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[RC] VET Net denounces Mongol Derby - Lynne Glazer

VET Net denounces Mongol Derby. Urges race closed on ethical grounds

Begin forwarded message:

From: "The Long Riders' Guild" <basha@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: July 11, 2009 6:00:12 PM PDT
Subject: BREAKING NEWS - VET Net denounces Mongol Derby. Urges race closed on ethical grounds.

Dear Long Riders, Explorers and Friends of the Guild,

The last fortnight has seen an extraordinary outpouring of concern from horse lovers, explorers and Long Riders around the planet, all of whom have added their voices to a collective cry aimed at stopping the so-called Mongol Derby. Here is a link which will provide you with the latest news about this ill-conceived and perilous plan, including details of how one high profile contestant has withdrawn from the race, a possible connection between race organizers and the US government, as well as forums, news stories and blogs, all of whom are monitoring these events around the world.

Yet the most astonishing news was revealed earlier today.

For the last two weeks Tom Morgan, and his tour company the Adventurists, have been busy telling the world that all equine health concerns were being overseen by the reputable NGO, VET Net. This claim was also published and promoted by Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon and by the Horse & Hound magazine in London.

In an exclusive interview with the Long Riders Guild, an official VET Net spokesman confirms that their organization is not involved, that they were not aware that their name was being used to promote the race, that they consider the race a threat to the small native horses and disrespectful of Mongolia's equestrian heritage. The official concludes by joining the Long Riders' Guild in urging the Mongolian government to halt the race immediately.

VET Net and the Mongol Derby

The following interview was held between Dr. Thomas Juergens DVM and officials of the Long Riders' Guild on July 11, 2009. Dr. Juergens is an American equine practitioner and advisor to VET Net, the Mongolian NGO which has been linked to the Mongol Derby. According to documents released on July 1, 2009 by Tom Morgan, and his English tour company, the Adventurists, stated that the renowned Mongolian veterinarian training program, VET Net, was associated with providing equine medical assistance during the race.

"We are working with an American veterinary NGO based in Mongolia called Vet Net," Morgan's press release declared.

In an effort to placate irate donors, PR representatives of the Portland based charity, Mercy Corps, also circulated VET Net's name so as to offset public anger. According to Dr. Juergens, officers of the highly respected medical organization were not even aware that their organization was being linked to the race, nor do they support it in any way. In fact, VET Net's spokesman has denounced the event .

How long has VET Net been working in Mongolia and what are some of the many achievements your organization has achieved there?
VET Net is the leading source of veterinary continuing education in Mongolia. The NGO was formed by Dr. Gerald Mitchum, who has spent the last seventeen years overseeing the training of hundreds of Mongolian veterinarians in modern veterinary medicine.

What are your personal connections with Mongolia?
I've spent the last ten summers there, educating remote veterinarians on how to become better veterinarians, practicing modern equine veterinary medicine..

What effect will this race have on your personal efforts, as well as VET Net's, to further veterinarian education among the Mongols?
This race negates everything we've been teaching the Mongolian people and veterinarians for the last ten years because here we have the concern of foreigners racing horses to death. Have you ever seen a horse raced to death? It's horrific.

According to a document Morgan released last week, he claims, "Horse welfare has been at the top of the agenda since ... early 2008." When did VET Net officials first learn about Morgan's Mongol Derby and did your organization offer to lend your medical expertise to this event?
I think VET Net was contacted in either January or February of 2009. It is my understanding that they wanted us to supply all the veterinarians and oversee the medical needs throughout the entire race. But it is also my understanding that VETNET is not involved with providing veterinary care to the horses in this race.

Were you aware that Morgan and Mercy Corps had specifically named VET Net as being in charge of the equine medical care of the 800 Mongolian horses to be used in the non-sanctioned race?
I was surprised to be told that our organization had been named as being part of this race.

Upon learning that Morgan had misinformed the public about VET Net's role in the race, did your organization contact the Adventurists and order them to cease using your organization's name?
One of the other advisors immediately fired off emails asking that VET Net not be linked to this event.

Do the officials in charge of VET Net have concerns regarding the potential damage Morgan's race may inflict upon the horses, the herders and the equestrian heritage of Mongolia?
Absolutely ! This event is being done in total disregard to the welfare of the horses and it shows no respect for the nation's equestrian traditions either. It's as if they think these horses are rental cars. Because the contestants don't own the horses, they'll think they can ride them hard, then just walk away. There's no sense of personal accountability. What I see instead is disrespect for the horses and Mongolian traditions.

The race organizers in England have attempted to sooth public concerns by saying that they will be providing vehicles to drive local vets along the route of the race, so as to ensure proper equine safety standards are maintained. What are your feelings about that?
Just because the remote Mongolian veterinarians have studied modern veterinary medicine for six weeks with VET Net doesn't mean they are qualified to act as attending veterinarians for the critical health needs of the horses competing in this race. Normally the horse's pulse, respiration, soundness and hydration are all checked at required stops by qualified veterinarians during a normal endurance race. This race is absolutely different. And saying that the individual horses are "only" going to be raced for forty kilometres is just showing disrespect. You have to worry about the horses - and the riders. I can't see any good coming from this race.

Do you, as an advisor to VET Net, believe it is in the best interest of Mongolia for Mongolian officials to order this event to be halted?
Yes, because there are ethical, moral and humanitarian concerns which do not seem to have been met at this time. If the race organizers wanted to put on such an event, they should have spent more than six months organizing the logistics of quality veterinary care for the horses. But they haven't even proved that they can provide adequate veterinarian care for the horses.


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