by Jay Randle
Now, as for Patrick's and Terry's comments about how Logbooks could help with the "referee system" and "identifying people who may need some education", let me explain our Early Warning System (EWS).
All details of every horse entered in a ride, and all details from the logbooks relating to Vet Out reasons (Pulls), and health concerns, are entered into the AERA database. From here, trends are immediately noticed and acted upon. The EWS has in place standard "penalty points" that apply for each problem or transgression, as follows:
Vet Out, pulse under 66bpm, 10 points
Vet Out, pulse 66bpm or over, 15 points
Vet Out, non invasive metabolic, 10 points
Vet Out, mild metabolic, 15 points
Vet Out, severe metabolic, 30 points
Vet Out, lame – first, 6 points
Vet Out, lame horse – second consecutive, 12 points
Vet Out, lame horse – third consecutive, 18 points
Vet Out, back, 6 points
Vet Out, gall or injury, 4 points
Metabolic disorders, as described above are defined as:
a) 10 points - mild metabolic disorders that do not required invasive treatment
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, more severe GIT disorders, ie, Diarrhoea, colitis, impactions, paralytic ileus, hyper/hypomotility colics, moderate to severe heat stroke.
If a horse or rider accumulates 30 or more non-completion penalty points, the Horse Welfare Officer will determine whether the rider or horse, through the owner or connections, needs to be cautioned in writing.
Any rider or horse (through owner or connections) having been cautioned in writing, who then accumulates more than 45 but less than 60 penalty points must enter all affiliated endurance rides under novice rider and/or novice horse status until two novice rides have been successfully completed.
Any rider or horse (through owner or connections) having been cautioned in writing, who then accumulates 60 penalty points or more, will be asked to show cause why the horse should not be suspended.
Horses (through owner or connections) that are known to progress to renal failure, laminitis, hepatophathies, CNS related disturbance, will be asked to show cause why the horse should not be suspended.
Riders or horses (through owner or connections) that Vet out on gait at three consecutive rides will be asked to show cause why the rider or horse should not be suspended.
These "penalty points" add up, and are reduced by
a) 6 points on the anniversary of each penalty
b) 6 points for successful completion of rides up to 90km
c) 10 points for successful completion of rides between 90 – 159km
d) 12 points for successful completion of rides 160km and above.
Although this system works reasonably well (kind of the "big stick" approach), in my opinion it does not take into consideration a `run of bad luck'. As an example, a rider who has 100% completion on a variety of horses over 3 years, suddenly has a horse develop a severe Ty-Up requiring invasive treatment, and incurs 30 penalty points. Two weeks later the same rider rides another horse that suffers heat stroke due to extreme weather conditions. This rider is now at 60 penalty points, and is suspended from competition for 3 months after an argument with the Management Committee. Three months later, the rider competes on a third horse which is Vetted Out lame. Again the rider is suspended, this time for 2 months.
This is a hypothetical situation, however similar situations have occurred. Unfortunately, the previous three years of 100% completion is ignored! I would suggest that "completion points" be also added into a system like this, so that the rider can collect a `bank' of points for use against any future "penalty points".
Of course, this is all computerised here, and doesn't take much administration, as the points are automatically assigned when the RMs enter the ride completion details into the database. BUT...our membership levels are way lower than yours, and we have far fewer horses in competition too.