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

December 12, 2010

What would you change about AERC rides, awards, distances if you could?

I'm always interested to read or hear other's thoughts about their ride organization, and their reasoning for the change.  I've heard it stated that there is no place for the shorter distances in some folks minds, that it isn't endurance if it isn't at least 50 miles.  Some would say 100 miles.  I've heard from old-timers no longer in the sport that they gave it up when the veterinary holds began to hold sway on the outcome.   Some feel that banned substances have gone overboard blocking riders whose horse may have a minor ailment from treatment that in no way actually affects performance, but rather keeps a minor health issue from becoming a major health issue.  Though I don't always agree with the opinions of others I always find them interesting.  So here are the rules: what you can't say is you like things just the way they are.  There is always room in our mind for change of some kind, however small.  Please don't hate me if you find my ideas off the charts, radical, or just plain "weird."  They are just opinions, they are only mine, and they keep my thoughts entertained when a foot of snow is falling with little chance of changing anything other than the level of my boredom.

State what the AERC would do differently if you were driving the bus.

1. To promote and encourage new riders to the sport I would like to see "Rookie Awards" for the high mileage Rookie riders or Rookie horse of the year.  You would have to be an AERC member, and sign up pre-season to participate.  I think this would be an encouraging way to drive new members to really dig in and have at it from the beginning.  It would also encourage miles vs. racing the first few critical years.  Once you've accumulated your 500 mile chevron  for distance  (or finished the first competition year) you would no longer be a rookie.

2.  This one is my favorite idea ...To promote LD riders to move up in distance how about "The Movin' on Up Award."  This could be a blurb in The Endurance News that says....Endurance Granny from the MidWest Region has moved on 50 miles, or 65 miles, 75 miles, or my very first 100 (not likely but for the sake of illustration).  It wouldn't cost the organization anything to speak of except a mention in the magazine under ride results or it could instead be a chevron that says Movin' On Up (with the distance).  It would give riders the incentive to Move on Up!  These could be given out at rides, or from the AERC.  I can't speak for anyone but myself, but having an "award" like the chevrons is personally very motivating. 

3.  It would be great if the AERC had a store that offered a great quality jacket to have your mileage chevrons sewn onto.  I'd likely purchase one.  Or a company that would take your chevrons and mount them in a shadow box with a favorite ride photo...that would be really cool for display.  Actually the AERC store is almost bare! They should get some good stuff in there for us to buy! The AERC would make money on them.

4.  This will likely turn some hairs also, but I'd like to see LD rides be allowed to be held outside of the other distance venues.  I believe the shorter distance rides would spring up all over the place and give LD riders a lot more options for their distance.   It would open up LD rides for day venues perhaps closer to home too!  As a newbie rider the most HUGE CHALLENGE I have faced is teaching my little race brained mare to pace our speed, rather than someone else's.  Having horses from the longer distance galloping up behind, and racing on by is not truly conducive to teaching the young mileage only horse the job it needs to do.  If the AERC allowed a few stand alone rides in each region you would have that opportunity to teach your horse a sane pace.  Yes, there would be those who would still want to race that distance, but they wouldn't be behind you if you started at the back.  That way you would have a choice on how you taught your young horse.  Get a few of the training rides under your belt before moving on into the the combined venues.  Another option to that would be to have your LD riders loop be the final loop of the day for the longer distance riders.  It would not totally eliminate the overlap, but would minimize it for those who are really new to the sport.

5.  I would like a MANUAL on what vet check scores mean.  I'm kidding...but only partly.  Is a "B" a "B" or is it a looming disaster?  Or at the very least an explanation from the ride vet.  Your horse's gut sounds are a "B" you might want to try this, or that, or this or that could happen.  I like to know what things mean so I can make good decisions.  Yikes!  Vet scores scare me to death. 

6.  In a perfect world it would NEVER rain at a ride, and the temperature would never exceed 72 degrees.           Your turn.



  1. With vet scores I always ask. Ride vets seem to be very open to giving advice. "Give him a mash and we'll give you a courtesy check in 20 minutes." In my case, my horse has a heart murmur that we always monitor very carefully at rides. I ask if I should worry about continuing and have had vets give me suggestions for a better electrolyte plan. One even provided me with a sample of what he thought would work.

  2. The Pacific Northwest region has a few awards that I would *love* to see nationally:

    Sophomore Horse: to the horse in the second year of competition. Award goes to the horse with the most consecutive completions
    on rides of 50+ miles. If at anytime the horse fails to complete a 50+ mile ride, the count returns to zero.

    250 Mile Achievement: to any horse/rider teams who complete 250 miles or more in one season.

    Sandybaar Award: In honor of Sandybaar, an Arabian stallion who
    competed in the early days of PNER/AERC. He was never pulled. Awards go to all horse/rider
    teams who complete a minimum of ten consecutive rides, any distance.

    My First 100 Award: to the rider who completes his/her first career 100 mile/1 day ride on any horse.

    And of course, I want to see much more interest in the Standardbred of the Year award!

  3. I love the PNER Sophomore Horse award. I love it MORE than any other encouraging newbies award. Really rewards careful riders who are in it for the long haul. I worry about people who keep blowing through horses by racing in LDs. :( (This has nothing to do with any bloggers that I know of - it was a discussion on a gaited endurance email list.)

    I like the Movin' Up notice idea :)