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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

December 29, 2010

AERC Endurance --- Amateur Sport?

I have read somewhere that AERC Endurance is an amateur sport.  Certainly the newbies in their first 0-1000 miles are the amateurs going into the sport.  But can that be said riding forward onto Old Dominion, Tevis, or the Bighorn, or after that initial 1000 mile award?  What discipline has as much risk as this sport to the welfare of the horse?  An amateur sport.  So early on you have to step up in your knowledge base or this discipline will bite back, and it is your horse that will suffer.  You must not remain an amateur for long.  What do I find the most important to get early on in the game?

Rating your horse at all gaits.
A compliant partnership with your horse.
A horse that is able to relax in camp, and on the trail.
Riding with balance.

These are the ideals, but often we as amateurs ride something different, or perhaps this is our first  ever equine sport (as it is mine).  If so the thing to get early on may turn out to be?

Leave ten minutes after the last person out (excluding yourself).
Go slow (as in barely get it done).
Use the distance trail as training rather than competing.
Have a sense of humor.
Be careful.
Find a like minded Newbie and teach your horses together.
Get training and lessons to supplement your learning as you progress or recognize you might be of your depth.
Ask a lot of questions.

Amateur sport?  I guess if you are non-competitive and riding to the concept of "To Finish Is To Win" then yes it is.  If you are riding at any level above that you surely need to be armed with education, experience,  and training to your level.


  1. Endurance is an amateur sport because none of us gets paid in the end. I think it's as simple as that.
    It has nothing to do with individual accomplishments or difficulty of the ride, just with money. And since there is none, we're all amateurs ;)

  2. In a private dispute, someone had the gall to call my horse perma-green. I huffed right up. GREEN?!?!!? My horse does bridges, rides on the trail alone or in groups, crosses white water, and clocks about 1000 miles a year (competition or not). Pretty much nothing spooks him and he'll turn on a dime even at a gallop. I ride him in a snaffle bit and he sits quietly in camp like an old pro. Let's see your fancy warmblood do any of that!!! The idea of endurance being an amateur sport is laughable.

  3. Amateur merely means someone who does something because they love it, professional does it for the money. In our money obsessed society we have confused it by meaning someone less skilled or serious about their sport.

    Amateurs, to me, are the purest sportsmen in what ever endeavor they chose...

  4. Amateur only means non-pro, it has nothing to do with experience or skill level. While there are some "professional" endurance riders in this sport, there are far fewer than most other equestrian disciplines.

  5. I agree whole heartedly that amateur means not for monetary gain. But amateur also does not mean "amateur".

    It is interesting to consider that many amateur sports have "training levels." This sport has a place for that, but not a formal venue for it, though some would say that is the purpose of LD. I guess one could look at the distances involved as the training level (test) since you aren't going to move up until you master each level.

    Sorry about your green horse DOM, I have one too (*wink*) 1500 trail miles not withstanding.

  6. Someone enlighten me. Where would you find "true" professional endurance riders? FEI is international but it is still amateur?

  7. Professional riders are those who make a living by riding/training endurance horses. Christoph Schork, Jeremy and Heather Reynolds, Valarie Kanavy, etc, are part of the group I would consider to be professionals. They make their living consulting, breeding, training and riding in the sport of endurance. That said, as there are no rules or regs regarding amateur/pro, I guess the definition is purely opinion. When showing AHA, members who show amateur are required to get amateur cards.

    Many endurance riders are compensated at various levels by different companies and even breeding programs/barns, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are pros. Anyone can ride FEI, so no, that does not mean someone who rides FEI is a pro, it means they have forked out the cash and have the horseflesh to do so.