August 24, 2019

Local student to compete at World Endurance Riding Championships in Italy

Young Rider Kimberly Loutzenheiser and horse DM Michaelangelo (Photo courtesy of Mark Baldino)

(Franklin, GA) — A Heard County High School student continues to achieve at a high level in the unusual equestrian sport of endurance riding.

Junior Kimberly Loutzenheiser recently qualified for the U.S. Endurance Team and will compete at the FEI Endurance World Championships for Young Riders and Juniors next month in Pisa, Italy.

The 16-year-old earned her exclusive spot on the team of five riders with her strong finish in Ashland, Montana earlier this summer aboard DM Michaelangelo, a 10-year-old Arabian gelding owned by Rae Shumate-Tysor.

She finished in first place at the Montana event completing the 75 mile course in just over 7 hours, 36 minutes with an average speed of 15.78 kilometers per hour. Her time remarkably exceeded the required International Certificate of Capability qualifying time by nearly an hour.

The Montana event was Kimberly’s first time riding Michaelangelo and she says he is quite a special animal.

“One thing I’ve learned about him is he is such a smart horse,” says Kimberly. “He’s an easy ride and has a big heart. His owner did an amazing job training him.”

Following the Montana event, she was invited in June to a Selection Camp in Maryland which led to her official U.S. Team invite in early July.

The sport of endurance riding is a long-distance competition against the clock, testing the speed and stamina of both horse and rider. It challenges each combination to provide an effective use of pace and navigational skills over undulating terrains. Endurance is the ultimate test of the partnership between horse and rider.

Mandatory vet checks and rest periods are a key aspect of the competition and ensure horse and rider welfare through the long distance tests.

In endurance riding, horses are given emergency-room attention several times during a competition, but not because they have life-threatening problems.

Young Rider Kimberly Loutzenheiser and DM Michaelangelo in Montana (Photo courtesy of Mark Baldino)

Checkups are scheduled around every 15 miles to give the horses a short breather and confirm they are physically sound enough to continue.

The on the spot exams also play an important strategic role in endurance riding because the faster a horse’s heartbeat falls to 64 beats a minute, the sooner the rider is allowed to resume the ride. So it behooves horse owners and riders to keep their 1,000-pound machines in good working order and not push them beyond their limits just to win.

Kimberly began riding horses when she was just 12 years old, and fittingly she also competes in long-distance running as a member of the HCHS Cross-Country and Track and Field teams.

She currently maintains a 2019 ranking of No. 32 in the world according to the FEI Endurance Young Riders World Rankings, and she is the top-ranked young rider in the United States. The sport is largely dominated by riders from Arabian countries.

Kimberly has performed exceptionally well in 2019 earning first place finishes in all three of her events including a top finish on her favorite Course in Biltmore, NC in May.

She is extremely excited for the opportunity to travel to Italy compete at the World Championships versus the best of the best on the planet.

“It’s such a humbling experience and I am so excited. I am very thankful for all of the people that have helped me so much,” Kimberly states. “A lot of people don’t understand the sport that well and many people think it is crazy to ride so fast and so far on a horse but it is just awesome to be out there in nature and viewing God’s beautiful creation.”

She refers to her talent at Endurance Riding as a God-given passion.

Kimberly and her family are thankful for the support shown by the Heard County school system as she will need to miss a week of school to travel to Italy and compete. She says track coach Cory Shelnutt has been a great supporter and offered lots of encouragement. The coach says he’s not surprised by Kimberly’s immense success.

“We are just so proud of her. You can tell the sport is such a passion for Kimberly and I think it has even translated to more success in her long distance running or perhaps her running has helped her out on the horses — either way riding a horse for 75 miles is a test of endurance for both the rider and the horse,” says Coach Shelnutt.

Michaelangelo will travel to Italy via cargo plane next month and Kimberly’s entourage/crew consists of several different people that will all make the trip.

If you would like to make a donation to help with the expenses for Kimberly’s trip click here.

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