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  1. #1
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    Bonking ... not feelin' well Horse dies during Tevis Cup

    No mountain bikers to blame.

    Now its time to Take A Break: Toth, Quake win 100-mile Tevis Cup | Auburn Journal

    Seems to happen every year, yet...

  2. #2
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    Very sad. Horses that reach this level of competition are amazing animals. Having completed the Tevis twice, I fully understand the love and care these horses get from their owners. The rider must be devastated.


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    Extremely sad. But it's not an "accident" if it happens most years...

    I grew up in Kentucky, but I stopped watching the Derby when they started putting down horses on a regular basis. Plus, they abuse them and then dump them when they don't win money, just like greyhounds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    Very sad. Horses that reach this level of competition are amazing animals. Having completed the Tevis twice I fully understand the love and care these horses get from their owners. The rider must be devastated.


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    A very classy post. Well said Robert.
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    It sure is funny seeing these equestrians wearing spandex shorts and mountain bike helmets. How ironic.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    It sure is funny seeing these equestrians wearing spandex shorts and mountain bike helmets. How ironic.
    Horsey folks were wearing spandy and cute little helmets long before mt bikes were invented.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    Horsey folks were wearing spandy and cute little helmets long before mt bikes were invented.

    That sure looks like dockers and a horse helmet to me.

  8. #8
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    Horse dies during Tevis Cup

    Article had been taken down. Anybody have it archived?
    Its all ****s and Giggles until somebody Giggles and ****s

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    That's nothing, Gandalf and Pippin rode Shadowfax for 3 days to Minas Tirith non stop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brewtality View Post
    Article had been taken down. Anybody have it archived?
    My wife read me the report as we were driving up to Tahoe Saturday night. At Cougar Rock a horse slipped and fell, badly injuring it's neck. The rider was ejected but was not injured. The vet showed up and made the call that the animals injury was too severe and put it down.

    I know that rock section....I can't imagine how the other riders felt having to go by seeing a horse in serious pain, and seeing the riders grief, and still having to tackle that rock and get on with the day. Ugh.
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  11. #11
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    17 hours of riding gotta be painful toward the end.
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  12. #12
    zon
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorg View Post
    17 hours of riding gotta be painful toward the end.
    It is,, especially at my times of 21:35 and 20:15. Ya get kinda delirious.


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    zon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internal14 View Post
    My wife read me the report as we were driving up to Tahoe Saturday night. At Cougar Rock a horse slipped and fell, badly injuring it's neck. The rider was ejected but was not injured. The vet showed up and made the call that the animals injury was too severe and put it down.
    So what actually happened is the horse stalled,, as if to let the rider dismount. And then it "passed out" and fell. The rider was saved by the horses actions.
    The vets (plural) tried for 3 hours to save the horse before calling it. In the end is was described as a rare neurological condition that the horse had as horses typically don't pass out.
    And Cougar Rock is early in the race where heat is not a factor.


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  14. #14
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    My condolences to the owner of the horse. What a horrible loss.

    Just as with mountain bikers, equestrians are a greater danger to themselves than to any other trail user they encounter.
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    Interesting the void of mention an the Tevis page, or almost anywhere else.


    The little I could dig up. I'll have to ask my friends who were crewing at the race for several riders.
    "Extra time at cutoff points were extended due to the heat. 68 horses pulled by vets for metabolic stands to reasons.
    one freak accident at Cougar rock.. horse had a rare neurological condition unknown to the rider causing it to seize and fall."

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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    It is,, especially at my times of 21:35 and 20:15. Ya get kinda delirious.
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    That's a long time, especially out in the heat and sun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    So what actually happened is the horse stalled,, as if to let the rider dismount. And then it "passed out" and fell....In the end is was described as a rare neurological condition that the horse had as horses typically don't pass out.


