Equestrian team hoping for last-minute games inclusion

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An equestrian rider clears bars at Cambodian Country Club in Phnom Penh on June 12. CHHORN NORN

President of the Cambodian Equestrian Federation Tep Mona said the leadership and athletes of the federation showed no sign of giving up on their dreams of competing for medals at the 32nd SEA Games in the Kingdom. The affirmation was made in spite of the fact that equestrian sports are not currently listed among the 40 sports scheduled for the games.

At the April SEA Games Federation Council Meeting, held in Siem Reap with all ASEAN partners present, the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) successfully submitted 40 sports for inclusion in the games. They included Bokator, but did not include equestrian.

“No matter what the outcome of the meeting, we must be ready for the show jumping and long distance race events. Even if we don’t get a chance to compete at these games, there are still international competitions to prepare for,” said Mona.

CAMSOC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun told the Post that a second meeting would be held with the SEA Games council in the near future. The meeting would provide an chance to make changes to the final selection of sports that would be contested.

Mona remained confident and expects that equestrian will be re-selected for the first SEA Games in Cambodia.

“Although it has not yet been chosen, I am still hopeful. We will keep up our training, because our goal is to claim a medal for the Kingdom,” added Mona.

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An equestrian rider clears bars at Cambodian Country Club in Phnom Penh on June 12. CHHORN NORN

With their target set of competing for medals, the federation has been developing male and female riders in the show jumping and long distance racing events. They need to make sure they are performing at the level they will need to be competitive should the chance present itself.

On June 12 and 13, the federation held a training course in equestrian jumping at the Cambodian Country Club for its riders. Students from the Royal University of Agriculture also attended, to gain a better understanding of horse care and preparation in a competition environment.

“Caring for these animals before, during and after an event is very important. They must be carefully examined by veterinarians and caretakers they should be monitored for heart rates and possible injuries,” said Mona.

The event concluded with a 60cm to one metre show jumping competition, which Mona said helped develop the bonds between horses and riders,

“Show jumping is a special sport. If you kick a football, it feels nothing. A horse is different. He must be calm and confident to jump well. If the rider is frightened, the horse will sense it and won’t commit to jumps. This can be very dangerous for both horse and rider, so there needs to be a good understanding between them,” added Mona.

Rinda Menglong, a youth equestrian jumper from the national team, considered the training useful for him and his mount.

“This course was useful and I feel a lot stronger as a rider, ahead of the 2023 games. The training also gave my horse much needed experience jumping. We are building a strong bond, which is important because we need to work as a team,” said the 17-year-old.