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Cuckson Report | February 22, 2016
Well, as an American endurance chum put it, that was as useful as a bucket of warm spit.
I don’t know a single sceptic who wouldn’t have been ecstatic to be proved wrong about the efficacy of the “strong new measures” put in place on February 13th for the remainder of the UAE winter season.
There has been no dancing for joy this week among the “clean” endurance community, though. The FEI’s stated aim is to reduce the speeds associated with catastrophic injury. But at the first two rides last week under the “new” constraints, some of the fastest aggregate speeds of any national or FEI 120km ride this season were recorded, with completion rates as dire as ever.
Endurance is about training horses for recovery, and thus a mystery to most other horse disciplines. I have only recently grasped enough of it to appreciate why the correlation is so fascinating and absorbing to those who love classic endurance.
But in the UAE, it’s taken to extremes. They can afford to buy the very best selectively-bred Arabian super-horses. Their agents round the world target horses who are not just fast but that can present at vet gates within minutes, a trait the UAE trainers then refine through methods the rest of us can only imagine.
But presumably the FEI’s own endurance experts don’t understand it, because otherwise they would have foreseen this: if you set a lower heart recovery rate (60bpm in final loop compared with 64 before), but with no other complementary constraint as enacted at Bou Thib, riders will simply delay a few minutes in presenting, having belted along even faster on the loops!...
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