South Africans face mounting problem

SARAH KENNEDY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

For the first time in Spruce Meadows' history, South Africans will compete in the North American, but they had to leave their horses at home.

The group of girls arrived at Spruce June 26 to ride in the junior competitions.

But because of the distance and animal quarantine rules, they had to come without their mounts, putting them at a disadvantage, said 12-year-old Davene Smith.

"I think the competition is very tough over here, especially because we are competing against people on their own horses."

Because of African Horse Sickness, any horse travelling from South Africa to Canada would have to go through weeks of quarantine.

So the young riders leased horses here and had only one day to train, said the girls' trainer Chad Cunningham.

"It's definitely a disadvantage for them. The horses here are very different than what they're used to and they're a bit overwhelmed."

But 14-year-old Ashlee Hausberger said the girls are just happy to be here. "Spruce Meadows is very big back home."

Cunningham was last in Canada two years ago for the Children's World Championships and said he fell in love with Spruce and wanted his riders to experience it.

"I just thought to go to one of the best venues in the world was an amazing opportunity for them," he said.


Videos

Photos