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    Sounds similar to these goats. Shame about the horse having to be killed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the-one1 View Post
    That's nothing, Gandalf and Pippin rode Shadowfax for 3 days to Minas Tirith non stop.
    yep - Shadowfax ("Sceadufæx" in Rohirric) was the Lord of all horses.
    he was a descendant of Felaróf, of the race of the Mearas, the greatest horses of Middle-earth.

    Bonus - Shadowfax never hated on any MTB'rs (to my knowledge)
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felton_Flyer View Post
    Bonus - Shadowfax never hated on any MTB'rs (to my knowledge)
    You never know. By some accounts we are scarier than a screaming nazgul.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    It is,, especially at my times of 21:35 and 20:15. Ya get kinda delirious.
    Are horses generally slower than a mountain biker over a long distance trail?

  21. #21
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    Never good to hear of an athlete, whether it be man or animal, dying on the field of play

    Here's the account from the rider:

    "I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and condolences. I would also like to thank everyone involved in the rescue attempt of my beloved horse Reb. A special thanks to veterinarian Dr. Jamie Kerr for his guidance through this terrible tragedy.

    For those of you who did not know Reb, he was an amazing athlete that excelled at 100 mile rides. Until the Tevis Cup he had a 100% completion rate on 100s. His 100 mile accomplishments included winning the Virginia City 100 in 2012 and receiving his FEI 3* COC at Twenty Mule Team 2013 in 10 hours and 13 minutes. He also had several firsts and Best Conditions. He had almost 1,800 career miles and five 100 mile completions.

    Our Tevis journey started off great. He was truly enjoying himself as he eagerly moved down the trail that morning. While going up Cougar Rock he stopped and out of fear of him turning around and attempting to go back down I decided to do an emergency dismount. In the process his saddle slipped so once we reached the top I stopped him to pull his saddle into a safer position until I could adjust it after we got off the rock. As soon as I stopped him his head went up and his neck stiffened. He then staggered two steps to the right and went off the edge. Dr. Jamie Kerr and Dr. Gary Magdesian later informed me that this is consistent with a condition called vasovagal syncope. This condition can cause your horse to faint. Without thinking I went over the edge after him. By the time we finally stopped sliding down the edge next to the bypass we had travelled several hundred feet through pine trees, rocks and drop-offs. Throughout the course of our fall he made sure to keep his body away from me so that I was not hurt. Once we reached a flat spot where we were no longer sliding I stayed right next to his head while we waited for help.

    At first our fear was that he was paralyzed, but after further assessment he appeared to have controlled movement in all of his limbs. Once Large Animal Search and Rescue arrived on scene we were able to stabilize him while he stood up and we began our climb back up the hill. Shortly after he seemed to weaken and at that point it was decided that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury similar to a concussion. It was at this time that Dr. Kerr and I decided that euthanasia was in Reb’s best interest.

    Reb was my best friend. I know that he saved my life on Saturday and I did my best to save his. I cannot express enough how much I love this horse. He brought out the best in me and I hope that I brought out the best in him. He will forever hold a very special place in my heart."
    Could pushing a horse in those temperatures contributed to this fainting diagnosis?

    This FB thread shows the heartache rippling through the equestrian community, as well as the understanding that an accident is an accident. Where were all these sensible people when the equestrian was injured in a it-could-have-happened-anywhere-accident at the TS100 last year? (Sorry, I'm just irked that the vocal minority still uses that non-incident accident to limit mtb access ) https://www.facebook.com/permalink.p...72254949465346

    I'm surprised that helmets aren't required! Cougar Rock photos

    There was a 47% completion rate, with 27 horses pulled due to metabolic problems and 28 withdrawn due to lameness issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Are horses generally slower than a mountain biker over a long distance trail?
    Horses are slower than runners over a long distance trail. For long distance running humans are among the best or the best in the animal kingdom. Running on two legs is more efficient when looking at calorie spend. Standing upright exposes less of the body to the sun, enhancing cooling. Adding a bike just increases the efficiency that much more.

