The endurance team and individual competitions are part of the kick-off events for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Wednesday, September 12. Thomas R. Timmons, DVM, is President Vet Commission 3 – Endurance at the WEG Tryon 2018. Timmons is an FEI Licensed Veterinarian in Endurance. He travels internationally for veterinary assignments at FEI-level endurance competitions.
We caught up with Timmons just before WEG Tryon 2018 and asked him a few questions.
Q. What are your official title and job duties at WEG Tryon 2018?
A. I’m the President of the Veterinary Commission (PVC), Endurance. PVC duties are primarily administration and delegation of veterinary matters — equine health, welfare and safety as it relates to climate, course and vet-gate. Similar duties are shared with the Foreign Veterinary Delegate (FVD) at many levels; however, the FVD is more focused on technical matters relative to adequate facilities and establishment for treatment, stabling, equine identification, international movement of horses and disease prevention and control.
Operating conditions in the vet-gate such as trot surfaces and examination procedure fall within the scope of the PVC. Decisions regarding the competition before and during are made in conjunction with the Technical Delegate, President of the Ground Jury, Chief Steward and the Foreign Veterinary Delegate.
Q. Tell us a little about your personal and professional background.
A. I was born in Washington and raised in Oregon in the only hyphenated town/city in the U.S. Milton-Freewater. The town was backed up against the Blue Mountains, and it was a perfect place to grow up on a horse, ranching and roaming Eastern Oregon. From the start, I had a plan to become a horse veterinarian, and little did I know where it would lead. I’ve been practicing equine veterinarian for 27 years and am a partner at Rogue Equine Hospital in Eagle Point, Oregon. I have served on various AAEP committees and I’m a member of Veterinary Management Group IX; I enjoy organized veterinary medicine and the business. It is convenient that winter is slow for equine practice and good for family travel, along with salt water fly fishing and diving in far-off places. I also enjoy wilderness packing and general pleasure riding in the summer months in Southern Oregon.
Q. What is your experience with international endurance events?
A. I served as: Veterinary Commission Member at 2008 Malaysia WEC; 2010 Kentucky WEG; 2012 UK WEC; FVD 2011 Uruguay PanAm; President Veterinary Commission 2004 NAC, Maryland; Team Veterinarian for Japan 2014, Normandy WEG, US 2006 Germany WEG and US 2004 Chile PanAm. I travel approximately once each month for CEIs, anywhere from Korea to Italy, Canada to Chile.
Q. Who is on your WEG vet team and what is your team responsible for?
A. Per current schedule, below is the list of veterinarians of the Endurance Veterinary Commission.
Kieran O’ Brien, (IRL) - Foreign Veterinary Delegate; Guillermo Arnal (ESP); Frederic Barrelet (SWI); Bobby Surendra Babu Bangalore (IND); Donald Larry Hamilton (CAN); Antonia Mota Periera (POR); Antonio Farrim (POR); Anthony Noel Parsons (NZL); Gerson Acedo Vieira (BRA); Greg Ghyoros (FRA); Antoine Seguin (FRA); Yassmine Motemri (TUN); Dennis Seymore (USA); Gian Paolo Teobaldelli (ITA).
Endurance Veterinary Treating Officials: Martha Mary Misheff (USA) - President of Veterinary Treating Officials; Lynne Johnson (USA); Michael Vanzwol (USA); Iciar Tarancon Heras (ESP); Maria Cristina Garcia Cantu (UAE); and Eduardo Gascon Bayarri (ESP).
Commission veterinarians will be responsible for evaluation of entered horses at the First Exam from a general health perspective and subsequent inspections during the competition, in addition to overall health and welfare. Horses are removed from the competition as indicated and based on recommendation to the ground jury by the veterinary commission members.
The 100 MI/160 KM cross country course will be divided into 5 phases, with each phase ending with a metabolic, musculoskeletal and gait inspection/evaluation by a commission veterinarian. After a horse successfully completes the inspection, it proceeds to a designated area for rest, rehydration and general recovery for a set or mandatory period of 40-50 minutes. At the latter two phases, commission veterinarians inspect all horses before they go out on course. The criteria used during the evaluation of all horses is set in advance by the PVC, within the guidelines of the rules of the discipline.
