Thursday, January 01, 1998

Saturday Morning, September 2007 - An Endurance Net Event - Scott

I’ve been riding these races for more than a
decade now. Every year the crowds at the start get

"Geez, get out of my way," I mutter under
my breath. Another reporter hunting the next
endurance spectacular story. Catfish’s hooves are
so close to his feet I hold my breath, but the reporter
steps out of our way as we approach the start.
Sometimes I miss the simple starts of long ago.
Everybody wants to know everything since they
started the Endurance Net Event. Yesterday Catfish
was my horse, but today they snapped on a neck
monitor band and now he’s everybody’s horse.
Nothing is secret. The neck monitor sends
respiration, hydration, and gut sounds real time to
Internet Event site where everybody can see how
he’s doing in the race. I guess I should quit
complaining. I chose to make this sport my life.

The reporter we almost walked on steps
close at the start. "I heard Catfish is training well.
How do you think he will do today?" he asks.
I can’t help bragging a bit about Catfish.
"Well, darn, I see him taking the win. I think we
could take the Most Efficient Award, too. Now,
excuse me, we’re about to race." I guide Catfish
slightly away from the reporter to have a brief
moment of privacy with my horse before the race
begins. If such a thing as privacy can be had with all
the satellite transmitters sending digitized video of
the start to the Net site.

The race starts and shortly into it I see the
first trail marker ahead. It’s a blue light on top of a
pole that emerges from a box at its base. This is the
first network node which will gather Catfish’s
numbers from his monitor and send them to the
Internet public. I think our fans will be pleased
when they see how quickly Catfish has moved into
racing form. The video and stats will be available
almost instantly to the Web pages, which I admit,
modestly, drew the most hits during the World
Endurance Net Event last May. Of course, Catfish’s
biography and my good looks do make a clickable

Where’s a blood sugar guy when you need
one? I listened to my status pad for Catfish’s vital
signs as we approach the vet check. I hope our vet,
Sam, is watching on his palm top PC so he can be
ready for us at the Vet Check. There is good
information about a horse’s condition these days.
The monitors send data about each step ahead to the
vets, as well as to the Internet. It’s been great for
the horses. The whole race is a kind of vet check.
The actual Vet Check stop is more of a PR event
where Internet reporters try to grab a sound bite
from the riders to add flavor to their digital video
clips of the stop. I hope that nice World Event
reporter that gave me and Catfish all the great press
last May is here. I can always use an ego boost.

The 41st blue trail marker is ahead now. I
note Catfish’s efficiency rating is the best it’s ever
been. The Most Efficient Award for average heart
rate over time and distance comes with a big fat
bonus check. I’ve already priced a new automated
saddle pad I want to buy with the money. This
saddle pad is having trouble adjusting to gait
changes. The new ones can be programmed to
individual horses. Now that I see how Catfish’s
sweet canter is making his efficiency numbers glow,
I can’t till the award is announced. I bet those
couch endurance eventers are in hog heaven.

Well, the race is over. We won the race, so I should
be happy. But I’m kind of irritated because an
Arabian nag that just started racing this year took
the Most Efficient Award. Geez, you’d think the
judges could add a few points for the way a horse
IS. So what if the Arabian’s numbers were just a
thousandth better than Catfish - Catfish’s got
enough character to make up for all the impersonal
data in the world. Oh well, technology changes
things. And there’s always another Endurance Net
Event. With the millions of viewers the Internet
draws, there are more endurance races every year.

* * *

I wrote this Endurance Net Event story as an
illustration of how endurance events today could be
available on the Internet. Imaging going to
"Endurance Net Event" site where you could select
one of several races to track. Each race would have
a course map to be viewed several different ways.
Views might show elevations, live video of different
course sites, weather and ground conditions. The
sites could have real time racing statistics available
for each horse and rider. People around the world
interested in the sport could follow the races in a
self-directed way.

Just sharing a few thoughts about how technology
changes things.


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