    I forget where I read about this. Main thesis of the article is that one way humans in afric used to take down game was by tiring them out. After chasing for hours the animal would just lie down and give up.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    This FB thread shows the heartache rippling through the equestrian community, as well as the understanding that an accident is an accident. Where were all these sensible people when the equestrian was injured in a it-could-have-happened-anywhere-accident at the TS100 last year? (Sorry, I'm just irked that the vocal minority still uses that non-incident accident to limit mtb access ) https://www.facebook.com/permalink.p...72254949465346
    Is that place within the wilderness?

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    Very sad to hear about this, I can't imagine how devastating that must have been. Remember these animals are very much a part of a lot of these peoples families. If my dog went tumbling down a a cliff in front of my eyes it would effect me for the rest of my days.

    I'm always amazed at the extremely low finish percentage, it's VERY rarely above 50%. I guess you can attribute that to the intensive Vet checks these animals must go through in order to continue.


    Quote Originally Posted by Axe View Post
    Is that place within the wilderness?
    No, And if the horsie community keeps messing with the TS 100 course we will be forced to go over that exact spot.

  25. #25
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    Cougar Rock? Not in Wilderness. It's between Lyon Ridge and Red Star Ridge. So, as Zon wrote, heat wasn't likely a factor in the fainting.

    This year's Tevis winner was 20 minutes faster than this year's WS100 winner, albeit slightly different courses and horses apparently have some mandatory rests. Tinker did last year's TS100 a little over 4 hours faster than both, on a considerably different course. If we ever get to do the whole WST, I'd guess the fastest times in all race formats would be fairly similar.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    Could pushing a horse in those temperatures contributed to this fainting diagnosis?
    There was someone pointing out that the spot in question is not that far from the start, so heat would not have played into picture yet.

    Reading through her account, that was a stupid decision to go over the cliff after the horse. I guess she loved her horse that much, and I can totally understand. Happy to see she didn't get hurt, or died! Yikes.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    ...

    Could pushing a horse in those temperatures contributed to this fainting diagnosis?

    ....There was a 47% completion rate, with 27 horses pulled due to metabolic problems and 28 withdrawn due to lameness issues.
    Cougar rock is in the first 25 miles of the race and it is still very cool out at that point. I usually still had my jacket on when we got to that point.

    The vets are hard core when it comes to the safety of the horses on these races. After your horse gates into a vet check, (several on the Tevis) , it has 15 minutes to recover, pulse below 60 usually and respiration below 15. They also check hydration and overall disposition of the animal. Then you do a trot out to check for lameness. Any little hitch in the get-along and you are pulled. It's very well controlled and on a ride like the Tevis more so.

    As riders you become an near expert of equine physiology, you have to do these events. From nutrition to training and conditioning you have to do it well. It takes months and even years to get a horse Tevis ready. You also have to qualify, they just don't let anybody do it. They pull on average 50% of the horses because their number 1 priority is the health of the horse.
    These horses are amazing athletes, they are the Tinker Juarez's of the horse world. And there owners by and large work their (the owners) asses off to get them in that condition. They want to complete the toughest endurance race in the world the same reason we like to complete some of the toughest mt bike races in the world, it's in our blood.

    Here's a pic of me and my Appy "Sundown" at Cougar Rock during the 1986 Tevis, the year I completed it in 21:35. Helmets were not required then but they are now on all endurance races. Lot of memories.

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    Thanks, Zon.
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    Nice Zon! You did better than this fella!

    Horse dies during Tevis Cup-395254_4801324355750_1306183292_n.jpg

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    Cool photo Zon, that horse looks really fit.

    I think it was Jim Northey that told me that these days the folks that win, actually dismount and run out ahead of the horse in the tech sections, they have trained there horses to follow them.
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    Wow, super cool photo Zon. Your horse looks top notch there and you've got some good form too. When you're charging up steep loose rock like that are you always prepared for your horse to stumble? Or is that a rare thing and you just stay committed and hold your line? I've only ridden horses on easy terrain so I never once felt like they could miss a step but seeing that picture gives me the heebyjeebies.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeBC View Post
    Cool photo Zon, that horse looks really fit.

