Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Endurance Aussie Style

Hi All

I have been inundated with emails from many of you, so decided it would be
better to address your questions on the list, instead of personally. I will
send info on the 4 main questions you all have:

1. 30 minute recovery
2. electrolyte use
3. logbooks
4. penalties

This is my answer to Question Number 1......

In Australia, all Australian Endurance Riders Association (AERA) rides
currently operate on a 30 minute recovery time at the end of each
leg/stage/phase of the ride, including the finish. For an 80km (50mile)
ride, for instance, the first leg is approximately 40km which finishes back
at ride base, and from the moment you cross the line you have 30 minutes in
which to pulse down and then report to the Vetting area.

All but 2 of the rides I have ever attended here have the finish line of
each leg of the ride (including the end of the ride) at the ride base,
within easy walking distance of your campsite. The 2 rides that were the
exceptions had their end-of-ride finishing line only about 200 - 300 metres
away from the actual ride base, on a straight, flat road leading into the
ride base. This alternative finish line was only to allow a safe area for a
gallop finish, and was only really aimed at the front-runners. All those
coming in later had to actually cross the 'real' finish line at ride base.

For rides where a suitable gallop finish area is not available, many
Organising Committees rule that "no gallop finish" is allowed, and that
riders must either a) sort out their placings on track, or b) are only
allowed a trot finish, with disqualification being the penalty for people
breaking this rule!

All AERA rides here require the rider to cross the finish line, receive a
time slip from the in gate time keeper, and then return to your campsite,
where the crewing takes place. At the 30 minute mark you MUST be at the
Vetting area, ready to present to the Vets. You cannot present to the Vets
any earlier than 30 minutes, and you cannot present to the Vets any later
than 30 minutes. As you can imagine, this can cause some congestion in the
Vetting area if there are many horses finishing all at the same time!

If a horse cannot recover to 60 bpm within this 30 minutes, it is Vetted Out
(eliminated). In fact, the required recovery pulse is 55 bpm on the first
leg of any ride, with 60 bpm allowed on all subsequent legs.

As of this year, there has been much discussion on the possibility of
amending the current AERA rule to read that horses may present to the Vet
WITHIN 30 minutes, instead of AT 30 minutes. This will alleviate the
congestion at the Vetting area, and will allow riders to present earlier
than normal if their horse has recovered easily. Whatever time you present
at, that is the time that the Vets will do a complete clinical examination,
including pulse, respiration, trot-up, gut sounds, mucous membranes, heart
sounds, etc, etc...

This is not an official rule as yet, however I believe that some Organising
Committees will be 'trialling' this proposed amendment prior to it going to
a vote of all members late this year.

This is my answer to Question Number 2:

The use of electrolytes is very widespread in Australian endurance
competition. There are many different brands of e-lytes uses, however the
most common would have to be EnduraMax. Some people use (to me) extreme
amounts of electrolytes, and most seem to use about 40-60 grams per dose,
prior to departure on each leg of the ride. Some also e-lyte during each
leg of the ride, carrying pre-mixed syringes for the purpose.

Now, although our competition season is generally throughout the winter,
many of our rides can still be quite hot and dry. (I think they're calling
it "global warming"!) Our leading endurance Veterinarians in the sport
heavily endorse e-lyte useage, and there have been many papers written on
the topic!

Personally, I vary e-lyte useage depending upon the individual horse. I
probably am on the "lower end" of useage amounts, as I don't tend to dose
prior to each leg, just at the beginning. However, this changes depending
upon the weather on the day! I'm sure that the other Aussies on this list
could give you their own dosing rates for e-lytes.

During regular training, however, I do add a small amount of e-lytes (as
well as salt, magnesium and a mineral mix) to every feed. This is because
of the area in which I live, the amount of work the horses do in training,
and the type of natural pasture we have here. However it is probably
because I am dosing the horses every day in training, that I don't tend to
dose them heavily at rides.

I have certainly had horses here that have had a bad reaction to e-lytes,
and who have performed better with no e-lytes at all. I do believe that
e-lytes are a major causal factor in the development of ulcers in otherwise
healthy horses, but I also believe that by introducing (slowly) a regular
dosage of e-lytes, many of my horses have not developed any side effects.

Just my opinion......

Question Three: Logbooks

In Australia, every horse has a permanent logbook. This logbook is
mandatory for any horse entered in an 80km (or longer) ride.

Horses can enter 40km training rides on a card only, but I have always found
that these cards are easily lost, easily crumpled, and extremely easy to get
wet/torn/damaged, etc. A logbook is much easier to manage!

