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Current to Wed Jul 23 17:35:57 GMT 2003
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  • - Bob Morris
  • Prev by Date: [RC] I dont think this will affect endurance
  • - Don Pollock

    [RC] The Way We Win - Roberta Jo Lieberman

    If we had hewed to the original purpose of the sport of endurance, we wouldn't
    be having this conversation. The "father" of endurance riding, Wendell Robie,
    never intended endurance to be a "race" -- he wanted to prove the *quality* of
    horses over time, not the one-day flash in the pan.
    But the passage of time and more recently, the advent of international
    competition, is rapidly changing our sport.....in fact, many contend that
    "desert racing" is a completely *different* sport than endurance riding. The
    genie is out of the bottle, and many people are horrified by what they see.
    Bob asked: > How many horses have been impaired by
    endurance competition and how many horses have met an
    untimely death caused by endurance competition? <
    It's the *trend* toward more wrecks and deaths seen as avoidable, most recently
    directly attributable to overriding as Dane Frazier pointed out on the recent
    WEG, that is troubling people and engendering the search for solutions. And you
    don't have to be a front-runner to kill your horse. Perhaps more than speed,
    "Ambition kills". Or more precisely, "Ambition on the day kills."
    Agreed, life is filled with risks (and chess surely must raise cortisol levels).
    It is impractical and impossible to eliminate all risk. But as we wrote in the
    introduction to the Way We Win in the June 2001 issue of Endurance News,
    "Increasingly, Americans are unwilling to accept what is seen as *pointless*
    risk to animals that have no choice in the matter." Call it larger cultural
    influences at work that are shifting what's acceptable.
    Heidi wrote: >And what about the benefits of fitness that have extended the
    lives of many
    horses, who would NOT had been made fit, or received the care they have
    received, were it not for a sport that appeals to a great many people who
    genuinely CARE about their horses?>
    Indeed, we have a fabulous sport that encourages and showcases truly fit horses
    who enjoy their work, and human partners who are in touch with every aspect of
    their physiology like no other. Endurance riders are constantly learning; our
    sport is a living laboratory and we love nothing more than discovering a new way
    to rig a saddle, mix an electrolyte, or even measure the elevation of the trail
    more precisely, all for the benefit of our horses.
    The admirable state of affairs that Heidi is describing wouldn't change for the
    majority of participants (why would people leave when they are being rewarded
    for what they are already doing?) And more folks will be attracted to endurance
    from OTHER horse sports when they see the water's fine, extending the very
    benefits she extols. The only people who will go and buy motorcycles are those
    who are in it to win at all costs. And they'll leave on their own power, since
    they will soon tire of receiving absolutely no validation for their efforts.
    It's also quite possible that a categorical approach rather than head-to-head
    competition would foster more Steve Rojeks, Cia Reis's and Bev Grays. They gave
    us a sterling, if not silver, demonstration of the benefits of riding to
    conserve the "whole"....they finished our USA team and while they didn't medal,
    their mounts will live and thrive to ride another day. It's a model worthy of
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