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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Email: jackereynolds@yahoo.com


September 24, 2011

Food for thought

Do you ever wonder about the AERC's no drug policy?  On the surface I see it as a very good thing that horses aren't allowed to be given performance enhancing or injury masking drugs in this sport.  But there is the other side to the coin as well.  A lot of "stuff" is being given to horses at endurance rides that passes under the radar spectrum of "drug."  Many of your top riders are giving this, that, and something else to their horses.  Just read on Ridecamp the current discussion on something called CMPK Boluse Powder.  Though I understand the reasoning behind giving calcium, magnesium, sodium, Vitamin E, selenium, etc. etc. etc. as I supplemented Phebes with many of these things in hopes of solving her muscular problems. Yes, this stuff is AERC legal so far. But in truth?  Supplementing is actually dosing with a substance.


I have to wonder what the sport would look like if only substance free horses had the option to compete?  Meaning no electrolytes, no stomach buffers, no supplements, no anything.  Just the natural forage and water that a horse should have.  How far would the horse safely go?  How conservatively would you have to ride?  How few horses would make it to the finish line?  How many hundred mile finishers would you have? Wouldn't horsemanship have to step up to even a higher level if it was only rider, horse vs. trail?  Food for thought.   ~ E.G.

8 comments:

  1. I don't think the sport could exist with no electrolytes. Also I've heard that wild horses seek out mineral licks - I do not believe that horses "instinctively" balance their trace mineral requirements, but I do believe they keep their salt intake balanced.

    The difference between drugs and supplements is that drugs mask or fix a problem and supplements hopefully prevent one. I'm cool with that. I wish the winners were drug tested more often - but I don't feel so strongly about that that I'd be willing to pay more in ride fees.

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  2. If they ever started drug testing riders probably > than half of us would be screwed. I've got enough anti-inflammatory drugs on board to keep a horse running, add in some tramadol and I'm AERC ready. Ain't it just sad?

    :/

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  3. Funder, another thought, do you think those early TEVIS riders (back in the day) electrolyted those 100 mile horses? I think we "need" these things because we ride too fast (we as a general consensus term, not a you or me term, just average finish times). I'm going to pull out my TEVIS book tonight and do some reading. I'm curious now if they make mention of any of that in there, I can't remember.

    I wouldn't want anything to happen that would drive up ride fees either. Everything horse has got so expensive. Our feed has gone up $3.00 per bag since July. Now paying $13 per bag which is way low when comparing some brands, but last year this time I was paying just over $9 a bag. Fuel has gone up, up, up, our power company did a rate increase that was HUGE. I picked up a can of coffee the other day that over $9 and a small bag of Lays potato chips that was $4.59...the world is getting crazy out there.

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  4. Check your book, but IIRC they did not elyte for early rides. AND they had a lot more metabolic problems and, I'm sure, a lot more horses washed out. Elytes have enlarged the playing field and made it possible for those of us with average horses to play the game.

    One of those documents that I freakin' memorized when I was just dreaming about one day doing endurance was the Old Dominon "how to" guide. It reassured me that virtually any sound horse can do a 25 and most horses can do a 50. I don't think that's true at all if you go no-salt.

    I am so glad I could get all my hay in already. It's been a good year locally but I think it'll start selling into California sooner or later and the price will go up. I buy most of my food and staples at Costco - everything creeps up, but it's slow. I can't find any .99/lb apples and that's distressing!

    I am constantly amused at how badly riders abuse our bodies, but how we stress over our precious horses so much. :)

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  5. I think it is virtually impossible to regulate what we give our horses, whether it is 20 smartpaks a day or "natural" forage only. Even now, how often have you seen a horse tested for ANYTHING at a ride?

    I could put my horse on ace and bute and god-knows-what in order to finish mid-pack in an LD. Who's going to stop me?

    Of course I don't advocate that approach, but I do think the rules are pretty hollow without frequent random testing at all levels.

