September 13 2018
by Jessica Lemmons Harmon
WEG 2018 from a front row view:
I signed up as a volunteer vet scribe at WEG 2018. Lucky for me, I was the extra vet scribe which meant I was on ‘hot standby’ IN the vet gate. I was there to give breaks to any scribe that needed one, but 99% of the time I just watched everything up close and personal. As everyone knows, I attended this ride to see a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP￼💪🏻￼💪🏻￼💪🏻, and to open my eyes to any possible cheating taking place. I know there have been numerous rumors circulating about Rider #3. I saw EVERYTHING that happened at that vet check with that rider. Rider #3 did NOT go back out on course after the 25 mile (40km) ‘warm up’ loop. I am EXTREMELY PROUD of the FEI veterinarians for how they handled that particular situation, and the events of the entire day. Those FEI veterinarians are hands down the most professional, no BS group of people I’ve had the privilege of working with. This particular incident was the ONLY possible FEI rule violation ‘issue’ I saw all day long.
At approximately 5:30PM I was reassigned to the vet gate exit. The two FEI officials responsible for escorting horses to the Treatment Barn needed another person. In my brief 15 minute stay, I helped escort 5 horses to the Treatment Barn.
There are endurance riders and endurance jockeys in ALL countries. AERC/USEF/FEI cannot police *what type* of rider is allowed to attend a World Championship. Unfortunately, all FEI can do is be well prepared for more horses to enter the Treatment Barn when ride conditions are at extremes. I’m 50/50 on what happened yesterday. My heart literally BREAKS (I was crying physical tears) for the endurance horse/rider combinations still competing. The time, money, emotional energy, time off work, and countless other sacrifices made that were wasted is gut-wrenching. The decision to call off the ride punished the true endurance riders that were persevering. However, I 110% understand the decision to discontinue the ride. I helped escort 5 horses in 15 minutes to the Treatment Barn. Horses were being compromised at an exceptionally high rate. It is my belief that the Veterinary Committee was truly concerned about horse welfare, and the Treatment Barn having adequate care for the abundant amount of horses being received. The Tawqeet app shows 16 METABOLIC pulls, and 2 ‘in the clinic’ — that was before the ride was called off. Horses that came in off trail after the cancellation still had to be vetted. Some of those horses were not doing well, and more had to be sent to the Treatment Barn.
I‘m very disheartened by the fact that the ride had to be cancelled. My heart goes out to all those horses and riders that were still in it. I’m so proud of those riders and horses that evaluated the course, made the choice to slow down, take care of their partner, adapted to the HUGE obstacles thrown their way, and were STILL fit to continue. They are the real champions of Endurance, and deserved better.
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