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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

April 24, 2011

Obsessed with Vet Scores & Pull Codes?

Yes, of course I am one of the worriers.  I'm always concerned with the vet scores and what they mean.  If you are new to the sport here is the low down:

(A) superior, (B) acceptable, (C) cause for concern, or (D) unacceptable and cause for elimination.

I feel for my own purposes that (C) cause for concern can quickly lead to (D) unacceptable .  We are running in the A's and B's the last four rides, with our nemesis always being gut sounds and muscle tone.  I'm not sure how to make her gut sounds better, no --- I do know "what" to do, but don't have much success getting the horse to do "it."  If it is like most things, I expect over time she will get better about it, as she has in other areas.  The muscle tone issue at this point is either the result of some muscle damage from the old tie up, or could be (as suggested by the vet) possibly self-tensing body rigiditity due to distrust of being handled by strangers.  I'd prefer the latter. 

Pull codes come into play when unfortunately the control vet or you as rider decide the horse needs to call it a day.

AERC Pull Codes

There are eight pull codes available to define and/or describe why an equine or rider did not complete an AERC sanctioned event.
• L – Lame

• M – Metabolic

• SF – Surface Factors

• DQ – Disqualification

• OT – Overtime

• RO – Rider Option

• RO-L – Rider Option-Lame

• RO-M – Rider Option-Metabolic

The Lame code is used when any equine is found to be consistently observably lame by the control judge vet, and that lameness is defined as Grade III lame.  So this may explain why now and then we see a horse that we think trotted out lame, that was allowed to continue.  It is probably an inconsistent lameness, not considered Grade III.  A low grade lameness may sometimes be allowed to continue, while a consistently evident lameness may be pulled.

The Metabolic code is used concerning a variety of reasons  pertaining to the equine’s ability to cope cardiovascularly and metabolically to the stresses of an endurance ride.

Examples of metabolic issues include poor CRI (cardiac recovery scores), slow or failure to pulse down in a timely mannner, poor hydration, lack of thirst response, fatigue syndrome, and poor gut sounds.  More severe potential signs would include heat exhaustion, colic,  and thumps all of which would be reason for elimination from the competition.  A questionable metabolic condition should always be pulled due to the risks of continuing on.

The Surface Factor code generally is used for any tack gall, laceration or abrasion that would deem the horse unable to continue.

Overtime codes simply pertain to a rider that has gone overtime  on their total allowed ride time.

A Disqualification code is most often used by ride management for a rule infraction by the rider.  This includes unsportsmanlike conduct, an unruly horse, cutting trail, or breaking the rules as specified by AERC and ride management.

Rider Option codes are only to be used after the control vet has deemed the horse "fit to continue."  Then the rider in essence over-rules the vet because they believe their horse isn't fit to continue.  Rider Option can also be used when the rider is not able to continue due to their own injury, illness, or inability.
The only time a competitor can rider option is when the vet has more or less said you can continue, but you as rider decide either your horse is "not right", or the rider is not well.


  1. It is important to note that consistent lameness (observable at a trot/trotlike gait) is a required pull, even if the lameness is not severe. An inconsistant lameness MAY be allowed to continue (the vet has discretion).

    We all worry. Familiarity with the sport and with your own horse helps a bit. With the Toad, I never worried about gut sounds-if he felt bad, he wouldn't eat, and if he stopped eating, I'd pull him (that happened twice in 2 years). Fee is still learning the ropes, and she likes to snack and then nap at vet checks. Now that I know what "normal" is for her, I'm.relaxing a bit there. Stay tuned, I guess!

  2. Sorry, bad typing: that happened twice in *8* years.