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

November 10, 2012

To Renew or Not to Renew and Value

Since before my first AERC ride I have supported the organization by renewing my membership annually even though the number of rides I participated in did not make it a sound choice from an economic viewpoint.  I believed in the mantra of trail preservation, and a safe venue for long distance riding, as well as having my horse's record tracked, and the bonus of the Endurance News.  Likewise I enjoyed having access to experienced riders contact information which was helpful in my newbie attempts at entering the sport.  For these reasons I've always waved the positive flag of renew, renew, renew.

This will be the first year that I will not.  When I see a clear sense of inclusion for all members of the organization I might send in my check and try again. When I see a clear pattern of kindness in the distance forums towards new people in the sport, and less of an attack mentality towards asked for ideas and solutions, I might try again.  No the forums are not AERC official forums, but they are the voting membership, those people who malign, and attack anyone with a fresh idea, or a use of common vernacular.   Truth is ....if I want to go out and ride 25 miles I can do that any day I want to.  In fact, I might just do it today.  It costs me nothing, I have no time agenda, no barriers.  Let's just say I've entered the pleasure division.  The Spotted Wonders hooves will fly and this beautiful day will be enjoyed with new CMO friends that "want" to ride with me.  My $80-100 to just "join" AERC will cover a whole season of CMO rides should I wish to do so.  Or a half tank of gasoline to get me somewhere.

You see, the true value of an organization is the sense of belonging that one derives from participation and membership.  And no, I've not turned against the organization.  I will always have a heart, and a desire to try, but not until there is a place for me, and others like me, and that is reflected by how you are treated by others within the sport. 
Here's an idea!  If you want growth, treat the newbie well when they find the AERC forums.  There is value in that my friends. 

Here's an idea!  When they ask to ride along and network for a ride buddy on that first 50 mile ride, be a champ and if you are a turtle offer to ride along.  You aren't adopting them, just supporting a dream like you once had in your gut. 

Here's an idea!  If a new person asks a question, be positive.  Share what you know.  Don't be judgmental, don't humiliate a new person on face book thinking they won't read what you wrote.  In short, treat others how you would like to be treated.

Here's an idea.  How about a novice division?   Now there is an idea that would add "value" to  new membership! Put the perks there.

Here's an idea.  Don't close the records.  Membership $ paid for that perk.  At least we thought we did.

Here's an idea.  Why are spending $50,000 on drug testing horses in an amateur sport?  Who cares if someone's horse gets a steroid eye drop?  Or antibiotic on a scrape.  Test the front runners, that is the only place it really matters, and the only place it would really benefit someone to "cheat."  Not saying anyone is....

Here's an idea.  Vote for the AERC Director at Large who wants to see NEW PEOPLE JOIN THE SPORT and RETAIN those members.   Not maintain the status quo, the way it was, or the way they think it should be.

Here's an idea.  Vote with your feet.   You can ride by being a day member.  Or you can choose to sit it out, and wait for change.   

If doing the same thing over and over gets the same result.  The way to get a different result is change what you are doing.   Come on Spotted Wonder, we have a trail to ride today.  A new adventure.   ~ E.G.


  1. You must be referring to the blood bath when you post to R.C.!

  2. Both ridecamp & the AERC Member's forum. They just don't seem to "want" new blood, and definitely not new ideas. Even when some asks ! It always mystifies me. But OH WELL.

    I believe those are the biggest downfall of the organization (as it relates to new people coming in). The newbies always find it, I did...and get their heads handed to them on a platter. A person's true persona is revealed on these forums.

    I also believe that the people with the backyard dream of riding distance are the meat and potatoes of the AERC kind of like a small depositor at the bank. There might possibly be a lot more 2-3 rides a season riders than there are campaigners that hit them all. But who does the organization REALLY want to please? Us...or them?

    In a perfect world I could move and do SERA or UMECRA.

  3. Interesting post and sorry you had such a bad experience with it. I didnt, but maybe that is because I just live in my own little world and am happy that I am aboard even if it is at the back of the pack I kinda tune everyone out. That doesnt help to make friends, but it seems that there are just too many in the endurance world who think they know it all when actually they don't. The endurance world seems to be unfortunately full of haughty people and I don't know why. But I don't have a competitors mind.

