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Endurance News -- June 2016

President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Veterinary Forum
Ride Managers' Forum
Trails Post
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: Endurance lessons from our mothers and fathers

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

We just honored our mothers, and Father's Day is this month. In addition to our very lives, I'm sure each of us could provide lengthy lists of the things we have learned from each of our parents. But mothers and fathers teach very different things, in most cases. Many of those lessons serve us well in the sport of endurance riding.

With horses, the genes for physical characteristics are pretty evenly split between dam and sire. But behavioral characteristics are most commonly learned from the dam. If the dam is a dominant mare, her offspring tend to be dominant. If the mare is timid, so often are her colts and fillies.

Among people, we tend to learn about relationships from our mothers. Women tend to be more aware of the status of relationships than men. My mother knew what I was up to, often before I had the chance to fully determine my course of mischief. My mother was more aware of my mood, as a teen, than I was (and my wife is, too). My dad usually didn't have a clue until my mom told him.

There are good, physiological reasons for this. For example, in the parts of the brain most associated with emotion, you readers with XX chromosomes have about 10,000 times more neural connections (synapses) than those of us with XY chromosomes. No, this doesn't make women more emotional, just better able to discriminate the finer details of emotional reactions and relationships.

So, most women riders are better able to detect attitudinal variations of their horses. They are more sensitive to the subtle, behavioral signals their horses send to indicate distress, alarm, annoyance, etc. Not that we men can't learn to recognize these signals. We can. But it doesn't come as easily and naturally to men as it does to women.

Man or woman, the better our mothers were at recognizing subtle social cues, the better we can learn to do so. Thanks, Mom, and my horses thank you, too.

Have you ever noticed how guys get to working on something and can't stop? I remember my dad teaching me how to repair something on the car. Mom would yell for us to come in for supper and Dad would tell her, "Just a minute, I just want to get this one thing done." And we might be out there working for another hour or two. When men get focused on something, it's hard to stop. They are so single-minded that nothing is allowed to disrupt the task at hand. This is very frustrating for women -- until they notice that the air conditioner in the car is now working.

It's the same when working with/training horses. I can't stand to stop until I get the response I want. So, my horse learns that I'll keep riding past that mailbox until he can do it without a spook or that we will keep riding up to the gate until he stands still while I work the latch. The horse learns that the guy is not going to quit until he gets what he wants, so you might as well give it to him and get it over with so you can let him groom and feed you. If you are good at getting your horse to respond consistently to your cues, you may have learned that persistence from your father. Thanks, Dad.

We may get our endurance from our moms. Some years ago, I worked on a military project evaluating the differences between men and women for certain jobs. On average, men had slightly faster reaction times than women, but women could attend to complex, repetitive tasks much longer than men. Like endurance riding -- a complex, repetitive task. When I'm riding, I focus on the trail and the horse, the footing, ribbons and how my horse is managing the ride. I don't talk a lot, and I forget to smile for the camera.

My female companions handle those items plus carry on complex conversations with the other riders. They don't seem to get tired and grouchy or inattentive as quickly as I do. This may help explain why women are so dominant in endurance riding. Thanks, again, Mom.

Parental love is sometimes described as conditional love by fathers and unconditional love by mothers. We often think of our horses as our children (and, indeed, they typically have the emotional maturity and attention span of a 5-year-old). We may love them unconditionally, but we place strict conditions for approval on what behavior is acceptable or not.

As we mature through adulthood and have our own children (and horses), it becomes easier with each passing year to recognize and appreciate the attitudinal gifts and character that we learned from our parents, some from Mom and some from Dad. We will pass these gifts on to our children and grandchildren.

Perhaps the greatest of these gifts is patience: a combination of Dad's conditional persistence and Mom's unconditional endurance. The application of this quality is one of the things that makes endurance riders unique and distinctive among athletes and equestrians throughout the world. Endurance riders ride, correct and adjust to changing conditions over long distances and over hours, more so than almost any other endeavor. We should be grateful to our parents for giving us the physical and attitudinal abilities to ride as we do.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Vice President's Message: We're all trail ambassadors

by Lisa Schneider

Every time we ride in a public place, we are representing the sport of endurance riding to everyone who is watching. These days, there are so many people who are unfamiliar with animals in general, and horses specifically. It is a sad social commentary on the prevalence of city life.

I am continually amazed by the number of people I encounter on the trail who have never stood near a horse, let alone touched one. A common reaction to being close to a horse is fear. Maybe because most horses are so much bigger than people, or maybe because they can move so quickly, horses can elicit feelings of fear, danger, and anxiety.

In the multi-use park where I most often ride, we frequently see hikers, runners, bicyclists, and even the occasional unicyclist. Dogs, children, baby strollers, film crews, painters with easels . . . the park gets a huge variety of visitors.

