AwareWelfare.net - Full Article
by John Crandell
Thank you to the thousands who took the time to read the first nine segments of The Rebirth of Endurance Tests, and a very special thank you the many who made the additional contribution of sharing your comments, counterpoint and perspective. This remains a very collective exploration in which I am honored to be gathering and transmitting the energy of many, past and present.
To better engage this interaction of so many readers, I am dividing what I had previously forecast to be a single chapter named Roadmap to the Future into two parts. This first part will further a more specific conversation about where we ideally want to arrive, and soon to follow a second part will then describe specific steps to get from here to there.
Forwarded to guide conversation here is an Endurance Testing Program conceptual model in flowchart format. This chart extends beyond the conventional boundaries of endurance racing to show relationship in the broader equestrian racing and distance riding communities. This is offered as a work platform for developing in the best possible compatibility with traditional ideas and institutions around the world, while allying this diversity for optimal effectiveness in supporting equine welfare.
The accuracy of projections, and the effectiveness of any action plan to bring about change can only be as good as our vision of where we intend to go.
The best path will reveal itself when we build a beacon that shines brightly together.
Interpretation and Use of the Endurance Testing Conceptual Chart
To better express the most effective functional relationship between different classes of equine distance tests, the definitions and parameters of fields in the racing side (Right) of this graphic are different than current conventions. What has lately been identified as “Limited Distance” racing in North America and by other monikers elsewhere is named here as equine Marathon, a term for racing in this range that pre-existed the more recent terminologies. The category of Endurance Race in this conceptual exercise is more specifically reserved for tests in a physiologically distinct zone beyond the range of a primary metabolic surge of effort for equines. The category Extended Marathon covers race events in the broad transition zone between Marathon and Endurance Race as defined in this conceptual exercise.
Gesturally depicted here is as expressed in earlier chapters of Rebirth of Endurance Tests ; Endurance Racing sits at the conceptual crossroads of sport and science.
Arrows indicate proposed developmental pathways. This proposal is again quite different from conventional qualification procedures or development pathways of the either AERC or FEI. It is more consistent with effective development processes in North America prior to the mid-1980’s, and with the more recent rules of events at Boudheib in Abu Dhabi. Notice that by the specific direction of the pathway arrows, the Marathon races (orange blocks) that are so popular today are not even part of the proposed ideal development pathway toward Endurance Racing. These Marathon classes are depicted here as a sport racing group (yellow/orange), which exists along the edge of the unethical, just as we have witnessed in vivo. The intent here is not to condemn all races in these classes, for there is a lot of good science that can come out of tests in this area. This does graphically express how tests in the Marathon and an Extended Marathon range can easily challenge the limits of veterinary control technologies and become unethical if we direct the test conditions to become too sensationally sporting.
The type of criterion for advancement varies according the type of test. CTR events are capable of yielding academic performance grading (AG), and this is an ideal basis for advancement criterion when available. For advancement through race classes, some variant of completion rate (CR) criterion might afford the best equine welfare protection. Example: “< 65% completion rate finishing at least three races in the top 50% of the field of competition”.
With effective rule structure, some of the criterion elements shown here might not be essential for the welfare of the horse, and should be optional at the discretion of regional governance. This might be particularly true of advancement between CTRs. When the veterinary control systems are well developed and supported by conservative test conditions, unprepared horses are reliably identified and dismissed from test early without harm. The potential for failure is then an eloquently adequate discourager of premature advancement. In fact, the more a program can be self-regulating in this manner the better. We should never use advancement criterion simply to inflate participation in events for the support of image and bureaucracy...
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