(Reuters) - The World Equestrian Games (WEG) got off to a stuttering start on Wednesday when the endurance event was canceled due to dangerously high heat and humidity with more trouble looming as Hurricane Florence barrels towards North Carolina.
Heavy afternoon rains around Tryon, North Carolina that made the trail unsafe combined with temperatures hovering near 85 Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) and suffocating humidity to force officials to halt one of the opening day’s events.
Two other events, dressage individual and team qualifying, and reining went off as scheduled.
“This was a difficult decision to make, but it was done with horse and athlete welfare in mind as the conditions this afternoon after the rain resulted in extremely high levels of humidity and combined with rising heat, it was deemed unsafe to continue the ride,” the president of the Veterinary Commission Thomas Timmons in a statement.
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) did not immediately say if the endurance event would be rescheduled.
The WEG, which runs until Sept. 23, is staring at the possibility of more cancellations with Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolina coast.
The Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) which is located approximately 250 miles (402km) inland from where Florence is most likely to strike but could still feel significant impact from a storm still on track to become the first Category 4 hurricane to make a direct hit on North Carolina in six decades.
National Hurricane Center forecasts indicate that parts of North Carolina could get 40 inches (one meter) of rain.
Adding to a rocky first day, FEI said it was also investigating a false start in the endurance event along with the circumstances that resulted in some horse/rider combinations being misdirected.
Editing by Ian Ransom