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    [RC] WEG letter from Aussies - terre

    Hi, ridecampers

    Did you all take note of this paragraph:
    "The FEI should insist that all NFs that want to be affiliated with the FEI have a suitable Rider Qualification Procedure and Horse Welfare monitoring system, and that this be maintained and subject to ad hoc inspection by the FEI." ?
    "Horse Welfare Monitoring System", eh? (sorry, I'm Canadian).
    Do you all think that we are in compliance with this concept?
    AERC (BOD/Vet Committee) has been trying for some years to implement something of this nature; there have been various problems implementing the rider survey forms, veterinary report forms, etc--but the attempt is being made. The biggest obstacle? Us, the riders.
    We all like to brag about how concerned we are about horse welfare, how much we want to protect the horses from (other people's!) abuse, etc. But time and again, we see posts or hear reports from people who would move heaven and earth to get their pull listed as RO rather than M or L. Various riders, some of them extremely experienced and respected competitors, have openly reported that horses they have ridden have had metabolic problems (crashes, thumps, tie-ups etc)--these are the people who are both honest, and confident enough in themselves to risk the response of the public. Some riders have been, frankly, attacked in print when they posted similar reports.
    But until we--and I mean you and I, brothers and sisters!--are willing to be 'up front' about problems experienced by our horses, any claim to a 'horse welfare monitoring system' is a joke. We need to: honestly report to the ride vets any problems we perceive, and allow them to be accurately reported in the results (even if the decision to pull is the rider's).
    We need to: be up front with the ride vets about problems our horses have experienced in training--especially colics and tie-ups. If such disclosure causes the vets to pull us, then maybe that is what has to happen.
    The BOD/Vet committee is, I understand, trying to lay out a framework for following up on horses treated at rides, and also for establishing a forum where riders can report problems that occur within a few days of a ride. We need to be energetic and accurate about responding to these queries!
    It is my belief that for every equine fatality (at home or in FEI) there are many "near misses". Until we can analyse the factors that contribute to these less-serious 'failures', we will never be able to prevent disasters--only wring our hands in sorrow and cast blame liberally around after the event.
    I know what you're thinking--that "new riders", that "abusive riders", that "other people" won't report their problems honestly, so why should you? But in this life, you can never control what "other people" do--you can only control yourself. So how many of us are ready to do what it REALLY takes to protect our horses?

    Terre O'Brennan (AERC #2548)

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