I can't help but imagine that this would shove out a high percentage of LD riders who choose to ride LD because the fee is more affordable, and they can ride two days instead of one day, making their weekend more enjoyable as they also get more bang (or the same in mileage) for the buck.
Distance riding involves the use of expendable income. Even at current rates me and my stock trailer and generic spotted wonder would be lucky to afford 3-4 rides a season and that would be cutting out other luxuries at home just so I can do the distance thing at all. I can't imagine I am the only LD/ENDURANCE person out there who exists on a very marginal budget, rides the rides for personal goal fulfillment (rather than competition)?
Can you afford to pay a $95-100 dollar entry fee for every LD you ride? It could be that out west and over on the east coast, maybe you already are? But here in the midwest the ride fees are about $65, which means I could ride two days (second day is discounted) for just over $100. That I can plan for, look forward to, and support. If an LD ride is $100 each day (or close to it) how many LD riders will have to pack up their toys and quit playing, or at the very least choose a new venue? Maybe that is the whole point? But how will that support the bottom line for the AERC?
Instead of looking for ways to throw up barriers to rides, as an organization we need to look at how to OPEN UP the ride venues to attract more riders, new blood, and keep the rides solvent that way. It seems that the way to fix what is broken is to "tweak" LD with some outside the box thinking. How could you make the LD crowd grow (since they generate a large portion of the revenues for any given ride).
- Open up divisions within LD. Open (for those who like to race for points), Pleasure for those who like to go for high mileage goals and those bringing new horses into the sport). That would be so simple. Those in Open start 15 minutes ahead of the mileage crowd. There are generally only those two kinds of rider within LD anyway, make it useful!
- Here's another no-brainer. Start the 50's on the LAST loop of the LD trail. This way someone trying to train a horse, or try an LD for the first time does not have five 50 mile riders barreling past them all at once and cursing them because they parked their "very excited" horse off the side of the trail. (Yes, that has happened to me) (twice). This way those 50 mile riders will be long gone, out of the way before the LD riders hit that loop. Especially if they start 15 minutes ahead of LD.
- A MOVING ON UP award. A mention in the Endurance News when a horse or rider moves on up to a higher mileage pinnacle. Such as "Congratulations! "Horse el Ak Bar" has moved up to 50 miles! Wouldn't that inspire you if you were sitting on the fence (if you are anything like me) to try a longer distance? Better yet a Chevron for mileage pinnacles of 30, 50, 65, 75, 100. Those would be worth framing around a ride picture for display or sewing onto a nice horse blanket. I'd rather have those any day than a pile of ill-fitting t-shirts. Surely mileage chevrons wouldn't cost any more than a t-shirt?
- LD--First time rider discount. Reduce the fee for that first LD, first ENDURANCE ride to encourage riders to these venues. Let them get their feet wet and learn the ropes that first ride for just a small fee. Yes, you will lose some money on them that ride, but if they continue to come back you have increased your rider census and revenue exponentially.
There are a lot of ways to bring more revenue into the sport by increasing "volume" rather than increasing fees. Just look at our federal government...which is a good example of what NOT to do. Find things that work and make the changes that RIDERS support. If you declare yourself an LD rider, you can only vote on LD changes. If you are registered as an ENDURANCE rider you can only vote on changes to the Endurance venue. The membership should have a bigger voice in how the organization operates.