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  • - Heidi Smith

    RE: [RC] OD (Long) - Mike Sofen

    I'll be the one to tell you you're nuts.  In the 6 years I've been competing, I've NEVER - not once - been pulled arbitrarily or without cause.  In some cases, the vet saw something that I couldn't see (I remember a comment: "...there's a vague tightness in the hindquarters"), or was caused by having to wait in line for 40 minutes on a cold wind-swept ridge.  But in all cases, my horse wasn't perfect and I didn't care that I couldn't see it.
    In the West, I've competed in both the NW and W regions and the vet judging has been quite consistently good, and hasn't gotten "tougher" at all.  I ALWAYS point out the horse's physical issues to the vet at check in, so that they are aware of his fault points or previous injuries in advance.   Vets are not at the ride to "thin out the herd".  They would certainly be striving to prevent horses from ending up on IVs, but contrary to your vision of the world, they can't prevent you from riding your horse to exhaustion in between vet checks.
    Mike Sofen

    My theory goes as follows, and it's really quite simple:  The fewer horses you have competing, the less the odds become that one of them will get into serious trouble at a ride.  I believe that most head vets fear this as much, if not more, than the rider.  They do not want a horse standing under a tree hooked up to an IV at their ride, so to eliminate the chances of that happening, any horse that comes into the vet check that has anything wrong, or appears to have anything wrong, is going to get pulled, and this does include horses that, technically, are "fit to continue" using AERC guidelines.  One of the many subjective areas where the vets can "thin out the herd" is with the grade one or two lameness, or using the CRI, whenever the second number is higher than the first, even if the first number is in the low 40's.  And, the list goes on and on and on.  Reduce the number of horses competing and the chances of a really big problem occurring decrease dramatically.

    There's one ride I've been to where the pull rate was so high one year, that particular head vet was never asked to return.  The vet went overboard, and the Ride Manager knew this.  It does happen!  Sometimes, in our efforts to save the whales, we end up draining the ocean.  The pendulum does swing, and it's currently traveling in the opposite direction from where it used to be 20 or so years ago in this sport.  We need to bring it back closer to the middle, where it belongs.


    Howard (Bob is probably gonna tell me it's those 600 dollar horses that I buy, to make myself feel good, that's the problem; or it's just me)

    [RC] OD (Long), Howard Bramhall