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RE: [RC] LD/BC - heidi

 I think I finally see where we have been miscommunicating regarding the 
LD/BC procedure. Once the horses involved have all crossed the finish 
line safely and met their post-ride criteria without complication, and 
proper placings have been assigned to the properly prepared horses who 
were able to go fast enough to be considered for BC without undue 
stress, the vet assessment procedure for that particular sub-group of 
horses is fine. I think we can agree on that.

Yep, so far so good.

  Let's back up a step. Forget about the finish line and everything that 
comes after that. Let's go out on the trail where there may be a novice 
rider and unprepared horse who, together, are taking the trail at a pace 
well beyond their ability to do so safely. Maybe the horse is fired up, 
maybe the rider is simply allowing himself to be swept along with the 
fast pace of the lead horses, or maybe he heard about a BC award that is 
given, but you have to be a front runner to be considered for it. Either 
way, the horse is going too fast and at risk, and the rider is clueless 
due to his inexperience. A properly executed BC evaluation at the finish 
line can't protect that horse or undo whatever negative metabolic event 
or lameness that might ensue. In other words, the potential problem is 
out on the 25-35 miles of trail, not at the vet inspection, as far as 
the health and safety of the unprepared horse is concerned.The criticism 
of the LD/BC I think boils down to this question, and I would appreciate 
hearing your response to it specifically-- " Since ride time (speed) is 
a factor in BC, how do we prevent the newbie rider from inadvertantly 
going too fast in pursuit of a chance at BC that they by definition 
cannot safely do because of their unpreparedness without changing the 
speed component of the BC evaluation?"

Bruce, let me answer a question with a question.  How can we prevent a
newbie from doing all of those things and having problems on the trail
anyway?  Once in awhile it happens.  And furthermore, it happens
whether rides offer LD BCs or not.  To try to put blame on the BC award
for the occasional over-enthusiastic newbie is the same sort of logic as
not wanting to kill the rooster for fear that will make the sun not come
up in the morning.

Let's back up one more step.  Sometime in the mid-to-late 80s, AERC
formed the LD concept.  Prior to that time, we were ALREADY running
"short" rides in PNER in conjunction with sanctioned AERC rides.  And
we awarded the equivalent of AERC BC on those "short" rides, even
though it didn't count for AERC.  Our RMs would either save up unused
AERC BC forms from past years, or would photocopy the forms for us to
fill out when we judged BC for the "short" rides.  Not once in nearly a
quarter of a century have I EVER heard a rider say, "I've got to go
fast, so I can get BC."  I've heard them say that about first
place--but NOT about BC.  And if they are unprepared and try to do it
for the win, they don't get the win because their horses don't pulse
down before the horses of the other riders who came across the line
right behind them.  AERC has done a good job of addressing that problem
with the pulse-to-finish criterion for LDs.  Nor has there been any
indication that riders ride faster in general to try to achieve the
award.  It is impossible to prove a negative.  But experience has shown
not only in our region but in several others that the scenario you
describe just doesn't happen.

So let's move forward again.  Let's look at the very real POSITIVE
benefits of offering an AERC LD BC.  What we DO see fairly often is
novice riders who are totally unaware of their placing and who Top Ten
"by accident."  (Heck, I'm not a novice by a long stretch, but my
junior and I "accidentally" Top Tenned at her first LD ride--we weren't
riding for Top Ten and we weren't going all that fast, so I sure wasn't
keeping track of where other riders were--and my jaw dropped about a
foot when the timer told us to go weigh after we pulsed down!  Being
"experienced" all I knew was that we were riding a pace that sure
wouldn't have Top Tenned the 50!))  By standing for BC and getting the
feedback that occurs by doing so (provided you have vets who will GIVE
feedback--we are fortunate that most here in the NW will do so), they
get a handle on whether or not they have pushed their horse to go the
speed they did.  It is a good barometer of whether they can say, "Yeah,
I did my homework and my horse did great," or "Golly, there is some
stuff here I need to work on!"  Additionally, they get extra practice
in presenting their horses, as well as an additional thorough
going-over beyond just a completion exam--which is a good thing for
those horses that went just a little bit faster than the others.

Bottom line, Bruce--the "negatives" here are imaginary.  LD rides all
over the country are giving AERC LD BC awards and are not seeing any of
the doom and gloom that has been predicted.  It is real.  It is
happening.  And the negatives have not occurred.  But the positives are
tangible and real.  They are demonstrated at ride after ride.  

BC by its very nature is an award that is almost impossible to "push"
for--and even moreso on the LD rides than on endurance rides, since the
time factor is less.  If you push, there will be SOMEBODY who didn't who
will beat you for it.



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