    I think it was Jim Northey that told me that these days the folks that win, actually dismount and run out ahead of the horse in the tech sections, they have trained there horses to follow them.
    That's what I did as well. I would run the down hills to give the horse a break and tail him out of the canyons such as swinging bridge to Devils Thumb. Tailing is walking behind them, grabbing ahold of their tail and letting them pull you up the hills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beaverbiker View Post
    ... When you're charging up steep loose rock like that are you always prepared for your horse to stumble? Or is that a rare thing and you just stay committed and hold your line? ....
    You just grab a bunch of mane, center yourself and get off the saddle and let the horse go. Notice the reigns are slack? The horse will do the rest, they want to survive. The trick is to learn to trust the horse. They have amazing instincts and are very agile in rough terrain. You just give them their head and go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post
    Tailing is walking behind them, grabbing ahold of their tail and letting them pull you up the hills.
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    Ever get crapped on doing that ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeBC View Post
    Ever get crapped on doing that ?
    Never, my ponies have manners.


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    Quote Originally Posted by zon View Post

    I really didn't give that shot the credit it deserves. What a perfect moment of balance on a fine athlete.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    I really didn't give that shot the credit it deserves. What a perfect moment of balance on a fine athlete.
    Thanks Mike. Sundown was an amazing horse. He was old time appy out of Montana Nez Perce lines. In a sport dominated by Arabs he was a standout. That said,, my dogon Arabs were phenomenal horses. It's no wonder they dominate the sport.


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    I've completed Tevis with my horse 2X, and have either volunteered, crewed for other riders, or did photography at the ride about 15-18 years.

    Cougar Rock used to not have what they call the 'bypass' trail, but it was put in about 15 or so years ago, to give riders an option. The history of the ride, starting in 1955 is that going over Cougar Rock was part of the ride, and some still feel that is part of the experience. The bypass trail is not without hazards, and is very narrow, wall on one side, drop on the other.

    Riders must have 300 miles worth of previous competitions of 50 or more miles to be eligible to enter Tevis. The horses who enter this ride are at the top of their game, and Kellys horse, Reb, excelled at 100 mile rides.

    As posted above, they feel that the horse had an unknown medical condition, causing this "fainting" episode. But we will never really know.

    The horses are checked in some manner by the vets approx every 10 miles, and they have two mandatory rest holds of an hour each, besides the other pulse and metabolic checks along the way. At these checks, they provide food and water for the horses and riders.

    Many of the riders get off an lead the horses down into the canyons, and "tail" which is grabbing the horses tail and having the horse pull the rider uphill out of the canyons. The top riders most likely run about 1/3rd of the ride.

    Each year, Tevis has about 800-1200 volunteers out there along the route. Just like your competitions, they would not happen without these volunteers taking the time to come out an help. If you are in the Auburn area, both the Western States run, and Tevis are always looking for folks to help.

    Oh, we ride in tights, like runners wear to prevent rubbing, and because they come in bright colors. Some of our tack is now made out of bright colored biothane, as it wears well, easier to clean than leather, and most wear helmets, although not required.

    And last, a horse does not "die every year". But when one does, it of course makes the news, as it is a high profile event. Consider that horses are hurt or killed out on trails yearly from accidents while out riding for pleasure, just like I'm sure Mountain bikers get hurt or killed while out riding for fun. But when it happens at a big event, it makes the news. Shoot, horses get themselves in trouble in their own pastures.

    Ride safe.....

    ( and even tho I do not ride bikes, I do believe we need to work on multi use trails where safe, and I make sure my horse is trained to know what bikes are)

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    ^ thanks for joining the conversation! Long time lurker, eh? And thanks for the insights. I wish people would focus on the vast amount of common ground we all share as trail users, instead of the things that create an "us vs. them" mentality.

