Ride Vet practice
|May 11, 2014||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Yesterday I traded my tights and helmet for my stethoscope and a pen and tried on the hat of “ride vet”.
I was invited to the Cache Creek endurance ride by the head vet, who knows me through endurance, to get some real practice vetting at a ride and to get to know some of the other vets. It was a bit complicated since I was on call at the Davis VMTH (veterinary medicine teaching hospital) until 8am Saturday morning but I drove over as soon as my shift ended – managed to remember my way to ride camp, and found the vet at camp that Dr. L* had told me he wanted me to work with.
“Hi! I’m not sure any mentioned it to you….but I’m Melinda and I’m here to help you!”
It all came out rather jumbled and fast since I was nervous and excited.
Endurance is a very small world and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t really a vet yet – the impression I made at this ride as I stepped into a vet role would last well after graduation and as I vetted my first rides for real.
I figured there were 2 groups of people at this ride
- Those who knew me and wouldn’t be surprised to see me practicing to be a vet.
- Those who didn’t know me, wouldn’t quite be clear whether I was a vet yet or not (and so would probably assume I was since I was doing vet-y stuff) and wouldn’t be confident that I *really* understood what endurance was about.
I’ve seen new vets at rides before and I’m always much more comfortable if I know they have a background in the sport.
So, I dressed accordingly.
So there would be no confusion, I donned my “almost a vet” t-shirt (you can see a picture of it here)
And….I wore my Tevis buckle.
I *rarely* get any comments on my Tevis buckle. After all, at least in the area I live and compete in, it seems like *everyone* has a Tevis buckle. And most of the time, when I’m wearing it I’m identifiable as an endurance rider and so is not a topic of conversation.
Yesterday was a different story. I couldn’t count the number of comments I got, ranging from “you did Tevis?” to “Is that yours?” to “Good for you!”. From some people I got the distinct feeling that seeing that buckle elevated any observations I had during the exam from suspicious, to something that might have actual merit.
I’m really not that into status symbols – I really believe you should prove yourself through doing – however there was some real value in that symbol as a shortcut that allowed me to be more efficient and effective.
So how was it?
I absolutely LOVED vetting at the ride. Loved it. Made me love the sport and the horses and people even more. So many of you care about your horses so much and it was wonderful to share the accomplishment of finishing a ride with you. I can’t wait to do this for real.
I am so grateful that Dr. L* gave me the opportunity to do a “test run”. By DOING and WATCHING I have a couple of things in the back of my mind that I’ll do differently at the next ride. Things that you guys aren’t interested in like the mechanics of a best condition exam, subtle communication strategies etc.
A New Perspective
Seeing the sport from another perspective let me appreciate and notice things that I had never noticed in the past. Here are some tips, tricks, and other musing from the other side of the vet check.
- The range of horses that do this sport are vast – they are NOT all cookie cutter arab horses. I don’t think I quite appreciated the range of horses that are successful in this sport before I got to put my hands on them. Sure, most of them are arab in name or arab crosses – but some of those horses are so different from each other that it’s almost a disservice to lump them under one common name!
- There were more horses than I expected that were subtly off at the end of the ride. Including the LD. I’ve had this happen to me at the end of the ride (“there might a little something in that (insert your choice foot)”), and because I’m in my own little rider bubble, I never knew that I wasn’t the only one. Most of the lamnesses are so subtle enough that a completion wasn’t a problem.
- More horses than I expected that were sound on the straight line were to some degree lame on the circle.
- If you are showing best condition and you get to chose a circle size, go bigger.
- CRI’s were a better predictor than I thought of what horses would look good at the best conditioning judging.
- The 2 hour post ride optional check before taking your horse home (if leaving the same day as the ride) really does work. I love the exam for 3 reasons.
1. It gives the rider a chance to interact with the vet without a grade. Nothing is written down. You have your completion. It’s a positive interaction with nothing on the line. In general I think AERC vets do a good job explaining to riders that they are there to help the rider and horse, however it is human nature in a judged competition for their to be a bit of friction between the judgers and the judged. I believe that having this check available and encouraged will eventually increase confidence and trust between rider and vet.
2. I think it will encourage riders to ask the vets more questions and share concerns about their horse’s recovery that seemed too “minor” on their own to warrant a check out by the vet. However, if your horse is already at the vet for that 2 hour check and the vet is asking you how the recovery’s going…..you may as well ask that “minor” question right?
3. It’s a chance for rider education. I know that I love educating. It’s something I hope to do a LOT of in my career – I would much rather prevent a problem than treat one. The post ride check is an opportunity to have a rider-vet interaction outside of the competition and have that interaction focused on education. Many riders are comfortable tracking down a vet in the evening and asking for advice, but many people are not. I was one of those riders that didn’t want to “bug” a vet with my trivial questions.
