Any one care to discuss this??
There has been a lot of discussion lately about vet scores at
endurance rides and whether a horse gor an "A" on their vet card or
not. Apparently many current endurance riders are not aware of why
we have veterinarians at endurance rides. They are not there to
treat your horse if you make a mistake. Nor is the Vet Card a
report card on how well you ride.
Long distance cross-country rides, of the "ride them until they
drop" variety were once held in some parts of the United States.
In the early 1930's the Justin Boot Company offered prize money to
the first horses who made the ride from Nacona, Texas to Oakland,
California. Entrants, mostly cowboys, would buy a horse in Texas,
ride it to Oakland and participate in the rodeo that culminated the
ride. They then sold the horse as broke!
Other distance rides also drew competitors who rode hard and fast
for a money prize. Some of these had horses dying along the route
or after the ride, this gave endurance or long distance riding a
bad name. To overcome this adverse publicity the American
Endurance Ride Conference set up its rules with equine
veterinarians in complete charge of the horses.
In the 1980's as the sport grew, the AERC board felt that just
veterinarian control until completing was not protecting the
animals. At some rides there were many horses being medicated
after they crossed the finish line. The pulse recovery criteria,
along with the the fit to continue on rule, was added to prevent
the over riding of horses. The fit to continue, may be interpreted
differently by ride veterinarians. Some are very strict on
lameness others feel that lameness is far less important than
metabolic stress often indicated by a high pulse.
Furthermore, the animal rights organizations are still active. Our
AERC sanctioned endurance rides have a great reputation. Horses
are ridden thousands of miles each year, they keep going and going
compared to flat track racing where most horses are "out to
pasture" when endurance horses are in their prime.
If YOU plan to win or Top Ten the ride without taking into
consideration your mount's physical and mental manner on that
particular day, you could injure or destroy your horse. It is
important to know your horse, whether it is having a good or bad
day. Call it ESP, gut feelings or whatever most riders sense when
the horse feels great. Pulse rate and fast recovery is very
important but it is not the only indicator of your horses physical
condition. Some people who ride with heart rate meters rely on its
data more than having knowledge about horses and how they react to
work. Others rely mainly on high scores at a vet check. Yes,
getting all "A"'s is splendid. But do YOU understand why the
horse's condition was good and can you sense when it slips to
"C"'s? What will you do when you are at a ride where the vet only
marks "OK" on your card? Will you know in your own mind if the
horse is an A, B, or C grade???
Learn more about the physiology of equine exercise, check your
horse after a tough training ride. Ask the ride vets their opinion
of your horses's condition when you vet in. I just rode fifty (50)
miles for three (3) consecutive days on a 7 year old Arab mare. She
had done one tough 50 as a 5 year old and three in two months when
6 years old. I did not know whether she was ready for harder
riding. I picked a multi-day ride in mountain country. She had a
riding time each day of about 5 hours. She was also 4th each day,
the only sign of over wear was in her shoes. I had a great time,
saw new country and made the correct decision on pace. I don't use
a heart rate meter in competition. My mount was eager to go, all
systems were working. I didn't get a report card just an O.K at
the vet check and the feeling from the mare that all systems were
I recommend that you listen to your horse as well as the ride
Morris Endurance Enterprises