very best to make a good WEG. Unfortunately, this time it was not enough. It was not enough in Normandy either.

The idea of ​​a collective World Championships for all equestrian disciplines is so enjoyable, but it has become too big, difficult and expensive to arrange.

Now time has come to rethink the whole concept of the WEG after Tryon’s first day.

9. No excuses

There are many questions to be answered:

  • Organizers – FAILED.
  • Officials – FAILED.

Do not wait for an apology from all the people involved in crushing and destroying the World Championship in Tryon, for ruining the hopes and dreams of several hundred people – riders and grooms – that spent a lot of money to come to USA from all over the world.

Know the “heroes” of WEG Tryon 2018:

Mark Bellissimo
Co-founder and CEO of Tryon International Equestrian Center
Jan Stevens
Discipline Manager – Endurance
Jean-Pierre Allegret
President of the Ground Jury
Rui Amante
Technical Delegate
Manuel Bandeira de Mello
Director of FEI Endurance & Driving
Sabrina Ibáñez
FEI Secretary General

To be continued…