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Re: [RC] the sport? - Joe Long

On Wed, 22 Oct 2003 10:47:14 -0400, "Howard Bramhall"
<howard9732@xxxxxxx> wrote:

I really feel that if the membership does not get behind this things will 
remain the same; 7 deaths per year at our rides and a large number of severe 
metabolic incidents where treatment was required to save the life of the 
horse.  Please, really, down deep in the pit of your heart, the center of your 
soul, try and put the horse ahead of what your personal goals in our sport 
are.  Mentally, ask yourself what you would do to make our sport the best, 
instead of one of the worst, places for a horse to compete and for you to 

In a word ... BULLSHIT!!!!

It is overblown and fatuous rhetoric and arm-waving like this that
contributes nothing to better horse safety, but is just ignorant and

1)  Make 60 the standard beats per minute of the horse's heart-rate across the 
board.  Consider reducing it to 56.

Pretty common already.

2)  Make the maximum distance a horse can travel between vet checks 15 miles.  
No longer.  And, actually, make sure via an independent source that the miles 
listed by the ride manager between loops is accurate.  

Easy to say, not so easy to do.  Rides are often at the mercy of their
trails.  Would you rather see a ride not happen because they needed an
18-mile loop (due to inaccessibility), and they couldn't meet this

There are good reasons for independently verifying the length of all
endurance trails (as is required for sanctioned Marathons, for
example).  One of the things I dislike at a ride is to set out on a
loop thinking I'm going 15 miles only to have it be 10, or 20.  But
given the difficulty of measuring trails, and the expense of paying
some official to do it, I don't expect this to come to endurance
anytime soon.

Before we adopt any restrictions like this, we need to do a
dispassionate and well-reasoned cost-benefit analysis to see if it
will really do more good than harm.

3)  Have a prerequisite for entering 100 mile rides.  I suggest 300 miles of 
50's before a horse is allowed to do it's first 100 miler.

I take it you're assuming that more horses get in trouble on 100 mile
rides, and that it is first-time 100-mile horses that get into trouble
most.  I believe it's the opposite.  Do you have any statistics to
support your call for a rule like this?

4)  Longer hold times at the vet checks; 45 minutes minimum and 1 hour at the 
half way mark.  I also suggest we use 11 hours of ride time (does not include 
hold time) for the 50 milers and 22 hours of ride time for the 100 milers as 
the time limit to obtain a completion.  That way, if the Ride Vet wants to add 
more time at the holds it won't affect the rider's available "ride time" on 
the trail.  

I used to favor shorter hold times, but I've come to see the wisdom in
longer hold times.  However, I see even greater wisdom in allowing the
RM and ride vets to make the determination of the hold times
appropriate to their trail and weather conditions.

There is a good reason for including the hold times in the 12 hours
per 50 miles:  it is part of what we have found to be a good test, a
meaningful challenge.  There was a time when there were some 50's that
allowed 24 hours to complete.  Some people always want to make the
challenge easier.

5)  All AERC vets most hold a license.  It doesn't have to be a license in a 
state where the ride is held, but, it does have to be a license in one of the 
50 available.  No unlicensed vets at any AERC rides.


6)  Log books on horses similar to what they're doing in Australia.  It holds 
the rider accountable (they are) and makes our record keeping more accurate.  
And, it will save the life of a horse or two along the way.

7)  The Education Committee needs to explain distance traveling while going to 
a ride and returning home.  I know that Stagg has written an article where 
this topic was mentioned, and it was a good one, but, this needs to be 
re-emphasized time and time again.  We must make sure every rider knows that 
the distance traveled to a ride along with the distance traveled back home 
increases the danger of a horse getting into trouble during an endurance 
event. It is part of the event! If a rider travels out of region to a ride I 
think we should require them to keep a log book of their travel to the ride.  
Not for punishment, but, for educational purposes.  This form is turned into 
the Ride Manager prior to the manager accepting their entry.

Good, except for the travel log.  That is totally unenforceable -- are
you going to go and check to be sure they really left home on the 17th
and not the 18th?

How far you can safely travel each day also varies a LOT, according to
many variables.  Who is going to judge if the rider took enough time
or not?  Are you going to want yet another rule, no more than X miles
per day going to a ride?

If we ever want to get serious about this (and, yes, it really is happening; 
it's not some sort of illusion) we need to take action and make some changes.  
And, this will help to eliminate all those bad apples from the sport I keep 
hearing of.  But, the only way it will happen is for ya'll to make it happen.  
Otherwise, it's just words, and I got plenty of those.  It really is time for 
some action.

It's easy to criticize, and it's easy to come up with panacea
"solutions."  A little experience and historical perspective can help
avoid suggesting things that were tried years ago and found wanting,
of course.

And, one more time:  the sky is not falling.  Yes, we have had a
problem with horse injuries and deaths since the first rides, and we
have been earnestly working to minimize horse injuries and deaths at
least as long as the AERC has been around.  However, endurance riding
has a RECORD of horse care, low injury rate and longevity of its
participants that no other equine sport can match.  We can and should
take a great deal of pride in that, while continuing to make our
record better still in the future.


Joe Long


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[RC] the sport?, terre
Re: [RC] the sport?, Howard Bramhall