Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Last day in Malaysia...

I woke up around 7AM, packed some and went down with Sarah for a cup of tea, we then both hit the gym (I had tried to run outside and managed to run only 1.5 miles, so I decided to give a shot at the treadmill, thinking the AC might help).
The gym was a spacious room with a couple of machines and an ocean view (nice!), but as I started running I quickly felt, the air management (to quote Sarah) was pretty poor and I soon started to sweat like crazy. I did run/walk 3 miles, I was drenched, went back to my room, took a shower and went to take my breakfast.

Downstair we met with a couple of people, Hamdan, Nafisa (young lady who took tons of pictures at the ride and nicely agreed to send them to me so I could post them on, so at least you could see some pictures of the ride). The manager of The Terrengganu Royal Endurance Stables (TRES), told me he had talked to his boss (His Majesty) and that His Majesty had agreed for me to visit the stables situated in KL (Kuala Lumpur), I was super happy with this news.
So the plan was to drop Sarah to the airport, go buy a camera (I lost mine and there was no way I was going to TRES stables without a camera), to visit the stables and then to the airport for my departure.

After saying goodbye to everyone in the lobby, off we went into the car direction KL airport, then to a huge mall (I mean HUGE) with Carrefour (a french equivalency of Target and 7 eleven, yes, you read that right, 7 eleven stores!!! Funny mix of Asian, American and French capitalism.

We had lunch and then drove to the stables. I want to make a special report on the stables as there is so much to talk about. I posted pictures already and will write about the TRES stables and training program, luckily I will be able to do so tomorrow evening as i'm off to a ride this weekend.

I hope you all enjoyed riding my posts and I apologize for my typos! The good news are it seems like I am invited to come next year to the MGIER and even maybe next November for another ride :-))

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

MGIER 2010 Awards ceremony

I woke up still a little groggy but I'm lucky compare to the event and FEI crew members and some riders. The last horse came in around 8AM (and passed the vet final check).I hitch a ride with Sarah (FEI president ground jury) who had slept a mere hour and a half and Brian Sheahan (FEI Head vet) who had not slept one bit (that when you like sunglasses).Brian got some sleep during the half hour drive while sarah and I were discussing the results of the rides (the good condition of the leading horses, reasons for pulls: principally lameness and very tired horses).

We arrived to the stadium Hang Jebat where the ceremony was taking place. Beautiful tables were set with floral arrangements in the center, local Melaka fruit drinks on the tables (very refreshing). Everyone was coming in slowly as most of us had just a couple of hours of sleep (or none). I used the down time to go to the stables, lots of horses had already left, Shaklan was gone, I did not get the time to properly scratch his neck to say bye. I sure hope to see him again, he's a beautiful sensitive horse.  There was an orchestra playing both traditional music and american pop tunes. The room filled up and soon a escort of beautiful young Malaysians in traditional costume escorted his Excellency The Governor of Melaka to his table. The Batiks they were all wearing were so colorful and gorgeous, a very pleasant sight to the eyes, it is said clothes are very important to Malaysians and it's true.  Each team has their own shirts, they all look like there are representing a country at a mondial event!

Food quickly started to be served by a multitude of waiters and waitresses, as everything I have been stating here, it was delicious.  I was seating with Sarah and Brian, the person in charge of the minister of health and another person in charge of the minister of the environment.  We chatted about our visit tour in Melaka and they told us about theit time in either Australia or Europe.

Next table was The chilean Ambassador, his wife and Raimundo (a Chilean young man established in Kuala Lumpur for a year or so), he is very active in endurance in Chile and rides for the RTES (Royal Terengganu Endurance Stables), he finished 5th behind  KDYMM Tengku Muhammad Ismail (His Majesty's son) who is 12 years old and was doing his first 80K.

When lunch was finished, the awards ceremony started, all prizes were given by His Excellency himself.
The names are not easy to remember but I posted an article from local news that covered part of the results.  I know 6 horses out of 12 finished the CEI** (75 miles), I'm not sure about the CEI* (50 miles) and 43 out of 66 finished in the 40K (25 miles).  The best condition went to the winner in the CEI** and I'm not sure about the CEI*. Sarah and I discussed earlier the way the horses looked at their trotting for BC and it was not great but far from being bad, to quote her it was very satisfactory.  

2 beautiful framed photographs of pure arabians were given to His Excellency for his support to the sport of Endurance.   His Excellency made sure to check everyone's hands that was accessible before he left.

I said "au revoir" to a bunch of riders and grooms and off we went back to the hotel, we all catch up on some sleep.   Sarah and I enjoyed a swim in the late afternoon and a well deserved beer before dinner.

