Jul 30, 2019

The 10 Minutes on Endurance Day

By Claire Kelley - USEA Staff
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

“It feels more like 10 seconds than 10 minutes,” said Chris Kawcak when describing the 10-minute box at a Hylofit USEA Classic Series Event. After phase C and before phase D is the 10-minute box, which is described in the Classic Series Guidelines as a compulsory 10-minute halt and veterinary check to ensure that the horse is fit and sound enough to continue on to the cross-country phase.

A classic series competitor and a full-time veterinarian, Chris Kawcak explained, “The goal of the 10-minute box is to be sure the horse is ready to continue. With a horse like mine, an older Percheron Thoroughbred cross, all factors come into play - heat, humidity, ability to properly condition, soundness, etc. The 10-minute box allows for a quick check in to [make] sure all is good.”

For a 10-minute box to feel like a well-oiled machine, Kawcak put an emphasis on teamwork and Kawcak’s team includes his wife, Erin Contino. The couple lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, are vets by day and event riders by night. Contino won the 2018 AEC Novice Amateur division on her Thoroughbred gelding, Handsome Ransom and Kawcak finished fifth with his horse, Maggie Belle at the 2018 Novice Three-Day Event at Rebecca Farm.

A team smiling for a picture after Phase D. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

As a rider, “You jog in, find your team (more likely they find you), dismount, and get out of the way. Having a team with experience helps, especially for a novice like myself. That way you can focus on what’s next - when do I get back on, where’s the start box, do I have my whip. For me, I knew that Erin had Maggie covered, so I focused on hydrating, being at the right place to remount, made sure my stirrups were correct length, and I rechecked my time for phase D. [Once I was on] I did a little forward and back to get my mare thinking and responsive. Everything is so frantic it helps to focus on the simple things.”

During the 10 minutes, “The team focuses on cooling the horse down and letting the horse regroup for the next phase. Water [is applied] to the horse and scraped off immediately. That’s the cooling mechanism – the scraped water carries the heat away from the body. The horse [should] keep walking in between. They also check the tack, shoes, and boots to make sure everything is good. The veterinarians and assistants will take vitals and navigate the timing of that. Everyone is always communicating around time, it feels like a bit of organized chaos.”

Sweat scrapers, water buckets, and sponges are common items in the 10-minute box. Kawcak explained, “It’s different for every rider and weather condition. Buckets, sponges, extra sweat scrapers, studs, extra pair of horseshoes (we keep an extra pair at all times). The key is for [someone] to keep track of your gear. Buckets tend to mysteriously walk away, but the other teams and riders are great about helping out.”

The way you cool a horse down can depend on the weather. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

From a veterinarian perspective, Kawcak explained that the 10-minute box, “focuses on horse health and conditioning. I know that event riders are some of the best horsemen from the standpoint of knowing their horses, and I think the classic format is an excellent tool to help riders key into those subtle things that are important to their horse. This is the time to use that experience to be sure your horse’s health is first and foremost.”

“Trust in your team,” was Kawcak’s tip to make endurance day as smooth as possible. He continued, saying, “As a rider, focus on the little things - go back through and make sure your times and pace are correct, make sure you remember what you and your coach discussed for each cross-country jump, remember your times and minute markers. Most of all, enjoy the experience. Start weeks to months in advance thinking about how to get them fit and feeling good. It’s a lot of fun.”

About the Hylofit USEA Classic Series

The Hylofit USEA Classic Series keeps the spirit of the classic long ­format three­-day events alive for Beginner Novice through the Preliminary levels. Competitors can experience the rush of endurance day, including roads and tracks, steeplechase, the vet box, and cross­-country, as well as participate in formal veterinary inspections and educational activities with experts on the ins and outs of competing in a long ­format three-­day event. Riders who compete in a Hylofit USEA Classic Series event during the year will have the chance to win a variety of prizes at the events from USEA sponsors. Click here to learn more about the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.

The USEA would like to thank Hylofit, FLAIR, FITS, SmartPak Equine, Stackhouse & Ellis Saddles, and Parker Equine Insurance for sponsoring the Hylofit USEA Classic Series.

About Hylofit

Now available to purchase, the Hylofit system hit the marketplace in 2018. The Hylofit system is the only equine wearable to offer in-ride feedback for horse and rider. Hylofit’s state-of-the-art product is designed to maximize communication between horse and rider, improve training results, and promote the overall health and well-being of the horse. Hylofit unique features include real-time feedback, post-ride insights, rider insights, overall well-being of the horse and rider, zone training, sharing features, video features, weather impact features, and more. The Hylofit system that tracks both horse and rider’s heart rate is comprised of four hardware components, an app for iOS or Android, and an optional app for the iWatch.

Hylofit is generously providing a 10 percent discount for Hylofit products to all USEA Classic Series competitors! Hylofit will also provide 11 Hylofit systems to the high scorers of each USEA Classic Series event at the 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.

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