To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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Vet Check and Completion Exam Vet check & completion exam "how-tos"

By Carol Thompson and Dinah Rojek

Attend the pre-ride briefing! You will learn about the day's pulse parameters, trail information and marking, hold times and finishing procedures. Because there are so many variations, both regional as well as from ride to ride, it is always best to ask the ride management questions about the holds and the ride at the pre-ride meeting.

Some of the more common variations: at some rides the in-timer, pulse taker and out-timer may be the same person. At others there may be a specified area to care for your horse. Some rides will carry your equipment to holds away from base camp. Others will allow crewing only in designated areas or not at all. Some rides provide hay along the trail and others ask you to provide your own horse water.

There are always enough surprises along the trail; if you know what to expect at the holds you will have more time to care for your horse.

The following information is not a substitute for reading the AERC rules, available online at www.aerc.org or in booklet form from the AERC office.

Vet check procedures

For endurance and LD riders:

1. Arrive at the vet check; get arrival time on rider card.

a. Double-check arrival time is correctly written on the rider card.

2. Go to the crewing area (if assigned and which, depending on regional customs, you may want to set up the day before the ride).

a. Get horse's pulse down to parameters (tack off, water on, etc.).

b. The horse must reach pulse parameters within 30 minutes of arrival time.

c. As a courtesy, let the out-timer know if you plan to take some extra rest time.

3. Go to pulse-in gate and give the timer your number.

4. Give rider card to recorder/scribe.

a. Once pulse is verified as within parameters, collect your rider card and continue to the veterinarian for a fit-to-continue check.

b. Hand your rider card to the recorder/scribe and follow the vet's instructions.

c. The veterinarian will tell you if you may continue your ride, whether your horse needs to be rechecked, or if your horse is withdrawn from the ride. Be sure to bring up any concerns you have about your horse. The veterinarian is there to help you, but you know your horse best.

d. If you choose to pull for reasons unrelated to your horse's well-being, this is the best time to tell the veterinarian you are taking a "rider option." NOTE: You may pull yourself or your horse at any time, but if you choose to pull, make sure ride management and veterinarians know! If a rider desires a "rider option" pull, a ride vet must still certify that the horse is "fit to continue."

5. Take your rider card to the out-timer, if appropriate. Double-check that your out time is correctly recorded on your rider card. (If your horse's pulse is not down, follow management instructions to re-present.)

6. Go back to your crewing area. Both horse and rider need to drink, eat and relax.

7. Be tacked up and ready to leave at your out time.

a. Check with the out-timer before leaving the hold.

b. Make sure you're leaving on the correct trail.

Endurance ride completions

1. Completion is the time you cross the finish line.

2. You have 60 minutes from the time you cross the finish line to get the horse's pulse down to parameters (announced at the pre-ride meeting) and have a completion exam. (Many experienced competitors present their horses for a completion exam as soon as their pulses are down.)

3. Listen at the pre-ride briefing for the best condition procedure for the top 10 finishers. It will vary from ride to ride, and it is your responsibility to return to the veterinarians at the time announced during the pre-ride meeting.

LD ride completions

1. You are not given a completion time until your horse's pulse rate reaches the day's parameters (announced at the pre-ride meeting).

a. Pulse recovery and final vet exam must be completed before the maximum ride time.

b. You have 30 minutes from the time you cross the finish line to get the horse's pulse down to parameters and have a completion exam.

c. Many experienced competitors present their horses for a completion exam as soon as the pulse is down.

2. The first horse to attain a pulse recovery within parameters is considered the first horse eligible to complete a limited distance ride.

3. Listen carefully at the pre-ride briefing for pulse parameters and whether there will be best condition judging for the first 10 horses to reach pulse parameters. This will vary from ride to ride, and it is your responsibility to return to the veterinarians at the time announced during the pre-ride meeting, if applicable.

Carol Thompson is the Southeast Region Mentor Liaison.