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[RC] Safety Issue -- ride manager alert - Ridecamp Guest

Please Reply to: Edie Booth desertbred@xxxxxxxxxxx or ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx

I had prepared this email for Maria Wallis, ride manager for next months Texas 
night ride, the Moon Me, at the LBJ Grasslands.  Then I thought it is something 
for everybody to think about...

I just heard from Thomas on his way back from the Oklahoma night ride.  He was 
not exactly happy.  He was racing for the finish for first place on HADEED and 
ahead of the second place horse by 5 to 6 lengths. Ride management had set a 
truck up on the finish line with headlights across the road and people jumped 
up and shouted `Here they come!`  Thomas and HADEED had been across the line 
already twice with its marking being two glosticks on stakes at each side of 
the road and there was no problem, but management
changed it for the race to the finish. Hadeed startled and would not run out of 
the dark blindly into the blazing light and  `chaos`, so was 2nd.

By their actions,the ride management determined the winner of the ride.

I have personally had many experiences where  the horses racing at the finish 
of a 50 were distracted or alarmed and either slowed or went off trail 
(sometimes dangerously so), all due to lack of forsight by the person there to 
record the finish order, or by unforeseen obstacles (trucks being moved for 
folks to watch the finish, etc.)  The above example was apparently 
conscientious ride management attempting to be sure they could see who finished 
first etc.  What they did not realize was that they were xpecting
equine who were working with their good night vision to run out of the dark 
into the blazing light, as well as into the confusion of folks running around 
shouting "Here they come!"  The finish line had already been crossed twice with 
one sort of ircumstances and then was (in the horses' eye) completely changed, 
and not for the good for a belly to the ground horse race.

So ride management ---  please be sure that nothing is changed between the 
times that the horses cross the finish line, and keep people back from the 
finish.  If you feel light is needed, it should point *down* the trail in the 
direction that the horses are traveling, NOT across the trail or toward them.  
Blinding a
running horse is likely to cause a serious accident.  There have been people 
and equine severely injured at the finish in the past.  We like to race 
sometimes....  help us do it safely.  Try to imagine what it would be like for 
the horse running his hardest out of the dark, OR into whatever circumstances 
YOU set up for them.



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