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

February 5, 2015

The tragedy in Region VII

Those who follow the AERC facebook page have been made aware of yet another tragic ending for horses at an endurance ride (REGION 7) in the middle east. "Horse falls at Al Reef 120Km CEN 31 January 2015 "  Have reports of 3 dead horses at this race, one with 2 broken front legs.There is an ongoing abuse and misuse of horses over there.   It is disturbing, upsetting, and horrible what those animals endure for the sake "winning."  I abhor it, do not condone it, and wish I had the magical powers to make it stop.  New people looking at our sport see these reports and think that somehow that is what we do, and who we are, and they decide they want no part of the sport.   They are not separating or understanding that "we" are not "them."

Our rule book is founded on principles that put the welfare of the horse first. That is why there are protections in the rules that prohibit drugging, and set soundness pulse criteria that the horse must meet to complete.  These rules encourage intelligent (humane) riding.     REGION 7 which is in no way affiliated directly with AERC and obviously not AERC principles is not who we are, not who we aspire to be, and is totally counter intuitive to the principles established by AERC.    I a mere member (not on the BOD or committee) feel secure in stating that.

Are there bad actors in our sport?   Most likely a few.  There are bad actors in every sport from bicycle racing to the NFL and probably every show venue available to horses.  If you are out there and contemplating stepping back from the sport because of the reports coming out of the Middle East (REGION 7), please...know that the very highest percentage of AERC's members care about their horses, ride carefully, train vigorously, and we are not them. 

My opinion may not be a "popular" opinion...but I wish we as an organization would divorce ourselves from any and all connections with this behavior and blatant lack of concern for the welfare of the animals that are used in the sport over there.   We need a little grass roots house cleaning on that score.

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