Monday August 8 2011
Veterinarian Melissa Ribley kindly provided an article in Endurance News a couple of years ago elucidating pull codes for horses and riders on endurance rides:
M – Metabolic
L – Lameness
OT – Overtime
SF – Surface Factors
Then there’s the RO – Rider Option, when there is nothing wrong with the horse and it has been cleared by a vet, but the rider wishes to pull; RO-L, when the horse has been cleared by the vet, but the rider feels there may be some lameness issue, and RO-M, when the horse has been cleared by the vet but the rider feels there may be some metabolic issue.
After my recollection of some old records where a tough-as-nails, highly competitive endurance rider I used to know had an inordinate number of Rider Option pulls (granted, this was before the RO-L and RO-M were implemented), where I knew there was no way this rider would ever willingly quit a ride when the horse was fine, it comes to my mind that there needs to be a little more detailed clarification of the RO codes.
I propose the following additions to the pull codes, and none of these should be ridiculed by other riders (well, except for RO-IC):
RO-ITDC – It’s Too Damn Cold. Well, for some sunny southern California fair weather types, sometimes it is just too damn cold to be out there riding 50 or (you gotta be kidding me) 100 miles when the mercury hovers around 35* and it’s spitting rain or sleet and the wind is howling 35 mph (known as a “35-35 day” or comparatively, even harsher, a “30-30 day” for the tough hides in Wyoming used to this sort of weather nonsense), when one could just as easily circle the next ride on the calendar in 2 weeks’ time a hundred miles and 2000’ of elevation further south, while one is sitting by a fire sipping hot toddies, instead of becoming a miserable popsicle on a horse for up to 24 hours. BEWARE, however, of abusing this code, when Dave Rabe is in the ride. If he is wearing a long-sleeved shirt under his tank top, you may be right, it’s darn cold, but are you man (or woman) enough to pull yourself and your horse with RO-ITDC even wearing your 5 layers of clothing, when he’s riding beside you in shorts?
RO-IGP – I’m Gonna Puke. Now, this does not necessarily separate the girls from the women and the boys from the men. If you feel like you are going to puke, sure, you can probably do it from your horse, but, let’s face it, it is really no fun to do it from the back of a horse moving 7 – 20 mph, and if you really are going to puke, you are probably not doing your horse any favors because you are probably not sitting him correctly (bending over to try to miss both of you), and if you are bending over trying to do this at 20 mph you may likely fall off. (And then you might be able to opt for the RO-BB pull code, see below). There are those who will tough it out, make it to a vet check, and puke there, but it is perfectly acceptable to pull with a RO-IGP, because after all, most of us are in this sport to have fun, and not to compare most mileage accomplished while feeling worst of anybody. I have not yet seen regional awards handed out for this exploit. A few tips on preventative for this pull code: do not eat a bowl of beans the night before a 100. Do not feel obligated to eat several slices of cake or handfuls of cookies at every single refreshment point on a 100 mile trail where volunteers hand out goodies.
RO-HGC – Horse Gone Crazy. This is not only an acceptable pull, but one that may save your life and those of others on the trail. And yes, this can happen to any normally calm horse on any given ride.
RO-BTDT – Been There Done That. This one is a little iffy – I mean, if you start a ride that you have done before, and in the middle of it you decide you’re bored with the trail, you really shouldn’t have entered again, should you?
RO-BB – Broken Bones (yours or the horse, before or during the ride). ‘Nuff said.
RO-HBL – Hopelessly Beyond Lost. If it’s a pitch black night under a thick forest canopy, and there are approximately 40 glowbars covering the entire 100 mile trail, and you and fellow riders have been wandering astray and disoriented for hours, and you have collapsed in an exhausted heap and are content to just stay there and die on the trail, this is a perfectly acceptable pull. (If you are found before you die).
RO-DOD – Disappeared or Dead. This code is only for those who are never found after an RO-HBL ride, and hopefully will never be used.
RO-IC – I’m Cheating. Either you cut trail and know you will be the recipient of a lodged protest; you switched similar-looking horses in the middle of the ride and you know someone is onto you; you carelessly blew others off a trail to get ahead, at much danger to them; or you administered your horse illegal drugs and you see there is a state pee tester at the first vet check who you know by your luck will stick that cup under your horse next time. You better take this pull code. Now.
RO-IJCTIA(AIDHT) – I Just Can’t Take It Anymore (And I Don’t Have To). This could refer to: the lame annoying riders around you (because you, of course, are decidedly not); aches and pains too numerous for massive doses of ibuprofen to take care of; realizing on your first endurance ride that this sport and everybody in it is, truly, insane; you’ve been unceremoniously dumped once, or twice, or more (on the same day); or little combinations of the above RO pull codes. Or, you’ve just had enough today, period. This is perfectly acceptable; we all hit the wall sooner or later.
I believe these additional pull codes will help make clear for nosy people the real reasons riders choose “RO” - Rider Option. Let’s help keep our sport open and honest, so we all have plenty to talk and tease others about. Ride managers can help by typing up little cheat RO note cards for riders to carry with their rider cards and maps for quick and easy reference coming into vet checks.
This photo by Steve Bradley!
**This article was originally published in Endurance News, April 2006