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volunteers view

Hi - I've spent this entire ride season volunteering at rides (both
endurance and CTR) because I was temporarily without a competition-ready
horse, and this has been very educational. I'd like to share some of the
things I learned, so that they might help other aspiring distance

1. Ride managers and vets/judges work very hard, maybe even harder than
you do out there on the trail. Looking at all those horses is exhausting
work, and most are tired, hungry, and losing patience by day's end. If
you feel tempted to complain, use your evaluation form or contact them
after the ride.

2. If your horse doesn't stand for examination, most vets/judges will be
very patient with this, having probably been there themselves, but, by
all means, figure out how to correct it next time. I saw judges at both
CTR and Endurance rides getting pretty annoyed at riders who's horses
habitually run them over in examination, year after year.

3. Teach your horse to trot out quietly, on a loose lead, and do large
circles, or your horse may look lame, even if he isn't.

4. There are lots of poorly shod feet out there. I was amazed at the
amount of  feet I saw this year that had long toes, low-heels, or were
seriously overdue for a trim. Many of these horses were being ridden by
novice riders. I would strongly recommend Nancy Loving's "Go the
Distance" book to anyone who isn't quite sure how a distance horse
should be shod. There is a great chapter on shoeing/foot care.

5. Don't leave your horse in camp after a ride and go somewhere without
telling the vets where you are. At a very tough 50 mile endurance I
recorded for, three riders with horses in questionable condition went
out to dinner or somewhere to sleep, and didn't leave word as to their
whereabouts. All three horses had to be treated later on, and it was
thanks to the vets who took it upon themselves to be vigilant and check
on these horses. The owners were irate at having to pay the vet bills
for unauthorized treatments, and the vets were irate because the owners
couldn't be found. The vets had some choice words for these folks, and
their attitudes about their horses, and I don't blame them.

6. If you pull from the ride, tell ride staff IMMEDIATELY upon getting
into the hold or into camp. At an endurance ride, we waited hours for a
rider to come in, who had self-pulled, gone back to camp, and loaded the
horse and went home. Nobody knew. This is in really bad form, even if it
is 95 degrees and humid.

7. And this is for the ride managers - if at all possible, get
walkie-talkies, cell phones, CB radios or something so that staff at
various check points can communicate with each other. I saw a lot of
time wasted driving around from check to check, trying to get
information or pass messages to staff further down the trail. There has
to be a better way.

Happy riding to everyone!

Chelle Sherman

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