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

April 21, 2011

Bending the Rules of Endurance & Limited Distance

Tales from the trail.

I have a question.  At a sanctioned ride who is in charge of making sure that all the rules of an Endurance Ride / LD are followed?  I've picked up on a couple of conversations lately where someone has been at a ride and it "seemed" that the rules were being bent if not downright broken.  In two cases it was in the actual pulsing in or vetting in process.  (No it did not involve me in any way, just responding on hear-say which is worthless until "proven" as valid)  In one instance horses weren't pulsing down (likely over-ridden due to the ride conditions) and given their "time" when they really weren't down.   Another instance was a case where an obviously (per observer) lame front running horse was allowed to finish for a top placement.  These days I'm so far in the back at any particular ride that placement for me at this point is a real non-issue anyway, I just don't care about that ... but I know some riders do ride for that top ten placement, and accumulation of points really matters to them.  So for them, a bending of the rules could mean they are shoved down further in placement when perhaps they rode and managed their horse better than someone who maybe got a pass on their pulse down or trot out.  I know that some of what happens during your vet check is open to conjecture anyway, that you are receiving an educated opinion,  but I personally really value the vet checks as my "fail safe" in case I miss something.  I would NEVER want a free pass on a pulse down....I want to see that number go to 60 and drop like a stone.  Let us hope that these situations are the exception to the rule. 

I've heard tales of folks who know a trail well enough, taking short cuts to knock five or seven miles off their ride.  Why?  Why would a rider do this?  If I did not ride the actual course, then what did I prove to myself?  If I cut trail I didn't actually ride the ride!  My entire goal when I'm out there is to follow the ribbons/course as set by ride management, and see if we can beat the trail that day and finish with a sound horse that is ready to go again tomorrow.

Just sayin'... what say you?         ~E.G.


  1. The ride vets out here would be horrified to hear about that. Our ride judges often make rules stricter than AERC requires for the welfare of the horses. A free pass on pulse? Not in a million years! I've had instances where Oz pulses down to 60, and is back up to 62 by the time he walks from pulse timer to vet, but that's different from not pulsing in the first place! The only time I've seen a vet pass a horse that wasn't ready to go another mile was a 'tired' horse finishing his first 50. The horse was sound and pulsed, but had no immpulsion. But it was the finish line, so why give an incomplete?

    As for people who go off course.... ARE YOU KIDDING!?!?! Wow...

  2. I am involved with a local distance riding group and have helped put on several different rides now. We have one lady within our group who I has gone through the process to become a ride ambassador ( I think that is what is it called) She is the overseer of the rules to make sure things are legal. I don't know if all rides have them but I think it's a good idea. Unfortunately, we have had issues with riders taking shortcuts, cutting off distance, even dashing off into the woods, hiding out for a while and returning (if the ride is an out and back). It unfortunate but it does occur. It's sad really and shows poor sportsmanship. Hopefully it is the exeption to the rule but it does occur. I haven't experienced the pulse down shortcuts however at any of the rides we have put on but we have some pretty darn good vets and volunteers who make riders tow the line.

  3. Jonna,

    I have not heard of this "ride ambassodor" thing, but what a good idea! Riders should have a neutral party they can go to in order to report rule irregularities without causing the actual hard working ride mgt. added stress, though I guess they'd be in the process eventually. Wonder if there is a rule for that, or if some rides like you just do this?

    A person can accidently break the rules by "not knowing", but people who purposefully cheat in some way to get an advantage should be banned from the sport, since so much depends on each rider's good sportsmanship.

    Of course on the other hand, I experienced above and beyond sportsmanship from two riders my last time out. ~E.G.

  4. I'll have to find out more about the ambassador position. It may just be something she did when the majority of the rides we hosted were CTR's several years back so it may be where it's coming from , and not an AERC specific thing. I'll let you know!
    and I totally agree, there is always one or two bad eggs in the bunch but usually that's not the norm. Y

  5. Oh I forgot- regarding Dom's comment. NOT KIDDING!! Wish I was. Our outriders totally busted them and they got DQ'd but we suspect there were others as well we didn't catch. Nonetheless, I wanted to share an unfortunate situation my husband experienced with his horses pulse in at a ride last year. The vet he ended up going to happened to be fairly new to the sport which was part of the issue and my husband not really knowing the rules of the vet in procedure I suppose didn't help either. My husband isn't a dedicated endurance rider but dabbles in it just to do something different and to support me . Last year, he came in with his horse and his horse pulsed down to criteria and went on vet. He was actually in the top ten, merely because he just has an awesome horse. When he vetted through the vet said his went back up in pulse but apparently couldn't do math. First the vet said he's up to 78, then he said he was getting 14 and asked my husband what 14 times 4 was (which is 56). Then he checked him a third time and said he was at 64. The vet DQ'd him. Unfortunately, I was too busy at the finish line to even know any of this was going on otherwise, I would have had him request a different vet for god sakes! My husband didn't know he could do that and the vet kind of scared him that his horse was in bad shape but then gave him A and B's on everything else, even the trot out. The horse was not in any distress whatsoever. At the very least the vet should have made the call to get another vets' opinion. THere were two others standing right there. By the time I knew about it all, a half hour had passed and there wasn't anything to be done. It was really discouraging for my husband. He had done a good job and then to have the day end like that. So, that's my one bad experience with pulse downs.

  6. I was having this EXACT thought process when I went to my ride the weekend before last. The ppl camped next door had one 25 and one 50 horse. The 25 horse got pulled and seemed to have metabolic issues, the 50 came in top 10 but came back to the trailer DEAD LAME on one front (right or left, can't remember). I heard them say before they went for final vetting & BC "better walk her LOTS before the check" I guess I don't quite understand what LOTS of walking would do for a horse that lame, or why they would be given a completion. I finished 5 minutes overtime with a happy healthy horse, all A's, and didn't get a completion of course due to time..its all very interesting to contemplate

  7. Walking a horse "lots" will help if it's a muscle cramp (not if it's a sore foot, obviously), or if the weather is cold and horses are starting to cramp up when they stop moving.

  8. Very sad! I don't think it's worth it to cheat to win, ever, but especially since I'm only riding against myself. :)

    The main vet in our area is really good in a brutal way. She will not hesitate to pull you at the finish. I really appreciate that, as much as it would suck. If she says my horse is ok, then I really trust her.

    I think a CRI would catch horses that haven't pulsed down. Are those optional? Do your vets do them?

  9. Right, that makes sense AareneX, but this horse just looked seriously dead lame on her front, and it was a very very rocky ride with a good number of horses coming in tender footed..but this one was hobbling lame when she came back to the trailer..who knows.

  10. Part of what drew me to this sport was the emphasis on welfare of the horse, I hate hearing about stuff like that (the cheating on pulse and lame horse being passed by the vet) makes my blood pressure go up.

    I lump cheaters in with poachers, I despise both!