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

June 5, 2012

EN's Breed Recognition

Where have I heard that topic before?  We should welcome all breeds under the tent....  Something about riders of non-arabians feeling some non-inclusion within the sport.  We should welcome and embrace new riders within our ranks.  We should be friendly.  Encourage people to ride the horse they have.

Dang!  I think I wrote all that just a little while back.  I even took a poll ☺

The thing is though, the folks riding the non-typical breeds don't feel included because their horses do not get RECOGNITION for their perhaps even greater effort to participate in the sport.  That and that alone would make the difference of how new folks on their non-arab horses could be drawn into the sport, boost membership and ride numbers.   Honestly it would be as simple as year end best of breed "awards." They wouldn't even have to cost anything.  Most would be excited to see their Appaloosa, Paso Fino, Mustang, Quarter Horse, etc...ranked as best of breed in the EN's at the end of the year.  That is recognition.  That is inclusion, that would excite people to be involved in this thing called endurance.  Now the fall back is always, encourage the breed associations to offer an award for distance.  The breed associations are mostly locked into the breeding/showing aspect and could care less.  A few have stepped up onto the band wagon and offered a distance award, but for the most part, not and they aren't going to.  So if the actual breed organization won't recognize its distance horses, and if the AERC will not recognize best of breed, then what in the stalemate can one do?  

I just thought it was ironic.   Inclusion without recognition.  Hmmmm.... 

The only alternative is to ride your own ride for your own reasons.  On YOUR horse.



  1. Really is up to the Breed Organization to offer/present these awards. AERC merely provides the venue for such. I know of several gaited horse riders who have campaigned within their breed organization (successfully) to have these awards offered. I also know that in at least one year, the Tennessee Walking Horse award was sponsored by a private individual, who purchased the blanket and paid for the embroidery. You can work with Mike Maul to receive the awards/miles/points to determine placing by breed.

  2. I guess I'm spoiled by living in what might be the most "integrated" region. I'm not trying to be argumentative (OK, maybe a little), but breed awards would be really hard to implement outside of their respective organizations.

    I would guess at any ride up here in the NW alone you could find 10-20 breeds represented and heaven knows how many shades of grade. So maybe you're top 10 AERC Moyle in the country... big whoop when there are only three actively competing.

    To make the awards mean something, the pools probably need to be bigger than just individual breeds: Something like Arabs and Crosses, Gaited, and Non-Arabian. But then you get into semantics and self-reporting: Is an STB Gaited or Non-Arab? (Depends if you're pacing or trotting!)

    So to make the divisions both logical and fair, you end up with just two pools: Arabs/Crosses and Other. That looks OK until you realize that many horses who are listed as grade (ie, Other) by AERC are just unregistered arabs and part arabs.

    Then you're just back to arabs being the "ruling class" of AERC. Personally, that doesn't bother me. Those riders are doing their thing; I'm doing my thing.

    So here's my question to you: What about a breed-specific award do you think would attract new riders? (Many of whom lack the time or physical ability to ride at the level that would put you in national standing, regardless of breed...)

    To me, awards are beside the point. The better route is to be nice to everyone you meet on the trail, no matter what they're riding! :)

  3. Ruth, You are indeed in one of the most integrated and open regions of the country (based on my communication with others in the region). Your regional club also offers recognition of those riding non-typical breeds. I have to respectfully disagree with you concerning the horses ending up in two pools arabs and non-arabs. That is easily sorted out by registration papers. A non-registered horse is grade horse, which can be a larger open pool. So you do not have breeds competing against the more talented pool of arabians. It doesn't bother me that arabians dominate the sport, they are flat good at it. The point is pulling interest from riders who might think what's the point....the arab is going to get the awards and I can trail ride FREE any day of the week. Look at it this way, Joe Shmoe shows up at a ride on his Baskir Curly (or whatever) and rides the distance. He gets an award for high mileage Baskir Curly by having a mention in the EN's (so what if he is one of one Baskir at this point). He knows people that ride the breed, and he says "my horse just won best of breed, or high mileage, or whatever you want to call it." His buddies who also ride Curlys think, I bet my horse can out mileage this guy. Their appetite is whetted to try the sport. So maybe next year their are two, or three, or however many added to the roster. Maybe a little niche sets in. I don't think physical prizes would be necessary to inspire people to try.

    In short though the AERC is very unlikely to change the status quo and I don't consider myself to be in a position to say they should, or should not. It is nice that some breed organizations are getting on board for distance, but most never will. Probably the most valuable resource to do this is your regional clubs, working with the breeds they have represented within their ranks.

    I've ridden three horses so far in my limited exposure to distance riding. An eighteen year old arabian purebred, a 7/8 arabian, and now an Appaloosa/arabian cross. The eighteen year old purebred could of kicked either of my other two horses butts. However, there is something to be had in the bigger challenge of competing a horse not necessarily a ringer for the sport. You have to think harder, work harder, ride smarter, and take your lumps. Personally, I do not "need" an award. Sometimes I don't even bother picking up my t-shirt unless it is a pivotal ride such as Journey's first completion. There is a difference between an award and recognition. Every time you look at the ride standings in EN's you are seeing recognition of those who participated in the sport. For me that is my thrill, seeing that my horse completed in black and white.

    In summation, I just found it interesting that the article popped up in our publication. I agree, we need to embrace riders of all breeds, and make them feel welcome under the big tent of AERC.