    I like your mentality that you can go out and ride 25 miles and it won't cost you a huge entry fee. I can do the same-I can ride 15 miles and be on the Tevis trail and wander on over to the PACIFIC crest trail if I felt like it. The goal for me is to just actually GET OUT THERE AND RIDE! : ) The beauty of it is that all the trials and stress of work fall away when I "play" with my horses and I can come back refreshed-no need to go to counseling! : )

  4. I am saddened to read your reason not to join AERC and that you have had some bad experiences with other members..I have been a member since 2005 and participate when I can, I have mentored newbies and am always willing to help the newcomer. I stay out of gossip and occasionally post in RC...I mostly lurk and learn. Is there a RM that you can hook up with, or a mentor to help you meet other ppl? I hope you come back and continue to is appreciated

  5. I am saddened to read your reason not to join AERC and that you have had some bad experiences with other members..I have been a member since 2005 and participate when I can, I have mentored newbies and am always willing to help the newcomer. I stay out of gossip and occasionally post in RC...I mostly lurk and learn. Is there a RM that you can hook up with, or a mentor to help you meet other ppl? I hope you come back and continue to is appreciated

  6. I am like falconfeathers (cute name). I do rides for my own enjoyment, and don't waste any energy worrying about whether the "in" crowd likes me or not, or in trying to change things that I don't like. I honestly don't think AERC should have a "novice" division, because competitive trail is supposed to be the learning path. You move to endurance when you've got your solid footing in a more low-stress sportg. And I love ya, Jacke, but you probably just proved one of AERC's argument. You said you could ride 25 miles "any day for free". AERC's argument is exactly that -- that 25 miles is not an endurance ride and anyone can do it on a nice Saturday.

  7. No I've never considered that an LD "was" an endurance ride. It clearly isn't. Or I'd have completed one already. Nobody will get an argument from me there ☺ And why pay for an LD if I can run outside right now, saddle up, and ride the darned thing for free?

    But AERC sanctions LD's. You can't deny that there is some division on this front. I think of Stephanie Teeter whom I've not had the good fortune to meet, and her ideas of having an open and inclusive organization that has something for everyone. There is value in that argument. But none of that has really colored my decision to non-renew. I just want to see where the organization is going. I'm not so self-centered to think I need to "change" the sport, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Endurance, LD, CTR, Ride & Tie, CMO, CTC's, or ACTHA for that matter. I enjoyed the sport and it has been a big part of my life for the past few years, but I've finally recognized that I personally don't "fit." I do feel that I would encourage someone to give it a try, it is a fun goal to take a horse up to another level. I'll continue to find supportive articles and link them on this blog. I believe in other people's dreams, big or small. Even if they happen to no longer align with mine!

    However, the mean spirited-ness of others has colored the lens of my view of AERC. It took about five years, but I give...I truly do.

    Time to grab the "PORK CHOP" for some exercise. ~ E.G.

  8. Trust me, EG, I know where you are coming from. Exactly. I have competed in twelve different states and four regions, and I found the MW Region to be surprisingly cliquey. I just can't figure out WHY. It just does not make sense. But believe me, it is not like that everywhere. It is really such a shame that you don't have the opportunity to get out and experience rides in other regions. Then you would probably have a whole different outlook.

    As for the viciousness on the endurance forums...I know all about that. I am not on the AERC Members Forum, but a lot of that stuff gets cross posted to Ride Camp and, well...a lot of it is really ugly. I occasionally post on Ride Camp. I am very, very careful to point out that what I write is my opinion and my opinion only, or what has worked for ME (that means it might or might not work for YOU) and I still get a whole new orifice torn into me periodically. And for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I just don't get it. Possible new members lurk on that forum and read all the bashing. And then they think that endurance riders are mean people. And then AERC can't figure out why so few want to join or renew.

    Don't get me wrong about Ride Camp. There is some very, very valuable information that you can acquire there. But then there is the negative side. I guess so many folks on RC just feel like they can be as mean as they want because they figure they will never meet you anyway because chances are you live several states away. Well, that might be so for some folks, but since I am in a military relationship, we could be moved to almost anywhere at any time. Then those meanies will have to deal with me face to face. And I doubt they are nearly as brave in person as hiding on Ride Camp!

    Personally, I like the Facebook AERC page. The official page. People are very nice and helpful on that site. Check it out!

    Best of luck to you on your future endeavors, whatever they may be! I love reading your blog and will continue to do so, regardless of what you write about!

    Sheri in VA

  9. I stopped reading RC more than a year ago because it is full of the nasty, the ignorant, and the closed-minded. I'd rather talk to people who are out riding than to people who are hanging out on RC. Of course, that's true of basically every online forum out there. There are people who are DOING and people who are TALKING. :) My husband likes to feed the trolls online, but I'd just as soon avoid them!

    I think if you aren't planning on doing more than 2-3 AERC rides at the most, then the reasons to join are pretty limited. Your decision seems pretty solid to me, though I'm sure they'll be sorry to lose your support!

    PS: You are very lucky to have 25 miles you can do any sunny weekend!

  10. Ruth is right. I ride LDs off and on and I've never joined AERC. I pay the extra couple bucks for non-member and call it a day. I usually do that if I had intended on doing a 25-mile CTR but some friend doing the LD talks me into riding with them instead...