Equestrian Jenny Champion with Barack Obama. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
Wairarapa endurance horse Barack Obama has been put down in the United States with kidney complications after a chaotic endurance ride at the World Equestrian Games in the United States last week.
Equestrian Sports New Zealand confirmed the 20-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding was euthanised over the weekend.
He was treated for kidney problems onsite at the Tryon International Equestrian Center [TIEC] in North Carolina and then transferred to the Tryon Equine Hospital for further treatment.
Barack’s owner, Mark Round, opted to euthanise the horse after consulting veterinarians.
Equestrian Sport New Zealand high-performance director Sarah Dalziell-Clout said the team was devastated by the loss.
“He passed a comprehensive vet test prior to leaving NZ and was in good health leading into the race, passing the first two vet checks at the competition.
“The team vet, Nick Page, was confident the horse was race-ready.”
The 160km ride got off to a bad start, with some teams misdirected at the beginning and the competition halted at the first vet gate.
The endurance ride was cancelled due to the combination of extreme heat and humidity, an unusually high number of horses displaying clinical signs of metabolic issues, and the additional exertion required of the horses following heavy rainfall.
By that time, most riders had covered around 40kms.
Security and police were brought in to quell crowds unhappy with the race being abandoned.
Organisers restarted the ride as a 120km event nearly five hours later.
An independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit will undertake a full investigation into the series of events leading to the race’s abandonment.
Barack’s low heart rate made him a star in endurance racing and one of two endurance horses from New Zealand competing in the international event.
He won his first 160km North Island Championship three years ago and was the 160km national winner last year.
Barack won the North Island Championships in January which earned him the ticket to the games.