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  • Writer's pictureSanoma Blakeley

Pro Tips: Vetcheck Efficency

Sanoma's Vet Check Tips

Tip #1: Have Your Vet Card Ready

One of the simplest ways to save time when coming into a vet check is by having your vet card out, unfolded and ready to hand to the in-timers. It can be frustrating to have to dig around to find your vet card when you are standing in front of the in-timer! This will also help reduce congestion if a group of horses comes in at the same time, as it will keep the in-time line moving more smoothly. I like to pull my vet card out while I am still mounted, so once I dismount, I can be ready to move on to my next task in preparing for my hold.

Tip #2: Save Time Prior to Pulsing

Something I have found helpful is saving as much time prior to pulsing as possible. Once you have your hold time, you can take as much time as you need, but try to limit what you accomplish before pulsing.

A few tips that can improve your horse’s recovery:

DO train your horse’s cardiovascular fitness. Lew Hollander’s book "Endurance Racing, From Beginning to Winning" has some helpful suggestions for training your horse's cardiovascular system to improve recovery times.

DO dismount and hand walk your horse into the vet check to save time and lower the horse’s pulse.

DO lower your horse’s head to lower their heart rate.

DO cool with water and remove tack (depending on temperature and hold time).

DON'T let your horse rub on you or the pulser. You shouldn’t allow your horse to rub on you during training rides so they won’t attempt it when they are pulsing at a ride.

Tip #3: Go Straight to the Vet After Your Hold Time Has Started

Once your horse’s heart rate has reached pulse criteria and your hold time has started, I recommend going straight to the vet. Personally, I like the peace of mind of knowing my horse is doing well. Going straight to the vet after reaching pulse criteria can also prevent your horse from stiffening up if the weather is cooler, and if the vet sees a gait irregularity, you will have time to figure out the cause.

A few tips when presenting your horse to the vet:

Teach your horse how to trot out at your side. If your horse doesn’t trot out well, it can make it difficult for the vet to assess their gait. Also, pulling on your horse’s head or dragging on their lead can cause them to look a little off.

Make sure your horse is respectful of the vets. Don’t let them rub their head on the vets. If possible, try to ensure your horse stands still when the vet is performing their examination.

Tip #4: Be Prepared Before the Ride

If possible, lay out everything that you will need during your hold before the ride. You don’t want to spend your hold time digging through your trailer for your electrolytes or snacks.

Tip #5: Help Your Horse Relax

Make sure your horse eats during the hold and is as relaxed as possible. Some horses do best if you can pull them to the side, away from the bustle of the vet check.

Tip# 6: Take Care of Yourself and Breathe!

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It is easy to get so absorbed with feeding your horse and making sure they are doing well that you forget to eat and drink yourself.

Take a deep breath and relax. Even if you are riding competitively, your horse will feed off your excitement, so try to be as calm as possible.

Sanoma's Vet Check Routine

Before the ride, I set up my hold area if it is an in-camp hold. I like to set out hay and grain for my horse as well as some snacks and water for myself. If the hold is early in the morning when it is still cold, I will set a cooler or blanket by the vet check area.

When I’m riding and I see the vet check, I pull out my vet card then dismount when I am close enough. While walking towards the vet check, I remove my horse’s bridle and jog alongside my horse into the vet check on foot. With my vet card already out, I can go straight to the in-timers, and once I have my in-time written on my card, I go to the water trough and let my horse drink. Depending on the temperature and hold time, I will cool my horse while he drinks and pull his tack off so that once he is done drinking, I can head straight to the pulsers.

Once my horse has reached pulse criteria, depending on the length of the vet line, I will either grab a flake of hay to let my horse eat while we wait in line, or go straight to the vet. After vetting through, I like to take my horse to a quiet spot and let him eat while I rearrange my tack and take care of everything that needs to be done. Time always goes quickly and sometimes it takes longer to get ready than you realize, so I give myself plenty of time to get ready to head out again. You and your horse should feel reenergized and ready to hit the trail again as you leave the vet check.

Closing Thoughts

We hope you learned a trick or two from Sanoma for your next endurance ride, so your vet check can be more efficient and courteous towards the crew! Training your horse for the discipline of endurance takes hard work; integrating these tips into your regimen will help you get a routine narrowed down, so you and your horse know what to expect at vet checks. Do you have certain riding goals you are hoping to achieve with your equine partner? We invite you to also check out Sanoma's advice on turning riding dreams into reality! Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact our customer service team at 1(800)620-9145 or for assistance. Happy riding!


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