    That said, there are many supplements, legal substances, riding aids, orthopedic pads and saddles that I can't afford to use—does that give a wealthy rider an unfair advantage? You could say the same thing about me riding stiff because I sleep on the cold ground instead of in a warm LQ. Does my stiffness hamper my horse's performance? You betcha.

    "Natural forage and water" varies from pasture to pasture—from region to region would be laughable, I'm sure: Bluegrass, bunchgrass, no grass... The point being, it would be impossible to make it fair unless we all boarded our horses at the same laboratory. :)

    The sport is full of variables and "unfair" advantages. But truth me told, I'd rather have that than have someone tell me what tack to use, what "uniform" to wear, and what speed to ride.

    One thing I like about endurance is that the flashiest rig doesn't always win. :)

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  6. Honestly the only place that I saw blood and urine being collected was at Nationals the year it was held here in Indiana. Those were some of the front runners. Only one LD horse that I know of was tested at a ride I've gone to and that was the winning horse.

    There definitely is no equal playing ground in the sport unless you set your goals to individual goals, or you fall into a lot of money, but then you still aren't "equal" because no two horses are the same.

    Picking through the Tevis book last night I found no reference in those early rides on electrolytes. In fact the first couple of rides there was no "race" involved, it was ride to finish. It was several years before a racing component and a trophy (the Tevis Cup) was awarded, and the later the Haggin Cup was added to stress the importance of condition. Also of course in the early years there weren't that many horses involved, but a high percentage of those finished. I found it interesting that when Mr. Robie got his first pull for lameness he had himself a regular little snit fit! But the control vet pulled him anyway. It is also interesting to note the variance of breed among those early riders. Thoroughbred, Morgan, Arabian, Appaloosa, grade horse. The founder of the ride of course rode an Arabian stallion, and later an Arabian mare.

    "One thing I like about endurance is that the flashiest rig doesn't always win." Where I ride that is mostly what you do have. Me and my old stock style trailer with dressing room are the trailer trash of the ride *LOL*. There are trailers lined up at those rides that I'm sure cost more than my home...I notice in ride photos out west a lot more (modest trailers) at the rides than here in the midwest. But that thought is only loosely based on a few photos...so not really worth anything!

    I believe the whole ball of wax turns out to be what you want to make of it. If you keep your goals (small) specific to you and your horse or to a small cluster of riders (club) you can have a lot of fun. If you have a small budget and big dreams, nah...not so much. The big dreams take money, time, more money, and more time, and one helluva horse (which may be expendable).

    My personal barrier at this juncture is MOTIVATION. As I would rather brush out Phebes' mane and give her kisses than ride the more suitable horse towards my goal :(

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  7. "One of those documents that I freakin' memorized when I was just dreaming about one day doing endurance was the Old Dominon "how to" guide. It reassured me that virtually any sound horse can do a 25 and most horses can do a 50. I don't think that's true at all if you go no-salt."

    I agree with that statement 100%.

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  8. "One thing I like about endurance is that the flashiest rig doesn't always win." Where I ride that is mostly what you do have. Me and my old stock style trailer with dressing room are the trailer trash of the ride *LOL*. There are trailers lined up at those rides that I'm sure cost more than my home...I notice in ride photos out west a lot more (modest trailers) at the rides than here in the midwest."

    A very true statement indeed! The recent AERC ride I volunteered for to do P&Rs for here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, had the 50 mile winner camped out in the back of her pick-up truck, with a rusty old camper cab attached on top. Her horse was hauled in behind in a rusty, old white two horse bumper pull trailer. Her assistants were her two teenage sons.

    There was a mix of various trailers at that ride, too. Only a few fancy LQ trailers, with a number of stock trailers (riders camped out in the back with tarps lining the sides), and some basic 2-3 horse trailers. Some folks sleeping in their trucks.

    Maybe we're just more laid back out here in the west, or we have less money. :)

    ~Lisa

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