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Re: [RC] Horse Fatalities, Part Two - Howard Bramhall

I must say I'm so impressed with John's letter I'm going to go back in my corner and shut up about all this for awhile.  I also know I might have made Heidi mad at me, and even though I may be used to that sort of thing, I do believe she's misconstrued my feelings about the vets at rides.  I love the vets and I'm so grateful they are there at our rides.  I believe relieving them of the doing the investigative work that should be done when a horse dies at a ride (there are quite a few different scenarios that might cause the death of a horse that would only come to light via statements from other riders.  And, don't forget the rider's statement, the one riding the horse that lives no longer) is what needs to be done here.  AERC makes the call, via the Horse Welfare Committee, relieving the Vets from any possible law suit (this is America, Howard, any lawsuit against anybody is possible anytime for any reason).
Anyway, thank-you John.  That is quite a fantastic group of folks on that Committee and I can't thank you enough for it's establishment.  In my earlier posts I did give most of the credit for the establishment of the HW Committee to Jim Holland, when, as the key Board member who made it happen on the other end, I neglected to mention your efforts.  For that, I do apologize.
I'll try and be more patient (not, normally, a family trait) with seeing the Committee listed, in print, in Endurance News.
respectfully yours,
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, June 14, 2003 4:50 PM
Subject: [RC] Horse Fatalities, Part Two

(continued from Horse Fatalities, Part One.)

6.  We will be submitting an expanded article describing the membership of the HW Committee and what it will do to EN for publication.  We will also prepare the first in series of articles with a case study of a horse fatality with a focus on what can we do better rather than trying to pillory someone.  Our case studies will deal with broader horse management issues and not just medical causes.  We will also act as a clearinghouse for policy recommendations for the AERC Board.  Among many other things, we will act a as means of contacting and intervening with problem riders before the protest stage or the death or serious injury of a horse.  Although I have prepared a pretty complete outline of the Committee's purposes and functions, I expect it to continue to evolve.  The Committee is an ad hoc committee simply because that's the way I proposed it to the Board.  The Board has been sensitive about creating one committee after another whose purposes tend to get fuzzy after awhile.  I wanted to be sure the Board approved the HW Committee by giving it ad hoc status to make sure it works out.  If anyone had complaints about the ad hoc status or progress of the HW Committee, blame me and me alone.  My wife and I have been struggling through a severe family health problem which is our top priority and I spent way too much time and money putting on my Cincuenta Anos Endurance Ride/50th Birthday Party (for 350 people!) two weeks ago.  Still, I know the other members of the HW Committee are raring to go and the Committee will make important contributions soon.

7.  In the meantime, there are things each one of you can do NOW to help improve the welfare of our horses.  You can:

    A.  Teach beginning riders about how to get their horses through an endurance ride.  I've done this the hour before ride meetings in each of the last two weeks.  I also did it a month or so ago in a separate clinic with a breed group and got some brand new endurance riders out of it.  All of these were well attended, had lively discussions and were very gratifying to me.  Remember that somebody coming to a ride for the first time will seen all the glory lavished on the first to finish and won't understand what it takes to ride that fast responsibly.  It's crucial to inoculate beginners in the culture of riding responsibly right from the start.

    B.  Learn more by your riding and volunteering at rides you don't ride.  If you only do LD, you will learn a lot more by trying 50's.  If you only do 50's, you will learn a lot more doing 100's and multi-days.  There is nothing like going day after day on one horse to really understand what is happening with it.  (Howard, I will have Skjoldur waiting for you at Bryce in Utah on Labor Day.) Volunteer as a vet secretary at a ride to appreciate the vet's perspective and learn all the intangible little things they see.  Assist with ride management; only after I managed my own ride did I see all the crazy things riders will do to themselves and their horses.

    C.  If you see something wrong, have the guts to file a protest.  Give the P&G Committee specific current and factual information now if you see abuse.  Don't just whine with hearsay generalities on ridecamp years later.  Bob Morris put his money where his mouth is with a couple of protests on underage horses and I respect him for it.  I believe the AERC office and other riders are much more vigilant on this issue due to Bob's efforts.

8.  It's time to chill out with the AERC conspiracy talk.  I know it's fun and attention getting to beat your chest over the internet about what the AERC thinks as though it is some sort of monolithic institution with a single conscious mind behind every act or omission.  In reality, the AERC consists of 6,000 people who send in their dues and go to rides,  a hard working office staff which makes no policy, several unknown volunteers who work hard in various committees, and a 26 person Board of Directors that only meets twice a year (although it looks like we will now at least have periodic conference calls).  Although I confess to sometimes being too rude and impatient at Board meetings, anyone who has been to one knows the Board has a nearly impossible time making any meaningful decision.  The idea someone could actually wring order out of this chaos to mount a conspiracy is utterly ridiculous.  It is also unfair to those of us who think hard work for a cause includes more than machine gun posting on ridecamp.  I think these ridecamp discussions keep the heat on and advance the cause, but I also think some of the individual posters will carry more weight if they tone down the rhetoric.

9. I am miffed at Howard and Jim anyway.  After all this talk at Chattanooga about roasting a pig on the farm, I never heard from either of you again to discuss horse fatalities, my fiftieth birthday party ride or anything else.  I invited the whole AERC to my party (incredible Cajun food and monster dance band with ride entry fees of zero for veterans like Bob Morris) and who bothered to come or even wish me happy fiftieth on this list outside of the PSW and W regions?  We still had a great time, so I'll get over it.

John Parke
Solvang CA