NEAR BIRDS HILL – They’re saddled up and set to take on the world.
Jessica Manness and her horse, Glider, are heading to France next week for their first ever World Equestrian Games where they’ll compete in the 100-mile endurance race.
“I’m just amazed that I’ve qualified,” said Manness. “It’s super exciting. A lot of it is on the beaches of Normandy. There’s twenty miles of beach riding.”
Manness and Glider are Canada’s best shot to trot to the top of the podium. They’re ranked 13th internationally.
“It’s a lot of training,” said Manness. The horse actually conditions better than people. As long as you build up to the level, they have the condition to do it. It doesn’t take much to maintain.”
Each race takes up to ten hours to complete. But unlike running an actual marathon, Manness has to think for two.
“I spend a lot of time focused on making sure we’re not going to fast, staying on the trail and watching where (Glider’s) feet are going,” said the 35-year-old. “But I also have to think if I’m drinking enough water, am I eating the right food, those sort of things.”
The biggest challenge for Manness leading up to the games wasn’t qualifying, it was paying for Glider’s plane ticket. Most of the $15,000 cost came out of her own pocket. She’s hoping with a high enough finish in France, she’ll spark funding for up and coming riders.
“It was enough trouble for me to try and come up with the fees,” said Manness. “But other people, I don’t want them to lose out because they can’t afford it.”
And miss out on a chance to gallop away with gold.
The 2014 World Equestrian Games run August 23rd to September 7th in Normandy France. Manness and Glider will race August 28th.