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[RC] Comments on Howards Post - KimFue

Howard writes: The one thing I reflect on more than the others is the sport of endurance.? All of this talk we've had on Ridecamp and that other site about horse deaths, all of our actions, the development of the Welfare of the Horse Committee, the obvious fact that we really do want to put the horse first, over everything else in our sport, and here we are still losing horses at the rate we were last year (one of our worst on record).? What the heck is going on?? Is there a commonality that's occurring over the last few years that wasn't occurring when we didn't seem to be losing so many?? Will there ever be a viable answer to all of this?? And, bottom line, what, if anything, are we going to do about it all?

1. Could it be at all possible that the supposed "high" number of deaths reported last year and this year be due to better reporting and reporting horses that died at another location like at the vet hospital or at home after a ride?  Because the number of horse deaths in general are low to begin with wouldn't more accurate reporting from last year and this year possibly skew results to look like deaths were actually on the rise.  I have been involved with this sport since 1985 and it seems that until the last year or so that deaths occurring outside of the ride venue were not even considered in ride related fatalities.  It doesn't mean that they didn't occur.  It would not seem unusual to me to see an increase in deaths reported now that this issue has moved to the fore front of this sport and more accurate reporting has been demanded by the membership.

2. The Welfare of the Horse committee has not even been in existence for one year.  I believe it was created out of a discussion/seminar that was given moderated by John Parke at the 2003 convention in March.  The committee has presented at least one case study in EN.  I understand they will be presenting several recommendations to the board.  In my opinion, this group has moved at lightning speed to address the issues of horse fatalities and bring this information to the membership in general.

3. As emotionally charged as the topic of horse deaths is we need to realize that there is a certain amount of "risk" in this sport.  Horse fatalities will never be zero in endurance riding unless we stop using horses in this sport.  This comment is not made to discourage progress in promoting horse welfare BUT to call attention that band aid like solutions (like mandating a year of LD, mandating x number of 50 mile rides before entering a 100, mandatory vet checks every 15 miles) will not solve this problem.  For every one of these solutions I can think of a horse that has died in each of these scenarios.

I, for one, certainly do not have an answer....I actually think there are probably several solutions that will decrease (not eliminate) horse fatalities at rides.  I think it will take some time to discover these and then enact policy towards this end.  At this point, I don't think it is all that helpful to be comparing fatality rates for 2002 & 2003 and then wonder what is going to be done about it....In my opinion, there seems to be a lot being done about it right now.  Rome wasn't built in a day and policy that may make major changes in this sport should made in thoughtful, deliberate manner not based on emotion.  If one feels that the risk involved in this sport is too much at this time because of lack of knowledge, lack of rules, etc. perhaps the solution would be to stop participating until one feels that it is safe.

Kim Fuess
AERC #6648