I met the manager to the Terrengganu Royal Endurance Stables (TRES) and asked him if I could go and visit the stables they have in Kuala Lumpur, my flight was at 11:45PM, so I have a whole day, I could spend it along the pool at the hotel but I would rather go see more horses, his reply was he will ask his boss (The King) and will let me know. I did not see him at diner and I truly was not very hopeful.

After dinner, I went to my room to start packing and went to bed.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Melaka - some results - April 11, 2010 MELAKA Terengganu Riders Dominate 80km MGIER By: Ramjit

MELAKA, April 11 (Bernama) -- Terengganu dominated the 80km race at the Melaka Grand Invitational Endurance Ride (MGIER) 2010 which came to a close Sunday by taking the top four positions.

Riding "Kerbalanen Amor", Shahruddin Abdullah emerged as the winner by clocking 4 hours 46 minutes 11 seconds followed by Abdul Rahman Mohamad, who mounted "Jq Tuan Junior", a distant second in 5:55:47.

Muhammad Alif Sabidi, who mounted "Jq Tuan Junior" came a close third by a mere one second behind Abdul Rahman.

The trio were from the State of Terengganu Endurance Team (STET).

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin's son, Tengku Muhammad Ismail, who represented the Royal Terengganu Endurance Stable (RTES) finished fourth.

Only 10 of 44 riders completed the race which started at the Hang Jebat Stadium and passed through rubber and oil palm plantations and nearby villages.

In the 120km race, TMKN Endurance Team's Mohd Azizie Ismail, who mounted "Texas", rode into victory in 7:34:01 with STET's Wan Mohd Kamaluddin Wan Yusuff, who was on "M Malon" horseback, in the second spot with 8:39:12.

Astriding ""Ropadi Baltazar", Muhammad Zaini Saad of RTES came in third in 8:56:34.

Only six of 12 riders made it to the finishing line.

TMKN Endurance Team was adjudged the winner of the 120km team race by clocking 17:19:33 while SET took the 80km team title with a combined time of 16:37:46.

Yang Dipertua Negeri of Melaka Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam gave away the prizes.

Melaka - ride day! What an epic day!

What a day filled with mixed emotions!  After another delicious breakfast, we went on a tourist tour of Melaka (or Malacca), it's a splendid city with influences from Portuguese, Dutch, British "invaders" through out the past centuries. There are also a lot of Chinese and Indian living here.

The architecture is very interesting as Asian, Portuguese and Dutch managed to leave a strong heritage. It's a very colorful city, with many little houses along the Malacca river, parts of it being mangroves, we saw a type of crocodile while on the cruise tour, right in the middle of the city.

Our guide was very pleasant and knowledgeable, he explained us there is a huge cultural festival taking place in Melaka, and you could see musical groups performing in the streets.
It was a very odd feeling to be a tourist knowing in a couple of hours, I'll be riding a horse in the Malaysian palm tree fields!
We went back to the hotel for lunch, I tried to rest for an hour before getting ready, i hadn't slept well the night before and was in need of sleep, but of course, I had too much on my mind and did not get to get any, well at least I laid down for a while and then it was time to get to the stables.

There was a LOT going on at the stadium (where "ridecamp" is established), horses being walk, ridden, washed, a lot of security since The governor of Melaka was attending the race start!

I was getting my helmet ready with a headlamp when I left my camera on a trailer for a second, I realized and came back but it was already gone! I felt very frustrated and angry at myself for such a stupid thing I did, here I was watching everything around and not able to take pictures, so my apologies for this as I'm not sure I'll be able to provide you with any pictures of the ride, I'm trying to get the pictures of one of the photographers there and credit him.

I watched the start of the CEI** 120KM (75 miles), these horses were fit! They were eager to go but very respectful of their riders. I missed the CEI* 80KM (50 miles) start as I was getting my horse ready for the 40KM (25 mils), the start time were 30 minutes apart.

There were 12 riders in the 120KM, 54 in the 80KM and 66 in the 40KM, 132 horses total, biggest turn out for the MGIER.

Shaklan was a little bit nervous, I let him grazed before getting tack up, he seemed to relax a little but as soon as I got on, the "I need to go NOW" behavior started, I was thinking of what Dawn Engle had suggested me for my own little nervous mare: think quiet, easy ride, but when you enter this big stadium on a horse joining a group of 65 other horses, quiet is quickly replaced by a Oh My God, I'm on a horse in Malaysia about to go on trail for an endurance ride!!!! Craziness!
That got quickly interrupted by a FEI steward telling me I had to change my shoes (I had not enough heal for open stirups, safety, safety!) if I wanted to be able to start in the ride!
So now I am off my horse, running around for caged stirups, nobody had a spare pair or they were not understanding me (between my frenchglish and the grooms not speaking fluent english, it was probably pretty comical to watch), so I quickly changed strategy and asked for shoes, I had several people (women and men!) offering me their!

