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Kathy Backus DVM
Head Vet

KB Best.heic

Advice from our Head Vet

The welcome statement of AERC puts an emphasis on having everyone feel welcomed and supported in a healthy way.  This has also been the foundation of philosophy and action shared by Mickey and Sheri and I at the Moab rides.   The TRUTH in “to finish is to win” can be expanded “to finish in good, appropriately tired but able to continue shape is to win.”


The roles and responsibilities each of us have toward the above foundational intent are clear. 


The rider and horse as a team are the primary pair holding the bulk of the responsibility and are privy to hours, days, and weeks of accumulated time together to KNOW each other well.


The control judge only sees brief minutes of time and gathers pertinent and volumes of information in those minutes of time.  The information is used to help guide and coach and never are to be considered medical advice or evaluation.


Likewise in the role of guiding and coaching, a control judge can share valuable resources with you but the responsibility of learning and teaching falls in another arena of both time and space outside of a live endurance event. 


In the past 18 years and over 10,000 miles as a participant in endurance events as well as being the control judge for many rides, my wisdom in the role as control judge in gathering the information and then using the information to guide and coach is invaluable. I hold a mantra of “help me to help you” as my theme of working together.


This isn’t our first rodeo, ride management and me. The wisdom of experience lends to generosity and grace but little tolerance for nonsense and ignorance.  We are not afraid to call out violations or fringe ethics politely but firmly and will hold the welfare and wellbeing of the horse at the highest level of integrity and priority.

Vetting your horse

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AERC description of Control Checks (Vet Checks)

Endurance competition is in and of itself a stressful event which carries some unavoidable risk for equine injury despite every precaution. The purpose of the control check is to identify and remove from competition those horses which present an unacceptably high risk of developing subsequent and more serious metabolic or biomechanical lesions before those injuries actually occur.

• A pre-ride examination should identify and exclude from competition horses that are unsound, metabolically or mechanically compromised or otherwise medically incapable of safely attempting the ride.

• On-course examinations detect signs of excessive levels of stress.

• A post-ride examination qualifies a horse for completion and is a chance to consult with the rider about their horse’s clinical condition, whether metabolic or mechanical. Plans should be made for the continued care of horses at the ride site and/or referring them to a veterinarian of the owner’s choice.

• Ongoing inspections in camp assess the safety and suitability of arrangements and care before and after the ride.

Trotting your horse at the Vet Check

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