BUT... we don't carry our logbooks with us! The logbook is taken to
pre-ride vetting, where the details are filled out, and then it goes to the
Secretary's Box. Upon the horse completing each leg of the ride, and then
presenting to the Vetting area at the 30 minute mark, the logbook is given
to the rider by the Steward at the Vetting area. The rider holds the
logbook for as long as it takes the Vet to complete the clinical
examination, and then the Vet completes the details in the logbook,
whereupon it is then *magically* transported back to the Secretary's Box.
(This is a job usually handled by "runners"..... in the main, young kids
who are roped into using their energy for the good of mankind).

So, we end up with logbooks that are usually clean, neat, and tidily
completed. Many riders have clear plastic covers on them, some have tooled
leather covers, but mine are just covered with clear contact paper, which
really does protect them. Additionally, I then cover individual pages with
clear contact paper, making them a really secure document.

The advantage of having a logbook is that your horse has a permanent record
all in one place. One of the disadvantages is that any Vet can flip back
through previous pages of your logbook and some of them can actually develop
an unfair opinion of your horse as a result. For example, a horse that was
eliminated at a ride due to a lameness problem, could then be unfairly
"picked upon" by a Vet who sees that previous entry and decides that the
horse is still lame in the same leg... even though it is patently obvious
that it is NOT!!

But over all, I believe that a logbook is an advantage to have. I would
hate to have to organise and maintain a record of a bunch of ride cards.

And now for Question Number 4:

We are extremely lucky in Australia to have quite a good system of
record-keeping within the AERA. If a horse and/or a rider incurs a penalty,
this penalty is recorded and the information on the penalty is then
distributed to Ride Organisers on a regular basis, allowing them to know the
status of any horse/rider.

This system of penalties is called the Early Warning System. The horse
and/or rider accumulates points against them, which can be redeemed in a
number of ways.

Vet out pulse under 66bpm 10
Vet out pulse 66bpm or over 15
Vet out non invasive metabolic 10
Vet out mild metabolic 15
Vet out sever metabolic 30
Vet out lame - first 6
Vet out lame - second consecutive 12
Vet out lame - third consecutive 18
Vet out other - back 6
Vet out gall or injury 4

The rider only attract consecutive points for lameness if riding the same
horse that vets out lame consecutively.

Horses withdrawn (pulled) in accordance with the appropriate rule as well as
out-of-riding-time non-completion which pass the veterinary inspection do
not attract non-completion penalty points.

Non-completion points are reduced by:
a) 6 points on the anniversary of each penalty
b) 6 points for subsequent successful completion of rides up to 90km
10 points for subsequent successful completion of rides of 91 - 159 km
12 points for subsequent successful completion of rides of 160km and

Metabolic disorders as described above are defined as:
a) 10 points - mild metabolic disorders that do not require invasive
b) 15 points - mild metabolic disorders such as Ty-Up (Exertional
Rhabdmyolysis), other mild muscle conditions, Synchronous Diaphragmatic
Flutters (Thumps), mild heat distress, very mild GIT conditions
c) 30 points - more severe metabolic disorders, including Exhaustive Horse
Syndrome (fatigue related), Endotoxaemia, the more severe GIT crises ie.
Diarrhoea, colitis, impactions, paralytic ileus, hyper/hypomotility colics,
moderate to severe heat stroke.

If a horse accumulates 30 or more non-completion penalty points, the owner
and/or rider generally receives a written caution from the State Management

Any horse that has been cautioned, who then accumulates more than 45 but
less than 60 penalty points must enter all affiliated endurance rides under
novice horse/novice rider rules until two novice rides are completed

Any horse that has been cautioned, who then accumulates 60 penalty points or
more, will be asked to show cause why the horse (or rider) should not be

Horses that are known to progress to laminitis, renal failure,
hepatophathies, CNS related disturbance, will be asked to show cause why the
horse should not be suspended.

Horses that vet out on gait at three consecutive rides will be asked to show
cause why the horse should not be suspended.


The Head Veterinarian at any ride may impose a rest order on a horse, if the
horse is injured and/or stressed and/or in need of protection from further
abuse, or the life, health or welfare of the horse may be jeopardised if it
continued to compete.

The rest order generally means that the horse in not permitted to compete at
further endurance rides for a period of time sufficient for that horse to
recover from its injury or stress (up to a maximum of twelve months).

When a rest order has been issued to a horse, the length of the rest order
is written in the appropriate page in the logbook, and a highly visible red
sticker is put onto that page. This is easily noticeable when the horse
enters subsequent rides.

Any rider/owner of a horse on a rest order who breaches the rest order faces
disclipinary action. The horse and rider will then be disqualified from the
ride where the breach has occured.

Any questions?

Best regards

Jay Randle

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