    It's awesome that somebody dreamed up a one day, 100 mile horse race from Tahoe to Auburn on the WST many years ago. It's awesome that somebody dreamed up a one day 100 mile running race from Tahoe to Auburn on the WST many years ago. Why the relatively new dream of a one day, 100 mile bicycle race from Tahoe to Auburn on the WST gets some equestrians in a tizzy confuses me.

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    I'm stoked I read this thread. Learned a lot I didn't know about these types of events. Zon, that picture is bad ass.
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    I do not live in the area, but know some of those that do, get their riding tights in a wad about bikes on the "wrong" trails. When pre-riding from the fairgrounds out to no hands bridge a couple years ago, we came across a couple bikes who were on a trail they were not to be on. (we didn't know this, and didn't care) We stopped and chatted awhile. I see no issues with a bike race on the trail. It is not like the other trail users would not know it was going to be happening. But some feel that they would be out there pre-riding, and I admit, some of those sections are pretty dang narrow and dangerous to meet another user coming towards you. Horse, hiker, or what ever.

    But both sides need to work together, to keep trails open. Volunteer! Show you are there for the trail now, and its future. Unfortunately we have users in all groups who do not see the big picture of working together. They think that their sport is the only sport.... See how that works for you when trails are closed, and NO one is allowed to use them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoofprints View Post
    And last, a horse does not "die every year". But when one does, it of course makes the news, as it is a high profile event. Consider that horses are hurt or killed out on trails yearly from accidents while out riding for pleasure, just like I'm sure Mountain bikers get hurt or killed while out riding for fun. But when it happens at a big event, it makes the news. Shoot, horses get themselves in trouble in their own pastures.
    Well, it appears that at least 6 horses have now died in the history of the event, although exact numbers of fatalities, much less injuries, are mysteriously difficult to obtain... Even so, that's not comparable to any mountain bike race. And it appears that in recent history about 1/2 of the horses are pulled mid-race by vets because of medical issues. Again, not remotely comparable to mountain biking, but quickly approaching animal cruelty.

    Regardless, another big difference is that the horses don't have a choice, right? It's not like they're asking to put their lives on the line for a buckle or ribbon. If these were dogs (I look at horses like they're big dogs, and neither one was designed to ride) that were dying and being injured, people would be up in arms trying to make changes to the race and/or course. I don't know why horses are considered expendable.

    As a comparison, look at the endurance event that was just held in Wilder-Cowell. While it was only 1/2 the distance, I'm not aware of any "pulled" horses or injuries--much less deaths. Of course it wasn't held on a technical, exposed singletrack in searing heat that would guarantee bad outcomes. And I'm sure the ego factor was a fraction of that in the Tevis race, as that's what drives most riders in those types of extreme events (guilty).

    I don't expect any real changes to come about because of this year's "accident", but let's not be naive about it or try to paint a rosy picture of a fairly brutal--from the horse's perspective--experience. And, again, if horses/riders can't deal with other users on multi-use singletrack, then perhaps they should stick to wide, safe fireroads. If you disagree with me, fine. But look at again at the picture in post #29. Who do you feel sorry for? I feel sorry for the horse for being put in that situation. If I were that horse, I would have tossed that schmuck off the mountain and trotted back to my pasture. Game over!



    Sent from my Curmudgeon Couch using MyBrain.

    EDIT: First of all, Ms. Prints, I've had nothing but good encounters with equines. But I know where we (mtb-ers) are on the totem pole, and I know how things go down when the meadow muffins hit the fan. Rationalize it anyway that you want, but if you're going to equate Tevis with people camping, then we'll just have to agree to disagree. Happy trails. As for Zon and your threats: Whatever, cuz. I don't care either (throws mic down and walks off stage). Unsubscribed. Flame on.
    Last edited by dirtvert; 07-25-2013 at 08:06 AM.
    Friends don't let friends ride e-"bikes". Just say eff no.