But all way too big for me (i'm a size 6), so I started scouting around and found a group of young Malaysian girls in riding clothes (they were crewing), I asked one of them and she was exactly my size! And had a spare pair (probably for their rider to use as I got my shoes back all wet and dirty, more than fair to me though, and it's not like the ones I used were sparkling clean after I used them).
So here I was on the horse, the last one to leave the stadium, but the stirups/shoes hunting got me and Shaklan distracted from the start buzz, so that was finally quite a good thing, but I would not advised it to anyone.
So I was riding Shaklan who realized quickly what we were doing, he was not happy with me trying to hold him off at a certain speed, it was HOT and HUMID! I kept an eye on my HRM and each time the horse was above 170/180, I can see some of you jumping in front of their computer, but a fit horse will walk at 100, 110 here cause of the humidity, so it was reasonable to keep him under 180 and walk until he was back down to 110 or so. My plan was also to walk all the uphills, as it was not a flat track and to trot on the side of the roads at a around a 7MPH trot, about 25% was on tar roads, and the dirt roads were actually very concussive, this was not an easy ride! I stopped at all the water stops and poured water on Shaklan. He was doing great! Not drinking enough to my state though!

Riding in the palm tree fields was absolutely magical, tropical birds singing along the way, people and kids waving hello as we were passing by, it was all too unreal!

We finish the 1st 20KM in a little less than 2 hours and 10 minutes, Shaklan pulsed down in 8 minutes at 52, pulse parameters were 56 in the 40KM with 2 presentations only and the horses needed to be in pulse criteria in under 20 minutes. We got cleared to go on the 2nd loop, yeah!

Shaklan ate well, I kept pouring water on him and checked him before we left, he was 46, everything looked good. We went off but I quickly felt nauseous, the heat was taking its toll on me and I sadly realized I would not make it through, so I decided to withdraw and walk back toward the stadium with a car escorting me and Shaklan to make sure i was OK!

Shaklan pulsed down right away, passed his vet check looking brilliant and I had so much sadness in me, but oh well, it happens, just I wish it did not happen right there.

I felt better as there was a nice breeze in the stadium. I got to watch horses going through the vet inspections, there were quite a lot of pulls for lameness and tired horses, but some of them were still looking full of GO!

I helped a couple of riders to cool down their horses and I was back on my game, feeling happy to help and still realizing how amazing it was for me to be doing what I love in Malaysia!
After a while things started to be quiet as the riders were more spread, I had a snack of Malaysian noodles, very yummy and I was falling asleep on a chair, a British lady (Joannie?) living in Kuala Lumpur told me one of her friend was going back to the hotel if I needed a ride, it was around 2:30AM, so I gladly took the offer. We unfortunately got lost and it took us about an hour to get back to the hotel.
I took a shower, set up my alarm clock and crashed!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Melaka - pre ride day - a long day

Hello everyone! -So i'm going to try to sum up my day, I woke up at 7AM (7PM east coast time) feeling rested so i decided to go try my very own endurance to the heat and humidity: I went running by the beach down to the hotel, while I was at it, I run barefoot, well, I'm NOT ready for this kind of humidity, I run about 1.5 miles and it was HARD, I can only image what the horses will go through tomorrow... It's a good thing the rides happen at night here.

After this I had breakfast with Sarah, Peter from Singapore (3 hours drive from Melaka), he keeps his horses here and compete in Malaysia a lot, he is very knowledgeable and was very helpful today. And also his wife (forgot her name), and 2 young girls from Australia, coming to ride in the 40K.
We had a gargantuous breakfast and then we headed to the stables.

They are established for the ride only, around a huge stadium.

OH MY GOD! So many NICE horses here! I would love to take a couple back home, a lot of them with very very good conformation.

I met Shaklan, the horse I will ride in the 40K (25 miles), he is a big boy, probably 15.3, gorgeous head, he was bought by the king and then handed to Hamdan (the maestro ride organizer ).

I wondered around pretty much all day, taking pictures, talking to people, it was a very nice day. Tomorrow there are a lot of riders, I could get to know how many in each distance.
There are riders from all over: Singapore, Chili, Australia, New Zealand, of course Malaysia, France and US (I apparently gain the double nationality, I wish!)

We headed back to the hotel just on time (ok, ok, a little late) for a fabulous diner with live music and dance near the beach, I tried all kind of foods, I have always been curious and will try anything new in sight, hmm everything was delicious (and spicy).

I was heading to the bar to take my local ambien (beer) so I could fall asleep right away, when I found a Chilean breeder doing the same thing as me, we had a nice chat, he breed arabians and anglos and is very active in the endurance world in south America.

