Siskiyoudaily.com - Full Article
July 19 2011
Siskiyou County —
Montague V Bandit is a tall (16:2 hand) 11-year-old bay Arabian Gelding who, together with his partner, Laura Flett, have entered and completed 200 miles of 50-mile endurance races.
The American Endurance Rider’s Conference (AERC) sanctions endurance races all over the United States. To enter a race the horse first must pass a pre-ride Veterinary check in which they are examined for heart, capillary refill, respiratory, hydration, muscle tone, leg soundness, lack of back soreness, gut sounds and general attitude. The rider is given a ride card (much like a report card) grading all of the above which must be presented throughout the ride and upon completion. A problem in any of the above areas may result in horse and rider being “pulled” from the ride.
Very early the following morning, the race is underway and has been flagged in advance by the ride committee. The rides are “very beautiful,” Flett said, and consist of a course that will lead the horse and rider to a number of veterinary checks along the way.
At each check, the horse must first have a recovery heart rate of 60 beats per minute at which time a mandatory hold time of 15 or 30 minutes up to one hour starts. During that time the horse must again pass another thorough vet check, similar to the pre-ride check, have food and water, cool down and then be ready to leave on the next loop. Thus, a horse that is fast on the trail and fast to recover in heart rate tends to make its way to the front of the pack. Fitness is obviously key. Any horse not fit to continue is immediately “pulled” by the staff of veterinarians (or in some cases by rider option).
Upon completion of the ride and a final vet check, the top 10 finishers are then checked for the “Best Condition” award. The AERC motto is “To Finish is to Win”. Riders tend to help one another when in trouble and find a niche of horses that have a similar traveling speed throughout the day. In a 50-mile race, the finish time can be as soon as five hours of riding. If horse and rider have not crossed the finish line by the 12-hour mark then the team is “pulled” for overtime. One hundred mile rides generally allow 24 hours for completion.
In April, Bandit and Laura completed the Whiskeytown Chaser in the mountains surrounding Whiskeytown Lake, riding in with a Redding horse four minutes off of the first place time for a tie for second place and a ride time of 7 hours 14 minutes...
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