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VT100 and over-riding

Hi - I was at the VT 100 and rode around with the vets. I can assure you
that these were a highly qualified and very dedicated group of vets who
were watching horses very carefully! There were also 6 of them, so by
the time the horses finished, the vet to horse ratio was about 1 to 2!
By the time the 100 milers finished, there was a vet for every horse. We
needed this high ratio, because a lot of horses had to be treated, but,
I also saw lots of riders who voluntarily pulled their horses because of
the heat, BEFORE they were in trouble. Heck, lots of riders pulled
because they were exhausted, even though their horses were fine.

In my opinion, what went on at this ride is no different from most rides
- some riders rode foolishly - it's just that the cost was higher and
the room for error smaller in this case. It's a shame that the runners
had to see this, but surely they must realize that we're not all like
this. The runners had stop stations every 3 miles, so they had lots of
chances to be checked, refueled, etc. The riders vet checks were about
every 15-20 miles, with only pit crew stops in between.With the weather
as it was, that left lots of time between checks for a horse to go
downhill metabolically. I'm new to endurance, but I wonder if they ever
mandate more frequent vet checks for rides when the weather conditions
are severe? This would seem to be a way to help prevent severe crashes
from happening.It seemed that most pit crews were focused on keeping the
horse going, not figuring out whether it was time to stop. It seems like
both riders and crew leave that decision up to the vets, maybe more
often than they should.

I can also assure you that the vets made every attempt to caution riders
who they thought were overdoing it, and get them to slow down. They were
not hesitant to pull a horse that they thought might be in trouble.
Management was not at fault, here. The finishing times were not an issue
- those who finished all finished well within time, and those who
finished toward the end were definitely not rushing to make a time. The
bulk of the riders finished with a few hours to spare, at least.

Rider responsibility was definitely encouraged, but it can't be forced
on anyone. I think that a lot of riders made the mistake of trying to
make time early in the morning when the heat wasn't so bad, not
realizing that the humidity was still a major factor, and blew their
horses out in the first 20 miles. There were four horses pulled at the
18 mile stop - 2 for tying up, 2 for lameness.

I think that the race/competition factor can sometimes bring out the
worst, even in the best riders. Ultimately, I don't think that what
happened at this ride was unusual. It was just more visible to the
public, because of the runners, and it just had more serious
consequences because of the weather conditions. I think a few folks may
have learned a very expensive lesson last weekend.


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