Endurance Veterinary Treating Officials have vast experience in treating the unique metabolic conditions of the endurance horse, should problems occur on competition day. When a horse is removed from competition, the treating team of veterinarians perform an in-depth evaluation and determine if treatment is indicated, and by what means. In most cases, basic fluid and electrolyte replacement is all that is required, and mostly for the purpose of safety and welfare. Regardless, a topnotch and fully-staffed hospital is at the ready in the event of need.
Q. What is the toughest job at an international endurance event such as this?
A. Constant vigilance for necessary changes and adjustments leading up to the competition, during the competition and after. The “after” being that all horses are treated as indicated. The number of moving parts in the background, never seen or witnessed by the casual observer, is staggering. The success of a competition is so dependent on good working relationships, with egos and agendas left at the entrance. Adjustment to factors outside of our control, such as heat, humidity, torrential rain or lightning, can prove challenging when horses are out on course. In addition to the above, the politics of international equine sports can be among the most daunting, let alone navigating the rules and regulations of various countries, shipping requirements and health standards.
Q. How did the test event go? Any health concerns or things that will be changed or tweaked during competition based on those experiences?
A. The endurance test event was very successful. Horses exited the competition safely and in good health. Though several horses were removed from the competition, none were of serious concern. The facilities and venue as a whole were excellent, while the course was noted as technical and beautiful by many foreign riders, which is a huge compliment to the course designer. All facets of the competition came into place and operated as designed and expected.
Q. What is your role in the IVEC Conference held during WEG? Can you tell me more about the Conference?
A. The International Veterinary Endurance Conference is a unique scientific program focused on the endurance horse, ranging from exercise physiology to nutrition, genetics to sports medicine. My role this year is focused on support as a host country, logistics and organization. I have no time to speak as my duties at the venue will preclude any other participation.
Q. What else would you like to add about the WEG Tryon 2018 endurance competition or competitors?
A. The endurance competition should prove to be interesting from a spectator perspective. It is the first time since Kentucky that Endurance will take place on the same venue as other disciplines, making it practical to observe the vet-gate action. Though the course is a huge factor in terms of “field of play”, competitors gain or lose significant advantage in the vet-gate.
Info About WEG
The FEI World Equestrian Games is held every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle. However, WEG has more equine competitions and competitors than the Olympics because it combines eight World Championships at one event. The eight equestrian disciplines that will be contested at WEG are: jumping, dressage, para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining. An anticipated 1,000 athletes, 1,500 horses, and 500,000 spectators from more than 70 countries are expected to attend, according to the WEG website.
NBC will be providing coverage of the WEG Tryon 2018. All of their coverage will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. There will also be coverage streamed on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app.
You can find out about the U.S. endurance competitors and their horses here: https://www.uset.org/us-equestrian-names-u-s-endurance-squad-fei-world-equestrian-games-tryon-2018/.
For those of you who might be interested in the International Veterinary Endurance Conference (IVEC) on September 9, following is the schedule of events. You can learn more at http://ivec.info/.
Sessions — Topic Speaker
8.30-8.45 — Opening of IVEC II Martha Misheff (USA, UAE)
8.45-9.15 — Most relevant scientific publications in endurance 2016-2018 Albert Sole Guitart (ESP-CAT, AUS)
9.15-10.00 — New insights into myopathies of the endurance horse Stephanie Valberg (USA)
10.00-10.45 — Endurance riding in South Africa: History, trends and treatments Marc Walton (RSA)
10.45-11.15 — Coffee Break
11.15-12.00 — Is it possible to objectively measure gait in a vetgate? Monica Mira (POR)
12.00-12.45 — Can we check for hyposensitivity of the distal limb with reliability? Study results Morganne Shambourg (FRA)
12.45-14.00 — Lunch
14.00-14.45 — Specificities of pre-purchase exam of the endurance horse Massimo Pucetti (ITA, UAE)
14.45-15.30 — Tips for the training and the shoeing of the endurance horse Robert Diez Noguera (ESP-CAT)
15.30-16.15 Field tests available to objectively assess the conditioning of the endurance horse — Emmanuele van Erck (BEL)
16.15-16.45 — Coffee Break
16.45-17.15 — Best strategy to manage endurance competitions: what statistics is showing us. — David Marlin (UK)
17.15-18.00 — Equine performance genes and the future of doping in horseracing/endurance — Tessa Wilkin (AUS)