Home Current News News Archive Shop/Advertise Ridecamp Classified Events Learn/AERC
Endurance.Net Home Ridecamp Archives
[Archives Index]   [Date Index]   [Thread Index]   [Author Index]   [Subject Index]

Re: [RC] Fit to continue - Joe Long

terre wrote:
OK, now I think I finally understand you. This is partly a matter of semantics; we use the same words but we don't mean the same thing.

We seem to be getting closer, anyway.

If I DO understand you correctly, you take "fit to continue" to mean physically able to proceed down the trail--in which case I can see why you think the finish line is different, since the horse is not going to be doing that.

No, no, no. Fit to continue means that the horse is sound and metabolically stable enough to continue down the trail, without harm. At the finish he is not going to be doing that, but he still must be ABLE to do that to earn a completion.

I, OTOH, take "fit to continue" to mean meeting certain preset (veterinary) criteria. We (as an organization) have essentially agreed to accept these criteria as "accurately" reflecting the horse's physiological state. (I put "accurately" in quotes because we know that no indicator is an ABSOLUTE measure of the quantity it is measuring, only the best we can do under the circumstances. There are always exceptions. Again, if I understand you correctly, you appear to not believe that 'recovery' IS an accurate indicator. I think it IS; however I will concede that "pulse" may not always be an accurate indicator of "recovery'! It is, however, what we have available at this time.)
We're closer here. Recovery is an important indicator, but like most metabolic indicators it is not definitive in an of itself in most cases. Lameness is an indicator which is sufficient by itself to pull a horse.

With the exception of the safety parameter (the horse having to recover to the set criteria within 30 minutes of arrival at a vet check), and the need to recover by the end of the one-hour allowed for the final exam at the finish, these parameters are not absolutes but are guidelines for the vet to use in evaluating the whole horse. So unlike you I take "fit to continue" to be something that can only be determined by the vet applying his professional expertise following a complete exam.

To put it more simply, only the vet can tell if a horse is fit to continue -- no set of numbers can do it.

I think, therefore, that where we really differ is in what we think the PURPOSE of criteria (and in fact the vet check) is. You seem to be assuming that that purpose is to protect the horses from ignorant or abusive riders.
That's only part of it. The bigger part is to help riders evaluate their horses, and their pace, to help them complete rides safely. I don't see the vets as being in an adversarial relationship with riders, but as our partners in the effort.

I, OTOH, posit that the purpose of criteria (and in fact the vet check) is to separate the superior athletes from the average ones (since we all agree that ignorant or abusive riders are 'rare'--and are always somebody else!).
Here I completely disagree. That is what the trail is for. IMO we don't use gates into holds to help the fitter horse win, although it has that effect. We do it to better protect the horses from improper pacing (whether due to abusive riders or simple rider error). The gates do separate a horse who is running beyond his means to keep up with his buddies, from his fitter buddies, but again that is for his safety, not to help the buddies win the ride. It is not the purpose of vet checks to allow the fitter horses to get a lead -- they are for safety. If we weren't concerned about horse safety we wouldn't have vet checks.

These criteria INCIDENTALLY identify horses that may be in trouble (working beyond their ability on that day), but it is not their purpose (and is why we are now using the term "control judge" rather than vet).
You are partly right. The purpose of vet checks is first and foremost to PREVENT horses from getting into trouble, and secondarily to identify those that do (or are on the brink) and preventing them from being further stressed -- and getting them quick treatment when necessary. BTW, I hate the term "control judge." We are not a judged sport, our vets are there to help us keep our horses safe, not pick winners.

Riders use these criteria to strategize their ride; if you read the story on the AERC Natl Champ 100 winner, she almost entirely passed the competition by out-recovering them--and she did it deliberately.
Absolutely, I use the gates to my advantage all the time. Most competitive riders do. I will push the pace into a vet check if I believe I can out-recover the other riders and get a lead on them. In doing so I am taking advantage of a system whose purpose is safety, but whose existence presents the opportunity to use these strategies. If the AERC goes to 30-minute recovery at the finish, that will give me another tool to use when racing the last leg.

If you believe that to be the case, then the finish line SHOULD be identical with mid-ride and for the same reason; to reward the superior athlete and discourage the over-riding of the average one.
The need to be fit to continue discourages over-riding. But no criteria or exam following the finish line should affect placing, or "reward the superior athlete," IMO. The place to do that was on the trail.

-- Joe Long aka ChipRider jlong@xxxxxxxxxxxxx


Ridecamp is a service of Endurance Net, http://www.endurance.net.
Information, Policy, Disclaimer: http://www.endurance.net/Ridecamp
Subscribe/Unsubscribe http://www.endurance.net/ridecamp/logon.asp

Ride Long and Ride Safe!!


[RC] Fit to continue, tobytrot
Re: [RC] Fit to continue, Joe Long