Topolczianky is an important monument in equine history and it is sprinting into the future by now even offering endurance competitions, thus combining one of the youngest equestrian sports with the background of this important European facility.
As Topolcziankys endurance competition is quite early in the year and offers international standards in a reachable distance (it is only about 500 km from Bavarian/German boarder), we decided to participate with the Kabardian horse Terek and its Cherkessian/Russian rider Shamil Kipov. After being trained in Germany at a Kabardian stud and endurance training stable, the horse was well prepared, and we arrived healthy at the competition area.
In this beautiful area - the horse stable at the most honored main stable of the Topolczianky stud - we enjoyed the facility and by examining track, crewing-route and start-finish-gate-area we found everything well prepared. Also the starting/finishing amidst the impressive scenery of the hippodrome is a rare and well-respected experience.
The competitors on 160km contained qualified international riders, including the 2-times Polish champion. We planned to go an easy ride, not too fast and didn't plan for any position - we just wanted to see what horse and rider can offer that early in the year.
The ride started with some fog and the sun already rising, promising to be a beautiful day. The track was enjoyable and the horses all energetic and enthusiastic about the running.
The organizers had everything well-prepared, the whole team was very kind and encouraged everyone about the competition. And quickly the start came and the riders were on their way.
During the day several competitions started, offering a vast range for everyone interested - rides on 40km, 60km, 80km, 120km and 160km - and the rising number of participants surely is the positive result of the quality, offered already for the second time.
The ride itself led through the landscape on a lot of fine tracks, difficulties and obstacles were well marked and some small rivers had to be crossed. The grooming by the crew was comfortable – only a small improvement for the next time may be in putting bigger reservoirs for water at the water points, so the crew can take water there with a bucket directly and more quickly.
We were astonished with the speed the race started, the first two riders quickly gaining ground before us and leaving us on position 4 together with another rider right before us. But the goal was not to win, but to finish in our planned speed. We also soon noticed the horse is good enough to raise our speed limit a little and we went on with position 4.
Passing without problems through the gates was an easy task for the horse – Terek always regenerated immediately after arriving at each gate. To our astonishment by this, we won back the ground, which we had lost on the first loops and together with the 3rd positioned rider closed up to the leading two riders. And in gate 4 we finally passed by them and took the lead of the ride - closely followed by our competitors.
Surely now we thought about the opportunity to win, but we went on with the increased - but still planned - speed and didn't really compete against the other riders. "Maybe on the last round..." we thought.
The quality in regeneration helped us to loose contact to the riders behind us in the fifth gate and we were able to go alone now - the victory near to grasp but not to be risked. In the last gate we learned that all horses near us had been eliminated for different reasons and we could only loose the victory now by making mistakes. Even though we picked up speed again on the last round and arrived well about 1 hour 15 minutes before the second placed rider in the finish and qualified for the first place by good results at the veterinary inspection. It was unbelievable - we won!
The next day brought another surprise - we also won the price for best condition! What a result!
Finally I have to say thanks a lot to the organizers for such a fabulous ride, it was really worth being an international ride and I am sure, the riders from other countries will soon learn about it and numbers of starters will surely increase even more.
We also know now, where the name Topolczianky comes from, as we will never forget the snow, the "Topol"-trees let fall around us. Snow in May - this is really a beautiful and must-have-seen impression to remember. The organizers already promised to keep the early date for the rides in the future and thus hopefully lots of others will have the opportunity to compete in these "sacred horse grounds" and beneath the snowing trees - we surely will come again!
- Horse: Terek, 9 years, 155cm, kabardian gelding, owned by Vitali Buzdov
- Shamil Kipov: horse-trainer, 48 years, Cherkess of Russian nationality
- Karin Stadtherr and Tobias Knoll: married couple, Germans, 36 years both, breeder of Kabardian horses in Germany and leader of the multinational association for kabardian horses in Germany/Europe.
Article by Tobias Knoll