- Remember all that time we spent on groin muscles here on the blog? I actually got to see and feel groin muscle tightness on a number of different horses! It’s real, it’s there, and most of the time it did not show up on the trot out.
- When vetting horses it really didn’t matter to me whether the sweat was left crusted on or had been carefully curried off. Much to my relief as a “leave the sweat on” sort of gal (mostly driven by my horse Farley and her intense desire to not be fussed with during a ride).
- When it comes to the parameters of wounds, galls, back/wither soreness etc, the endurance vet check will pick up on “gross” things. I was told not to do a lot of poking and prodding (use the flat of my hand, not my finger tips) because we don’t want to be accused of poking too hard and causing the horse to move out lame – so unless the horse was really sore, or there was a visual wound, you can’t conclude that “A’s” for back and withers at a 50 means you are going to be fine to do a 100. If you *really* want to know if you have some potential trouble spots, you should ask the vet to do a more thorough looking over (maybe at that 2 hour post ride check?).
- Rider weight has less to do with the overall best condition score than I thought. Good vet scores, combined with a good time can make up for it. So if you have a good looking horse and came in pretty fast – then go for it!!!!
- It’s really easy to make a sound horse look lame because of a poor trot out. A lame horse will just look lamer. So really, there is no justifiable reason to do a poor trot out.
Obviously me NOT vetting at an endurance ride, but it’s still me being vet-y so it counts right?
Fascinating! Especially the positive take on the 2-hour recheck (which I was not a fan of in theory, and I”m reserving judgment until I go through a couple in person).
I was a skeptic too. The thought of dragging my tired a$$ and “please don’t fuss with me” horse over to the vet check was really annoying. In practice I think it’s actually much less trouble. I’ll probably be walking the horse around any ways about that time. It’s easy enough to stop by the check and see if there’s a slow point at the vet check. I think it’s really a value added thing for the rider – someone asked me about how the toe in confirmation of the horse would affect it, another about boots, etc. It seemed like everyone who stopped by had a question or 2 even if their horse was completely fine and it was fun to talk about stuff beyond just the completion exam. Not sure how I would feel if it was mandatory – but the “highly encouraged” 2 hour post worked well at least this time.
I’m a fan of the 2-hour check already, and you just cemented it for me. Can’t wait to read more posts like this!
I too like the 2 hour check idea. I always seem to come up with some trivial little question but don’t want to bother the busy vets, so this will work out perfectly and give me an excuse to ask anyway!
Good to hear you enjoyed being on the other end of the stethoscope at a ride.
Really interesting, and so exciting that you are almost out there doing it for real!
OOHHHH – another thing I learned on Saturday is that I’m better than I think at spotting lameness and localizing it to a limb. I guess obsessing about soundness for a couple of years will do that :). LOL. And thanks to seeing dixie (funder’s horse) move out enough I was really comfortable evaluating gaited horses too!
Niiiiice strategy with shirt and buckle! Very clever. (Somewhat appalled by “Is that yours?” though. Surely people aren’t in the habit of wearing somebody else’s buckle?)
Don’t know about other readers, but that stuff [us] guys aren’t interested in sounds interesting to me!
The note about horses being subtly off is, weirdly, encouraging to me. I wouldn’t want any horses to be broken, of course, but I’m guessing that’s not at all what you’re saying, and…I’ve had some conversations with Funder about this. I’m coming from a world in which nobody says “lame” unless they mean “LAME” and it’s really jarring/startling/worrying to hear it so much more often in distance-riding-land. Intellectually I know that most of those lamenesses are subtle-off-ness and nnnnnot disasters in the grand scheme of things…but I’ve been having a hard time recalibrating my sensitivity simultaneously up (to notice more) and down (to freak out about it less), and hearing that I’m not the only one who isn’t 100% confident 100% of the time that my horse is 100% perfectly sound is helpful.
In a similar vein, I appreciate hearing that no-poking is the rule of the day! I know I’m hyper-sensitive to back stuff, but I kind of side-eye claims of “my horse always gets As and so my saddle fit must be totally fine.” Hopefully they’re correct! But a strong-backed and not-overly-thin-skinned horse may not betray a lot unless you’re really looking for it…and really looking for it can make you crazy…dangers everywhere, I guess!
Hey, I recognize that surgery cap 😉
Oh I really like it!!!!!!! Everyone gives me grief because it has dogs on it – but I don’t care because they have Tess faces!!!!!!!!! 🙂