Any time I get a new horse, the desensitization process must start immediately because on a busy weekend, the sights can be overwhelming and I want to be safe for my riding buddies and anyone near me.

When I run into people while I'm riding, I try to make everyone's experience a positive one. Recently, there was a group of about 25 hikers with tall walking sticks from the Sierra Club. Some of the hikers recognized our horses as Arabians, and had lots of questions about our tack. They wanted to know if our saddles were western or English and loved the idea of a comfortable fleece saddle cover.

Others in that same group had never seen a horse up close. One couple was obviously not very familiar with horses and wanted to know if they bite and what they eat. My horse obliged her curiosity by munching on some green grass at her feet. (He was in a good mood that day and didn't even try to bite them.)

It's easy to get caught up in a fun ride and not want to slow down, let alone stop, for people who might be curious or even afraid. I feel it is important to make the time because it's sad if people are afraid of horses simply because they haven't had the opportunity to experience them up close.

Getting to pet a horse is an experience they won't forget and clearly makes their day. Children especially get a rush out of being brave enough to pet a horse, even if they are being held in a parent's arms to get close enough.

We've met many interesting people from every continent. It's funny how horses can overcome the language barrier, and everyone loves photos with them. Pictures of our horses must be on refrigerators all around the world by now.

The long-distance runners seem to understand endurance better than most other groups. They relate to being out in nature for many hours and also enjoy exploring places off the beaten path. We've recruited several runners to come ride with us and their athleticism serves them well in the saddle.

We have several local endurance riders who are mounted patrol volunteers in the national park. They go through a significant amount of training, including first aid and dealing with lost people, loud noises, and obstacles. Sounds like a ride manager, right?!

One longtime patrol volunteer, Nina Bomar, had this to say about being a trail ambassador: "The horses are the ambassadors to the people. They touch both the children and the adults in a way that humans are incapable of. The park visitors marvel at our horses and for many it's their first time having the opportunity to be up close and to pet a horse. Their responses are astounding and their admiration of our horses is heartwarming.

"We strive to make a presence in the park, to be helpful, to assist visitors in need and to ask others to kindly obey park rules. Our horses help to give us a presence and they are truly admired by most all park visitors."

Any time you have the chance to be a trail ambassador, please consider doing so. The experience could change someone's life. Happy trails!

Understanding the AERC Drug Rule

by Melissa Ribley, DVM

It is regrettable and true that violations of the AERC Drug Rule can and do result from failure of owners, riders and their veterinarians to familiarize themselves with the rule, it appendices, and how they are to be used. This article is written to help you avoid inadvertent violations.

The purpose of this article is to help accommodate legitimate therapy, to clarify what is a prohibited substance, and to help avoid accidental exposure to medications, all with the goal of competing in compliance with the requirements of AERC Rule 13.

First off, what is a prohibited substance in AERC competition? The AERC drug rule starts with the general rule that any substance in Appendix A found in any amount is prohibited, period. However, because laboratories have developed testing techniques allowing them to test for trace levels of substances, AERC has listed exceptions to this general rule that are provided in Appendix D.

Appendix D lists thresholds at which concentrations of a detected substance found below this threshold have been scientifically found to be pharmacologically insignificant. In other words, concentrations of a substance found below the listed threshold would not be physiologically influencing the horse nor affecting its performance and would not be in violation of the drug rule.

In looking at Appendix D, you will note that thresholds are not available for every therapeutic medication. Thresholds are continually being researched and developed by various testing agencies and organizations and as these become available will be added to the AERC appendix. These pharmacokinetic studies take time, work and funding. The AERC drug testing funds, which consists of fees collected from riders with each AERC ride entry, are mainly used for actual drug testing.

However, it may be time for AERC and its members to consider using some of these reserve funds for research and studies related to increasing our list of known thresholds. This has become increasingly important as testing laboratories continue to refine and develop testing methodologies allowing them to test substances down to very low concentrations.

In looking at Appendix D, you will also note that we have thresholds for some substances in serum and not urine, and vice versa for other substances. It is possible, in appropriate circumstances where there is documented, reliable scientific evidence, to allow for an extrapolation from the blood concentration detected to a urine concentration and vice versa so that a detected concentration can be compared to the listed threshold.

Detection and withdrawal times

Secondly, what are detection times and what are withdrawal times and how how are they different? A detection time is the amount of time a substance can be detected in either blood or urine post-administration, and these times are listed as detection times for some substances in Appendix E.

Withdrawal times can vary based on the individual drug metabolism of each horse, route of administration and length of time of administration.

The drug detection time is based on small studies done with very few numbers of horses. As there is inherent variability in how a drug will deplete from any individual horse, the detection time is not a recommended withdrawal time. It should be stressed that a detection time is only a raw experimental observation, while a withdrawal time is a recommendation and, as such, is a matter for professional judgement of a veterinarian.