  43. #43
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    There have been almost 10,000 starters on this ride since the first ride in1955. The ride has always had a finish rate of about 50%. Just because a horse is "pulled" from the ride, does not mean it was severely compromised. I am not saying some aren't, as they can be in a great metabolic distress, but most are pulled before they get that bad. Vets are checking the horses hydration levels, gut mobility, attitude, and if they have any lameness issues. They check for any rubs from the tack or saddle, and will pull the horse if it is not fit to continue. And as I said before, we do not have the numbers on horses who die while people are out for a weekend camping trip some place, but I know of some. It does not take an event for bad things to happen.

    I had a horse break his back in his own pasture. He was running, slipped, and fell. Horses colic (stomach ache) and die daily, without ever leaving where they live. I am not saying that endurance riding s not without risk, but most of the riders have done careful conditioning, and the horses do enjoy going down the trail. Of course, given a choice, all horses, from the show ring, to race horses would really prefer to stay home and eat and get fat more than anything.

    Horses and riders sharing single track trails with any other user can be a risk for BOTH users. But when you add the increased speed of a trotting horse, and a bike moving quickly, if they meet on a single track with a drop off, and both have to stop quickly, both can be at risk of going off the edge.

    I'm sorry Dirtvert that it seems you fall into the category of not wanting to work WITH all trail users. And, guessing you have met the horses users who get hysterical when they see a bike on the trail. We are not all that way, and many of us do try to educate them to multi use, but its also a 2 way street...

  44. #44
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    During 24 hour mountain bike races I've seen helicopters flying out injured riders...riders on IV fluids....multiple injuries (broken bones, stitches, etc)...every once in a blue moon a rider will die racing a 24 hour race.

    I've had heat exhaustion, hallucinations, falling asleep on my bike, severe cramps....vomiting while racing endurance

    just par for course in long distance/duration events IMO



    * yes, I was a complete pansy when I used to race
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  45. #45
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    Hoofprints, apparently you have trained his horses to not be spooked by bikes. Anyway you can go to Marin and teach other fellow equestrians how to do the same? Would make life a lot easier (and safer) for everyone.
    Faster is not always better, but it's always more fun

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtvert View Post
    .. Even so, that's not comparable to any mountain bike race. And it appears that in recent history about 1/2 of the horses are pulled mid-race by vets because of medical issues. Again, not remotely comparable to mountain biking, but quickly approaching animal cruelty.
    ....

    ...
    Wrong wrong wrong. Can I emphasize that any more? Endurance horses are some of the most pampered, trained and well fed horses on the planet. They have such a high pull rate exactly for the opposite reason you suggest. They are pulled at the first,, let me say that again, FIRST sign of distress, trouble or lameness.
    There is no incentive in endurance racing to abuse your horse, no money and most of the time just a t shirt or some other trinket. The motto of endurance racing is "To finish is to win". Abuse is extremely rare. Those riders don't last long at all. They are weeded out pretty quickly by the strenuous requirements just to enter the sport and by vets and peers.
    Do me a favor, don't speculate on that of which you know nothing about. It pisses me off and you don't want to piss of an old fart cause we don t care.

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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM View Post
    During 24 hour mountain bike races I've seen helicopters flying out injured riders...riders on IV fluids....multiple injuries (broken bones, stitches, etc)...every once in a blue moon a rider will die racing a 24 hour race.

    I've had heat exhaustion, hallucinations, falling asleep on my bike, severe cramps....vomiting while racing endurance

    just par for course in long distance/duration events IMO



    * yes, I was a complete pansy when I used to race
    How many have you had to shoot when they break a leg or collapse?

    This thread is fairly ridiculous. The horse didn't die. Someone killed it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    How many have you had to shoot when they break a leg or collapse?