It was a long day, and know i'm ready to collapse (the local ambien did its job), tomorrow is another long day, we are being tourist during the day, visiting the beautiful city of
Melaka (UNESCO Wolrd Heritage Centre) and the day will be ending by an endurance ride, yeah!!!

Wish me luck! A lot of beautiful but HOT horses here!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Melaka - 1st day

Melaka - 1st day  So Sarah Adams (Sarah is the FEI grand jury) and I arrived at the Everly Resort into a chaos of military uniforms and soldiers, there were hundreds of them, in the hotel, in the elevators, lobby, on the beach, everywhere...
We soon realized they are having a combined training of the Malaysian and Indonesian army, exercising on terrorism attack situations, There are signs announcing there might be gunshots, bombs,... and there were, Sarah and I were having coffee/tea when we heard a bomb!!!
Well, luckily today was the last day, there is a giant party tonight, music in the courtyard and dressed tables. I guess it's related.

Hamdan was very busy today and we did get to meet him, so Sarah and I decided to go into Melaka on our own, what a lovely city, the mix of Portuguese and Asian architecture is very interesting and works quite well, it's a very colorful city with a smiling person at every corner.

Sarah has just flew from Melbourne and me, well you know, I have travelled for almost 24 hours, so both decided to treat ourselves to a massage, boy did that feel good, I felt asleep for a little while and thought i would never get up (usually massages put me in a sleepy mood), it was the contrary, I felt rejuvenated, the masseuse was fantastic, finding the knots and getting rid of them slowly, hmmm marvelous.

We ate a chicken rice ball at a place full of malaysians :-) Yummy!

So I'm still up, music coming from the courtyard, I still have to meet Hamdan, I'm going to go the lobby and see if he's around.

I'm very pleased to have meet Sarah Adams, she is a lovely lady, she was born in England and moved years ago to Australia, she has now her Australian citizenship, funny to run into someone with a similar story on the other side of the world.

I will try to gather more info on Sarah, her riding background and her FEI history.
I understood she is closely involved in the Tom Quilty ride :-)

I probably won't post anything more today. Tomorrow, all the pre-ride organization is going on, registration, ride briefing, vetting in, etc...

I most likely will ride in the 40km since the FFE (French Equestrian Federation) has not been very helpful :-( I really need to think about getting the American citizenship!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Arrived at Kuala Lumpur!

My trip went just fine, I just arrived and use the free WIFI of the airport.I found the person in charge of driving me and another person, we are waiting on, so i'm using these minutes, she should be here anytime,

More later...Sandra

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Melaka - departure

So I'm on the plane (this is getting more real now), I already had my little adventure emotion when while checking in, my passport would not go through the scanning process and when it did, my info were saying I was chian wouz (or something similar) a US male born in 1940, hmm this does not describe my identity so accurately.
So a hostess helped me and ask me where is my visa for India????
I was like what? I don't need a visa I'll be in transit, she insists I need one, I can't leave!
My heart is beating like I run for the olympics!

I'm trying to explain it's a mistake, anyway, she finally understood and let me check in, she apologized like 10 times when she realized she nearly made me have a heart attack.

But all is well, plane is ready to take off, I need to turn my phone off.

Never been on a plane for 15+ hours, oh well, I'll be in Malaysia soon, so I'm not complaining.

More from the Asian continent...

Melaka Grand Invitational Endurance Ride 2010

Hello everyone!    So the excitement is at its highest degree!   I'm all packed, ready to go, well, first I have to drag my suitcase to work, yes, I'm working today and will leave straight from work at around 5PM since my flight is at 8:30PM at Newark, NJ. I will have a lay over of a little over 2 hours in New Delhi, India, just this is making me happy, I will have been in India!!! I will have to come back to really visit and spend some real time there and see more than boarding gates and airport food courts (never been a fan).

I just called the FFE (French Equestrian Federation) so I can have an authorisation letter to ride in the 50 miles rides, this is an FEI ride and I need a letter letting me ride into a foreign country, French people are lovely (I mean I know what I'm talking about, right?!) but they are always on vacation (hmm sometimes makes me wonder why I moved to the US), so the FFE offices were closed for Easter since last Friday and just reopen today!

I got lucky and talked with a very nice lady whom seems fairly sure I will have my authorisation by tomorrow, yeah! I'm going to be able to ride a 50 miles ride in Malaysia, the horse i'm supposed to ride is named Shaklan, I looked him up on the FEI website a 12 years old grey (yeah! I am grey horse crazy) Arabian foaled in Australia, sounds really nice to my ears.

Ok, off to work and drag my suitcase through the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan! Wish me luck that might be the toughest part of my trip :-)

More later tonight from the airport...