The withdrawal time should be longer than the detection time because the withdrawal time should take into account the impact of all sources of animal variability (e.g., age, sex, breed, training). When treating competitive horses, a veterinarian will consider the published detection times and the sport organization's rules as well as his/her knowledge of the particular horse's physiology to advise a competitor on an appropriate drug withdrawal period prior to a competition.

Detection times are not known for all substances, but our knowledge is increasing as more studies and research are being done on therapeutic substances. This again may be good use for AERC reserve drug testing funds. It cannot be stressed enough that detection times are not withdrawal times and withdrawal times can vary based on the individual drug metabolism of each horse, route of administration and length of time of administration.

The detection times listed in the AERC Drug Rule Appendix E do not guarantee nor provide an assurance that the use of any of the medications at the dosage listed will not result in a positive test. AERC cannot be responsible for results differing in any way from the data listed. It is important to remember that the rider and/or owner (the person responsible) is ultimately responsible for affirming that a horse is free from any prohibited substance listed during AERC competition. Here are a couple of examples where the suggested detection times may be inaccurate:

1. Prolonged NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as bute or Banamine) detection times have resulted from contaminated feed and water buckets and ingestion of contaminated bedding from the stall, especially with oral medications. Whenever possible, avoid oral medications and if necessary to use them, pay particular attention to potential contamination of the stall.

2. Firocoxib (Previcox, Equioxx) is a commonly used therapeutic agent in the horse and is often used long-term, sometimes for months. Due to the drug's ability to bio-accumulate, the detection time is quite long and it is very difficult to determine a sufficient withdrawal time when the drug is administered longer than the label recommendation.

AERC has received positive drug test results for firocoxib and expects this may continue due to the increase in the drug's therapeutic use and its lengthy detection time when used for extended periods of time.

Horse health vs. competition

Rule 13 in part reads, "No equine in which a Prohibited Substance or its metabolite is present shall compete in an endurance ride, regardless of when the Prohibited Substance was administered to it."

When in doubt, it may be in your best interest not to attend a ride when medications have been administered where drug detection guidelines are lacking and your veterinarian is unable to help you with an appropriate withdrawal recommendation. The health of the horse should always come before the importance of competition, and it is essential to consider whether it is in the best interest of the horse to compete if he requires medication.

Avoiding unintended exposure

Lastly, how can unintended exposure to medications be avoided? Riders administering a so-called herbal or natural product, having been comforted by claims that the plant origin of its ingredients cause it to be permitted by the rules, as well as undetectable by drug tests, may be misled. The use of so-called herbal and natural products in a horse might result in a positive drug test, contrary to claims by those who manufacture and or market such products for profit.

The plant origin of any ingredient does not preclude its containing a pharmacologically potent and readily detectable prohibited substance. Cocaine, heroin and marijuana all come from plants.

One should be cautious in using herbal and natural products, the ingredients and properties of which are not known. In this regard, riders should be skeptical about claims by manufacturers that their preparation is "legal" or permissible for use at competitions.

Equally as important, riders should be aware that the labeling of ingredients for products such as nutraceuticals and nutritional supplements that are not regulated by the FDA, are often not complete or accurate. The bottom line is: do not feed or administer anything to your horse that you do not know precisely what you are actually putting in your horse anytime near the time of competition.

Additionally, in scheduling your rides in conjunction with the ongoing care of your horse, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian, farrier and anyone else involved in the care of your horse the fact that you may soon be competing in an endurance ride. This should stimulate a review of the drug rule appendices and a discussion of what is appropriate to administer when to your horse.

The purpose of the AERC rule against the use of Prohibited Substances in horses during endurance rides is both to protect the horses from harm and to ensure fair competition. The spirit of endurance riding and our drug rule is such that endurance horses should compete under their natural abilities without the influence of medications. By taking a bit of time to read and understand AERC Rule 13 and its appendices, we can all combine good medical care of our horses while at the same time abiding to the rules that govern our sport.

Rule 13 and its appendices can be found on the AERC website under the Rules and Regulations tab, or you may request a copy be mailed to you from the AERC office.

Melissa Ribley, DVM, is co-chair of the AERC Veterinary Committee's Drug Testing Subcommittee.

Ride Manager's Forum: California, here I come

by Laura Horst

That is what four teenage endurance riders from Australia will be singing this October.

They will be the second group of riders coming to the States as part of the junior rider exchange program initiated last year in Indiana. Connie Caudill organized that first group of junior riders by providing a ride venue, arranging for loaned horses for the guests, accommodations, hospitality, and finding four of our own U.S. juniors as "buddies" to the Australian juniors.

