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Top Endurance Riders At Pan American Championship

TROUT LAKE, WA - - Over 100 endurance riders and their horses from 10 countries are gathering at the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest at Trout Lake, WA for the 2003 Pan American Endurance Championship. The USA will field five teams while Canada is sending two. The countries of Denmark, Germany, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Spain and Sweden are also sending top ranked riders to challenge the trails.

Competitors will begin the 100 mile (160 km.) ride over rolling terrain at 5:00 the morning of September 13. Although they have a full 24 hours to complete the ride, the winners are expected to cross the finish line in about half that time. Riders will also be vying for the coveted Best Condition and High Vet Score awards, which reward the excellent physical condition of the top endurance horses.

USA Pacific South rider Heather (Bergantz) Reynolds will be looking to earn her second consecutive individual gold medal, although the horse she is riding is not the one she rode to success at the 2001 PAC. Reynolds, this year’s Tevis Cup winner, said she thinks her chances of doing well with the 7-year-old Arabian gelding Aleclipse are very good. "I feel very good about the ride," she said.

The USA East team will be defending the Team Gold it won at the 2001 Pan American Championship, with three of the winning four riders returning to the squad. They will be joined by Valerie Kanavy and her Arabian gelding Emphatic, co-winners at last year’s World Masters Championship.

PAC 2003 organizer Stephanie Irving said preparations for the competition are on schedule. This being one of the driest years in history, they are working with the Forest Service on a fire prevention plan, and a strict protocol to reduce the fire risk. The local volunteer fire department will be keeping the camp and the trail supplied with ample water. "We’re fortunate that forestry officials are working with us to allow us to go ahead with the PAC and to keep our riders, horses and the environment safe," said Irving.

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