Elisabeth Carter has been riding horses as long as she can remember. She has competed in rodeos since junior high all the way to the collegiate level and has competitively barrel raced for over ten years. She currently serves as vice president of the Southern Arizona Barrel Racing Association. Carter also trains her own horses and appreciates the amount of work and patience it takes to train a horse for any discipline.
Elisabeth is a third year Veterinary Science major and plans to attend vet school upon graduation with her sights set on becoming an equine veterinarian. When she is not at the barn or in the classroom, Elisabeth can be found on the golf course. She qualified for the state tournament each of her four years in high school, and while she no longer plays competitively, she still enjoys a round when time permits.
Elisabeth's experience with horses allowed her to make an immediate impact in Rillito's Equine Wellness Program. What she lacked in race track experience, she made up for with a strong work ethic and willingness to learn about protocols at the track. Her time in PRISE has piqued her interest in racing, and every stakeholder should hope this was just the beginning of her involvement in the industry.
In her words:
Growing up, what was your involvement and interest in horse racing?
I have grown up with horses, training and competing in barrel racing, but I've never been involved in the horse racing industry until being part of the Equine Wellness Program at Rillito Race Track. Even though my focus has to been to work with the vets, I have learned a lot about horse racing and have greatly enjoyed my time from being on the backside to right on the track.
What kind of work have you done at Rillito Race Track?
At Rillito Race Track, I worked in the Equine Wellness Program, in which I have been assisting the vets in the mornings before the race as well as on the track during the races. In the mornings, the goal is to do a pre-race exam on every horse in order to prevent breakdowns on the track. On the track we inspect the horses again, looking out for any signs of lameness before the horses enter the gates. After the race, we check for any bleeders and lameness.
What's something that you've learned from the industry that surprised you?
From having little experience in the racing industry, I have learned a lot in the six weeks I have worked at Rillito. Something that differs from barrel racing is the equipment checks that occur in the paddock, required blood tests of the winners and vet lists for horses that need to be examined by a vet before being allowed to compete.
There are no equipment checks or vet lists in the barrel racing industry and drug testing really only occurs in Women's Professional Barrel Racing Association (WPRA) sanctioned races. I admire the effort that goes in to create an even playing field for all the horses. Furthermore, I think the industry is right in having vet lists to keep horses that shouldn't be running from competing. This is critical for the health of the horse and to prevent any further injuries.
What do you consider the most important problem facing the racing industry? How would you go about solving it?
It is my understanding that not all tracks perform pre-race exams on all horses that are running, and I believe this is an important problem. This year at Rillito, strong efforts have been made to do pre-race exams on all the horses and it has been successful. The majority of horses pass, but the few scratches that had to be made were worth it if it prevented a breakdown. Between the vets and students, we were able to come up with an efficient system that divided the work up so that we could attempt to look at every horse running.
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