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Sobering Posts

Two excellent and very, very sobering posts today (Bucky and Warpaint).

One of the vets who spoke at the AERC conference two years ago
in Lexington described the kind of thing that happened to Bucky as
a ride vet's nightmare, too:   a horse that shows absolutely no sign
of distress until it is down and critical.  I wish I could remember her
name (I think she's based out of Kentucky and is with one of the
equine research establishments there), but she said that finding tools
to detect these cases before they manifest visibly is the edge of
the envelope in endurance veterinary science.  She was pursuing a
line of research that relied on blood chemistry samples taken during
the ride at vet stops to uncover developing problems.  I think most of
her research dealt with two telltale blood markers for tying up:  one
that rises as a tie up is occurring, and one that registers very high
for weeks after a tie up has occurred.  (The rider might not even have
been aware that a tie up had happened.)  Evidently it is now possible
to purchase portable blood chemistry analysis machines for under
20K  (the figure might have been less--memory fails) and she was
pushing for regional organizations to buy the machines and make
them available to vets at major rides.

I found the Warpaint story interesting on two counts.  It must have
been pure chaos on that trail with a 60 horse pile-up, where the
people at the ends who were most critical to unjamming the log
jam couldn't even see what was happening.

I wonder if certain very senior, experienced riders might not be
awarded the designation "emergency trail boss" or something.
They'd wear a special mark on their helmet or something.  Though
still a competitor, if a trail boss gives an order in what they judge to
be an emergency situation, other competitors just have to comply.
I don't know, it has never been easy to convince people whose minds
are set on one track that they've got to stop, shut-up, and listen
because something so serious that it overrides everything else has
come up.  It is scarey that it took a horse and rider falling off the
trail to finally penetrate peoples' consciousness.

Secondly, listening to Bucky's story combined with Nick's description
of the Appaloosa Warpaint's performance but his persistent 10 minute
recoveries despite having reached what is clearly a state of superb
condition reminds me of the debate that breaks out every now and
then about whether the sport isn't unfairly biased toward the Arab
recovery, when that recovery does not *necessarily* indicate a better
conditioned horse.  As a Morgan lover who doesn't want to switch
breeds, I mull on this.  No solutions.  Just a lot of mulling.

Linda B. Merims
Massachusetts, USA

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