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.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association