    This thread is fairly ridiculous. The horse didn't die. Someone killed it.
    my sarcastic meter may be broken....but did you just compare the euthanizing of an animal to that of killing an injured human?
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM View Post
    my sarcastic meter may be broken....but did you just compare the euthanizing of an animal to that of killing an injured human?
    Yes, there was loads of sarcasm in there, but there's also something troubling with "sports" where when there's an injury the animal must be killed. Why do that to animals?
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  50. #50
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    Wow, I'm late to this thread but thought I'd chime in. This is part anecdotal and part philosophical so please bear with me....

    Once upon a time back in nineteenmumblemumble I was a professional horse trainer. Part of my clientele were endurance riders and I trained some horses and riders whose primary interest was long distance events. I didn't compete myself, but my students did. I think a lot of riders enter these events with the intention to go as far as they can safely, like many mountain bikers do in 24 hour events. It might be a race but you aren't actually racing. You aren't sure you are going to finish, you aren't damned determined to finish, but you enter and go into it with your expectations set at "have a good time, do as much as I can, come home safe." If riders are training to do endurance events they know how far they have gone in the past, what their times were, whether they are likely to do well in the event they've registered for or not, etc.

    I believe that many of the horses pulled from endurance events are pulled with the owner/rider and vet in agreement. It's not our day today, let's just stop now while we are doing OK. I'm sure some pull out because the rider isn't up to it, while the horse is probably fine to go on. These are all lumped together with horses pulled strictly by the vet's decision as non-finishers.

    Horses can have a lot of "go" that is simply in their genes, and to suggest that riding them long distances is cruel and a brutal experience for the horse is just... I dunno... what is the word I'm looking for... inflammatory? I had horses of my own, when I first started riding and didn't know what I was doing, that I could barely control - I would get taken for a ride, at the speed the horse chose and there was really nothing I could do about it. The horse chose that. It's not like I was kicking it going giddy up! I tried to get its head pointed in the right direction and to talk some sense into it to perhaps slow down a bit, but as a kid I got hauled around hanging onto the mane a lot more than I ever wanted to admit. My first eventing horse was named "Rapid Transit". Finally as I entered adulthood I learned how to ride, but in the meantime I learned a lot about a horse's will power and determination to move and keep moving.

    I feel horribly for the rider at the Tevis, as I do for the rider in Marin. And for the horses. Tragic horrible endings for all involved and just heartbreaking.

    My good friend Jim Owen died on a bike ride. He started out in apparently excellent health. His heart gave out suddenly and his friend who was waiting at the top of the climb got concerned when he didn't show up for a long while, he went back down to find him lifeless on the side of the road. Jim died doing what he loved. He was out in the fresh air, under the trees, breathing in, breathing out, and then he stopped breathing.

    As the cowboys say "Died with his boots on"

    Horses who love trail riding are as into it as you and I are. They don't consider it brutal, even when it burns. It's a good kind of burn and as athletes I think they get as much out of it as we do. Who the hell wants to die in a stall or a dusty corral? Come on, let's get out!

    Animals can't enunciate but that doesn't mean they cannot communicate and be well understood by those who pay attention. My 9-year old dog Reba, in earlier years, would have her face hanging out the window, ears flapping, whining incessantly on the way to Soquel Demo begging me to get there sooner!!!!! She used to race me down Ridge Trail in Demo, and win (I'm not a slow descender). And then drop me on the climb out, come back, do laps around me, drop me again, rinse repeat. I swear she would mock me. 18 miles on four paws and I can assure you she didn't think it was brutal. Back in the parking lot she wanted to play fetch and all I wanted was a beer. Nowadays I live on a private dead-end 2-mile dirt road with 1000 feet of climbing to get home. I get out to check the mail at the bottom and ask her if she wants to ride, or run? 80% of the time she still chooses run, and gets out and starts her way home outside the car instead of inside. Her choice. I put the car in first and follow her.

    I truly believe that animals can be just as passionate about getting out for a trail ride as we are, and they want, need, and thrive when they get the chance to go. I can't criticize anyone for giving their horse the good life and living it fully.
    "...So forget all your duties, oh yeah! Fat bottomed girls, they'll be riding today..." Freddie Mercury

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