Penny toft has horses in her blood, coming from an equestrian family she started out making a name for herself in the show ring. Having won many champion hack & pony, in harness and ridden classes aswell as winning Horse of the Year titles, Penny decided to make the switch to endurance.
This change of direction proved hugely successful and Penny is well known among the best endurance riders Internationally.
In 2001 Penny was third at the WA Tom Quilty, in 2002 she was a member of the bronze medal winning team at WEG in Jerez. In 2003 at the Tom Quilty in NSW she was 3rd and in 2004 she competed in the Tevis Cup USA for a 17th place overall. Penny has competed and in and won many Gold, silver, and bronze medals at World Championships.
Penny will be riding Don, a seasoned Part Arabian Endurance Horse. He is bay,14 years and over the last 5 years has been succesfully completing 160km rides with Penny. He competed in the World Endurance Championships in Malaysia for an overall 18th place. Penny says „Don is in his prime and has never been better“.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Penny while she is based at the amazing Kentucky Equine Research faciltiy and she shared some of her thoughts with us…
When did you arrive in the US?
Where have you and Don been based since arriving?
We have been extremely priveleged to have been based at theKentucky Equine Research Farm in Versailles. We have had the use of the Farms fascilities including Walker, Treadmill, paddocks and convenient trails. The Horses have settled in well to their routine and it will be hard to move on to the Horse Park later this week. My Husband, Peter and Daughter (Groom), Alexandra are staying on the Farm with DON.
When will you be arriving at the Horse park in Kentucky?
Our Team leaves for the Horse Park on Friday the 24th September.
How are you feeling in the leadup to WEG, are you nervous?
Nervous, YES, but also excited as I feel that my Horse is ready for this race.
I dont know much at all about Endurance, can you give me a little rundown on the distance you will be riding and how the competition works?
This Championship Event is 160km. It is divided into 6 Loops which start at the Horse Park and loop around local Farmland and then back to the Park. The leg lenghts vary from 18- 40km long. The Horses after they finish the loop are inspected by a Veterinarian and if they pass all parametres go into a hold time of between 30-50min where they rest and eat and drink. The winner is the Horse/Rider combination to finish 1st and to pass the final Vet Inspection.
Will you have a groom/s?
Yes, I have 2 Offical Grooms. 1) Our Daughter Alexandra 2) My sister Helen Toft. Both are Endurance Riders and know DON as well as I do, I also have Anne Hall, who is a very good American friend of ours and very experienced in this field.
Who will be making the trip over from your support people, sponsors, owners & family?
We have our Team Officials- Trish Annetts (Chef de Quippe), Denise Trollope, Robyn Mathers (Team Vet), Narelle Cribb, Barbara Timms (Squad Manager), Jackie Byrnes (High Perforamnce Coach). We also have coming to support the Team Matthew Krahnen (President QERA) and Team Farrier, Mark Peel.
What is your goal for WEG?
To achieve the very best result possible on the Day.
Will you be flying straight back home to Australia post WEG?
No, Alexandra and I will be staying to support the rest of the Aussie Team and to enjoy watching other Events
What do you think is going to be the highlight of this WEG for you?
I enjoy the lead up to the Event, not so much the day of the competition. The highlight for me will be when it is all over and all the hard work and dedication has paid off.
To keep updated with Penny's Blog, click here
Or you can have a look at the Toft Endurance website here