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Nat'l Champ qualifications and such

I agree the qualifications should be tough. It is a championship ride. Competition among the champions around the country. The course should be challenging (we like to get that adrenaline going!) and the weather we have no control over. No matter where it is held, there will be people who can't travel the distance. Not because they are afraid of the competition, the trail or anything else. Logistically, it just isn't possible. And $400? WHEW! That could be detrimental as well. Especially for more than one rider in the family.
As far as completions, the Tevis was barely 41% ( 91 finishers out of 260+ or something like that) completion. So it wasn't much better than last years NC ride and those horses didn't all look so good either. I was really surprised about that because most of those horses were from that area.
Listen Truman, my comments about what I observed (saw with my own eyes) at the Tevis ride last year and poor completion rate really ticked off some people. What are you gonna do? I didn't make up the statistics! People get ticked, then they get over it. People on this list are REALLY hard to please. At least when they send that ugly e-mail, you know they are thinking about what you said :}
The head vet at the ride meeting (Tevis) said he would like to see about a 60% completion. Didn't happen. I thought he gave a very good "lecture" advising people to use their heads and some common sense and to have some good strategy planned throughout the ride. They had plenty vet checks and the vets were just as cautious there as any ride I have been to.
If the pulse criteria were much lower at some of these rides, the horse would have to be DEAD to get into the vet check. I think the vets do a great job. Tough is good at the holds.  Maybe instead of a 1/2 an hour to pulse down, 20 minutes would suffice. That is still more than enough time if your horse is fit. Of course, that could result in an even higher pull rate. The vets can't train your horses but they can try to help you complete at the rides. They are there it keep the horses as safe as possible.When they say slow down, then slow down. Listen to what they have to say. If you are always pulled, it wouldn't hurt to take some advice from the vet, if from no one else. ('cause horse people take advice sooooo well you know)
If you hang around the vet area long enough, you will see a large number of riders riding their horses at a much higher level than they obviously trained for. Horses that are taking 20+ minutes to come down to pulse are going way faster than their heart and lungs were trained for. Horses that are pulled for lameness more than once or twice are having a hard time maintaining a certain level of speed. (excluding trips, falls, bad shoe job, no shoe job, kicks, etc,.) It doesn't have to be that fast, it is just faster than what your horse is capable of doing.
Or maybe these horses just don't cut it for "racing" these rides and the owners are just oblivious to that and keep pushing until they have to get another horse. Maybe some riders think that riding a certain amount of miles a week and running at the rides is enough. Or maybe that is all the training they can do. And maybe that works for some teams.
For the most part, winning (and that is what everybody is there for) comes from hard work and dedication. Not hap-hazard training with no goals in mind.
Horse and rider teams need to be prepared for any task at hand. Otherwise, the team is set for failure.
I would love to see better completion rates at rides, as would the vets I am sure. Especially championship rides where the cream of the crop is competing. Those teams should be prepared. On the other hand, the competition will be the toughest, no matter what the terrain and you will be pushing your team to the max. As long as you prepare for that, that is all you can do. Loony Lance and I will be there someday, when we are ready.
Lisa Salas, The Odd Farm
P.S. Just the thought of being whupped up on from the people on this list for over riding my horse is enough to slow me down! It's brutal :)

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