FEBRUARY 2020 THE RIDER /35 GRIT Athlete Team Announcement The program is called

GRIT – Great Rider Inten- sive Training. After a year of pro-

gram development, with the support of Olympic disci- pline

experts, Ontario

Equestrian launched an ex- citing new Provincial athlete development program in November of 2019. Following an over-

whelming response to our initial call for applications, 20 riders have been selected to the team - 12 show jumpers, six eventers and two dressage athletes. “We are committed as

an organization with finan- cial and human resources to work with these incredible young athletes, and to sup- port them with leading-edge sport expertise which will help them achieve their goals. It’s the PSO’s role to provide resources to young talent to aid in their success and give them a solid foun- dation to become champi- ons in sport and in life.” commented


McCague-McElrea, Execu- tive Director at Ontario Equestrian. On December 17th,

the first training camp and athlete orientation was held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, with the sup- port of sport science experts from the Canadian Sport In- stitute of Ontario (CSIO), GRIT Head Coach, Chris- tilot Boylen and National Eventing Committee Chair, Ruth Allum. An important feature

of GRIT is that it requires the participation of the “ath- lete team” – the athlete, the coach and parents that are supporting the athlete on their journey. The orientation began

with a welcome and encour- aging words via Skype from 10-time Olympic Show Jumper, Ian Millar. Later Paul Poirier, an Olympic

Figure Skater, shared his podium-bound story includ- ing the importance of a sport science support team that he credits to his success. A memorable moment

in Paul’s talk was his reflec- tion that all high-perfor- mance athletes tend to be super disciplined and self- sufficient, but at some point, you realize that you can be better by tapping into sport science experts – nutrition- ists, sport psychologists, strength and conditioning coaches who help athletes both avoid and recover from injury.

The GRIT athletes

then had a tour and a train- ing session at the CSIO High Performance Training Centre,

received their

strength and conditioning “GRIT kits” and were pro- vided an online video pro- gram to continue their training at home. The athletes then at-

tended a session with a Nu- trition Specialist, providing them with the guidance to understand the effects of nu- trition and hydration during athlete performance, and the importance of developing good habits for their long-

Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage and Air Pollution

air quality monitoring stations and weather stations near Woodbine and Woodbine Mo- hawk Park racetracks cross referenced with endoscopic exams to determine if there are patterns between EIPH and horses exercising in areas of increased air pollution or in cooler temperatures. Collaborator Dr. Alison first

Moore approached

Story by: Jackie Bellamy- Zions

Exercise Induced Pul-

monary Hemorrhage (EIPH) is estimated to effect between 44 – 85% of Thoroughbreds and up to 87% of Standard- breds worldwide. There is

concern in racing circles that EIPH can shorten a race- horse’s career and in rare worst-case scenarios cause sudden death from massive hemorrhage. Dr. Janet Beeler- Marfisi (OVC, Department of Pathobiology) and her collab- orators plan to use data from

Beeler about the project, based on listening to industry concern from astute racetrack veterinarians who felt there could be an association be- tween environmental condi- tions and the occurrence of EIPH. “It’s currently on peo- ple’s minds”, says Beeler. “This research is born out of the desire to provide optimal health for equine athletes and will involve trainers, owners

and veterinarians working to- gether to find answers to the question of environmental in- fluence.” Studies in horses are

lacking when it comes to link- ing pulmonary hemorrhage to ambient air pollution (smog) but a relationship has been demonstrated between EIPH and cooler


Other unrelated studies have drawn a link between haz- ardous ozone conditions and slower race times. Airway in- flammation has also been as- sociated with exposure to air pollution. Beeler expects that smog

and racing during cool or cold months will have the highest likelihood of a statistically significant association with EIPH and decreased racing performance; basing this hy-

pothesis on literature from en- doscopically diagnosed EIPH in Ontario Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. With over 9,000 horses

in the two track locations scoped per year, the two-year study will be drawing data from samples from track vet- erinarians when the horse owner has agreed to share the information. Owner and horse information will


anonymous in the research paper. The veterinarians will be working from a standard- ized form to record endo- scopic exam results. Just as humans can mod-

ify their exercise based on a quick glance at weather re- ports; if the findings of this study confirm links to EIPH and smog in horses, trainers and veterinarians can work to

lessen the effects on the horse. Some management changes may include altering training times or intensity on days with high smog or colder tem- peratures or adjusting post times. Ultimately, further re- search on a link between EIPH and air pollution could reveal more information about the development of EIPH and reduce reliance on medications

such as

furosemide. This project is possible

due to a grant from Equine Guelph, generously supported by Ontario Racing. It will be important to trainers and vet- erinarians in the Ontario rac- ing industry; especially to those with racetracks in close proximity to highways and airports.

term optimal development. A team of Equestrian

and High-Performance Master Coach Developers led a training session on the importance of creating a Yearly Training Plan to en- sure peak performance at critical competitions. Many of the GRIT riders have North American Youth



podium performance goals in their sights!

The program for 2020 will include: • Three designated competi- tions (one for each disci- pline, with eventing athletes invited to participate in the jump and dressage competi-

tions as well); and • Two training camps for the full GRIT athlete team which will


mounted and unmounted training, with the continued support of the sport science experts from the Canadian Sport Institute of Ontario (CSIO). We are also reaching

out to the Provincial Disci- pline Associations and Equestrian Canada to co-or- dinate the timing and pro- gramming for these events. For those who missed

the deadline or didn’t make this year’s GRIT team, please contact: Hilary Gre- gory, Program Coordinator to be included in future ap-

plication process communi- cation: h.gregory@ontarioe- GRIT team updates will be posted on Ontario Equestrian’s social media, and on the News sec- tion of the OE website.

Ontario Equestrian News Release

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