The second half of that exchange will be occurring this summer when the four U.S. juniors will be heading to Australia to be treated to the same generous hospitality by their new international friends.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

I have begun the ball rolling for a second "wave" of students -- this year coming to a California ride. We have chosen a fantastic ride for these young riders to participate in: the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Ride in Magalia, California. This year it will be held October 22 and 23.

The ride is held in a lovely area, with great, well-marked trails, small-town friendliness, the best snacks at the vet checks, and a superb base camp at the Meadowbrook Ranch. An earlier owner of the ranch is a Tevis buckle holder and there are old Cougar Rock pictures in the antique barn.

One of the great attractions is the lake at base camp; ideal for a swim with your horse after your ride to cool off and get clean. I learned how to "ski" behind my horse when I was there: Get out deep in the lake, turn his head toward shore, then hold on to his tail as he swims back in.

But the lake isn't the only place to cool off. The ride's trail passes a deep hole in the river, a good place for an equine drink. Pair a deep hole in a river with trees on the bank and a rope always ends up tied to a tree branch. Great time for some water play in the middle of those 50 miles! (I dare you.)

Ride manager JayaMae Gregory started this ride three years ago, after the death of a nursing student in nearby Chico. The ride is a memorial to Kristina; all funds from the ride go towards the young woman's dream: to provide health care to countries in need. It seems fitting to include these young riders at this ride as they, too, are youth with dreams.

Jaya is excited about having these students participate in her ride because, in her own words: "I love juniors, and here is why: 1. They are the future of our sport. 2. They don't complain nearly as much as the adult riders. 3. The riders are happier and their horses usually look happier. 4. They aren't afraid to go in the water off that rope swing. 5. My son is a junior!" She guarantees they have the best junior prizes -- she has to, or she'd hear from her son, Jakob. Again, what a great ride to share with these juniors from Australia.

With the ride venue chosen, the next step is choosing the young riders who will be part of this exchange. The Australians are busy with applications on their end, and we here in the West need to get started on that process. Teenage riders who are interested, please contact me by email for an application. We will be gathering information from interested juniors, then choosing the four who will be this year's squad.

Besides working with the four juniors who will become the new friends of these Australians, I also need to make arrangements for accommodations, trailers, horses, meals, the ride entries, and, as always, donations. I am asking for those who can step forward to help in some way to contact me.

This is not an event that is officially supported under AERC, but instead is something the members of our endurance community have gotten behind on their own. Why? Because it seems right, because it extends our values, because it is helping others, because it feels good.

The deeper I get into this the longer the "need" and "need-to-do" lists become. But I am excited about helping give the opportunity to broaden horizons and further endurance opportunities for our youth. Contact me, Laura Horst, by email to get in on the fun:

Trails Post: AERC trails grant helps fund Kettle Moraine picnic shelter

by Katie Bachhuber

In June 2015, Northern Kettle Moraine Horse Trail Association (NKMHTA) -- through fundraising efforts, donations, and a grant -- added a picnic shelter to the Group Sites area of the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest Horseriders Campground in New Prospect, Wisconsin.

The commercial-grade 24' x 36' shelter has a concrete floor, enclosed ceiling, lights, and plenty of electrical outlets for slow cookers and coffee makers. It will be shared by the three group sites and is conveniently located near the bathroom. Its brown color complements existing campground structures.

Doug Decker, NKMHTA member and project leader, said the undertaking went smoothly. Planning began in March and the project was completed by the end of June. He thanks Arch Electric, KP Concrete, and Northland Builders for their professional work ethic and products. He also thanks the NKMHTA members who volunteered on this activity.

Doug said partnering with Jason Quast, Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest superintendent, on this endeavor was a pleasure. Jason and his crew were very helpful. Doug commented how good the shelter looks and knows it will be appreciated and used by horse enthusiasts for years to come.

Mike Komro, NKMHTA member, researched, wrote and applied for the AERC trails grant for the shelter. This grant greatly reduced what the club had to raise through other campaigns and donations. What part did the AERC grant play? I can't say just what part of the shelter it built but I do know that having a shelter there will greatly help the morale of ride management, crews and riders.

This also allows us to begin our next big project sooner -- to improve the actual trail. NKMHTA thanks all those who donated to this $19,000 project.

Endurance riders in the Midwest have been riding this trail since 1967. That first year we had Dr. Matthew Makay-Smith from Delaware as control judge! Looking though the scrapbook that was diligently kept from 1967 until 1984, one can see many rider names that are still recognizable today. Some of those are still riding!

Over the years there have been several different endurance rides held on these trails. This year there are three: Kettles n' Bits, DRAWarama, and the Colorama Ride. The Colorama, with its 100-mile endurance ride, has been offered every year since 1967. This year we will be celebrating the 50th running of this scenic ride. The ride management is planning a special weekend. Come ride the Colorama 100 and be part of the history!

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