Head Tevis Cup veterinarian Greg Fellers, DVM, will implement a new post-ride vet check this year. His check will be conducted within two hours after horses complete the 100-mile ride from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, Calif.

"What I am looking for in this new check is a continually falling heart rate. This check should find heart rates in the 44, 46, 48 beats per minute range," Fellers explained.

The horses will still have to pass a vet check within 30 minutes of crossing the finish line, requiring a heart rate of no more than 68 beats per minute.

The American Endurance Ride Conference grants completion status only to those horses that finish sound and meet pulse criteria. This additional post-ride check will not change completion status--it was added only to protect horses and make sure they are continuing to recover from the event.

"A normal, fit horse has a resting pulse in the range of 32, 36, or 38 beats per minute," Fellers said. "Along with falling heart rates and good gut sounds, the vet crew will be looking for the old 'EDPP' criteria: eating, drinking, peeing, pooping."

To assist in this assessment, the horse must be presented by the rider or a crew member or other person knowledgeable about the individual horse's normal behavior.

"It will be a really quick 2-3 minute check where we want to see the horse moving freely and be relatively bright, happy, and alert," Fellers said.

Already using a spread sheet and flowchart to organize the veterinary crew, the addition of yet another inspection does add to the ride logistics. One vet is scheduled to conduct checks from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. Saturday night, and two vets will be on duty from 3 a.m. until 7 a.m. Sunday, when most of the riders finish.

The addition of this requirement is part of what Tevis office manager Jo-Anne Young sees as a Tevis mantra: "Equine safety above all else."

Read more about the Tevis Cup.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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