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    Re: [RC] OD (Long) - Heidi Smith

    Thanks, Mike.  And you're right.  Most of us would jump for joy if we could finish 100% of the starting field, happy, healthy, and sound.  As ride vets, I know I speak for the majority of us in saying that we'd like to be able to recognize pending problems far enough in advance that the rider could still alter ride strategy and finish safely by slowing down, taking extra time to feed, or whatever, to keep the horse from having a problem.  And we can't do that for riders who don't communicate minor concerns to us.  I don't know many ride vets who want to be cops.  There are days when I've actually cried because I've had to pull a horse at the end or near the end of a tough 100 when he just wasn't right.  We're part of the team, there to be eyes and hands and knowledgeable brains that can be the advocate of the horse when the rider is caught up in the competition and can't see the small stuff creeping up that could become "big stuff" if the horse goes on.  While Howard is right that we don't want to have horses standing under a tree with IV bottles, we don't pull them just to eliminate the "chance" of that happening by the odds--we pull them because it is truly in their best interests to be pulled.  In most cases, ride vets will try to help riders make different choices, if a problem is not advanced to the point of being a threat yet to the horse.  And gee, Howard, wouldn't you really rather NOT have your own horse under a tree with an IV line hooked up?  It isn't for our own convenience that we don't want that horse to go on--heck, we could bring a whole bunch of techs and set up a hospital out there.  It is because we don't want the HORSES to have to go through that.  And if you as a rider have already crossed that line without recognizing it, be grateful that we are there to help you out and let you know, hopefully before it is too late.  As Mike said, we can't prevent you from overriding between checks.  We're not out there every step of the way monitoring what you do.  The vast majority of riders that I've known have been grateful to be shown where they have crossed the line, before it IS too late--because they care about their buddies and want them to be around to run another day.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Mike Sofen
    Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 9:49 AM
    Subject: RE: [RC] OD (Long)

    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

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