This is what I've got from social media in the past two weeks:
- Green Bean riders are just a bunch of trail riders, wanna be, with no aspiration to be "real" endurance riders. You know, no fifty or hundred mile aspiring riders in the group. We want to dumb down the sport, and turn it into a trail rider's club.
- Green Bean is not good for AERC.
- Green Bean teams are being "pampered" into the sport and change is long over due...blah, blah, blah and blah.
Sometimes you just have to ask...what is the matter with people? What are they so afraid of? It is interesting that there is so much buzz about what Green Bean is, but has nobody complaining really stopped to ask who we are, what we are doing, or why we are doing it? Even my rather unpleasant interactions last year with four months of dialog about what "we needed to do to make people outside of our group happy" consisted of no real resounding questions concerning why we are doing what we do. Just mostly demands that we change this that, or the other to fit it into someone else's little box. Not. Worth. It.
It is time to clear the air. First I do not speak for any green bean group out there, which there are many. I do not speak for any other member of the group I'm participating in. Just speaking for myself about something I feel passionate about. Personally I have no affiliation with any group flying a green bean flag, except for the GBE competition. It has been mistaken by many at some point (including AERC) that I am the go to person within the several thousand interested people that follow the various facebook groups. That is in fact wrong. I am not remotely that important. Those other groups are regional things being handled by somebody, (quite a few somebody's) that are not me. They are doing a great job in their own right of building interest in the sport. But when it comes to our competition? I'm full bore, feet first, and bleeding green all the way. The Green Bean Endurance competition is a beautiful thing. I invest about ten to twenty hours a week in it between October and February and my husband refers to it as "your other job." He ain't lying! But that is how good it is, and how much it all matters to me.
So first, I'd like to clear up what the Green Bean Endurance competition actually is and isn't.
Our group has 158 riders. 26 solo (one horse/one rider) competitors and 132 team riders, consisting of 27 teams. What we are doing is similar to what regional endurance clubs do, and that is track the rides people are riding anyway, assign point values to them (which ours is unique in that we do not reward placement since these are all somewhat green, learning, and growing riders). It is about complete, complete, and complete. Some riders may be placing here and there, but we don't recognize that, it is not what this thing is about. Our goals aside from the competition is slow, gradual growth within the sport from intro to 100 miles. I say that but also counter with our further goal which is for people to be able to ride the horse they love, the breed they love, and set their goals within the scope of that equine's ability to perform. That is where many of us find our joy and that is okay by me. We do not promote racing, and in fact discourage it. But I expect as people gain experience some will head that direction because they have talent and they have the horse.
Are we good for AERC? What is our groups financial impact on the sport?
We require that every rider be an AERC member in order to participate (log rides). I felt this was important to instill a sense of belonging and stewardship of the sport at large...to give back to the sanctioning organization of those rides we attend. As well as a means of quantifying the data our group needs to collect. So for the sake of making the math simple (no common core for this old lady) some of our riders are new and some are coming back this year. So let's give the AERC membership fee an average value of $70 X 158= $11,060 in membership fees. Now that may be a drop in the bucket to an organization as large as AERC, but it is nothing to sneeze at either. Then there are the hardworking managers who put on rides. As a group in 2015 our teams rode 11.905 LD & Endurance miles. If you again average out the price of entry fees per mile you can figure it costs at least $1.60 for every competition mile. Let's do the math. $1.60 X 11,905 miles = $19, 048 in support of AERC sanctioned rides. So our little group's financial impact on the sport was well over $30, 000 in 2015. This does not even touch the greater green bean movement that is not part of our competition group. Plenty more out there, competing and benefiting their larger organization. Since we are only a very small part of the whole of green bean, it would not be far reaching to double, or triple those numbers. So the grass roots get your butts in a saddle, group up around a campfire, and support each other style of doing things is working. AERC rider census is growing at least in some small part by our efforts as a group. (This does not discount the meaningful work of many others outside of GB in growing the sport with wonderful clinics, and mentorship, but for the sake of this discussion I'm focusing solely on GB. ) Green Bean has a positive financial impact on endurance vendors as well. All new riders, buying all those needful things as they can afford them. Positive. Impact. To the sport.
There is the argument that all these unprepared riders are out there killing themselves, killing their horses, menacing the broader endurance riding community. Within our group of competitors, there were ZERO fatalities, and a pull rate that was probably far lower than most endurance rides. I tracked it for most of 2015 and the pull rate percentage was very low. For the sake of understanding who, why, and when there are pulls we are now requiring pull reporting within the scope of our rules for 2016. If there is a weak link however small, we want to do what we can to identify and address it. Our riders did a good job of rider optioning, and the few pulls reported leaned toward a "rock with your name on it." As a group our riders have been very concerned and careful riders because you don't get points in GREEN BEAN if you do not finish. That whole "to finish is to win thing." And FYI just because some lunatic shows up at a ride, and rides the crap out their horse, it does not follow that GREEN BEAN supports that rider's behavior any more than a regional group would support a random person showing up at a ride cold turkey and making for a very bad day. That dog don't hunt.
When a mentor is requested and we do very strongly encourage that... we send them to AERC's regional mentor's list. That is where experienced riders have signed on to support and assist new riders. So for those very experienced nay-sayers out there...are YOU on that mentor's list? Are you helping? Building? Or are you just complaining... and tearing down the sport you claim to love? How many young new faces did you bring into the ranks in the past year? When you start needing a spreadsheet to keep track of them, I'll have a dialog with you.
Green Bean is watering down the glory of the sport (ie. bunch of trail riders)
Well...if 11, 900 miles of sanctioned rides is a trail ride, then I guess we are just a bunch of trail riders. We have worn some hide off our keesters, blew out some gloves and rennies, had a showing of five successful 100 mile rides out of those first year riders. Including Old Dominion and Tevis. Oh, and half those 11,900 miles were 50-100 mile endurance rides. Our competitive group is...well---they are competitive. Personally, I don't care what distance they choose to ride as long as the group rides safe, and has a happy and successful ride year. If you want us to aspire to what you do, please let us look up to you, rather than see you looking down on us ☺
And least I forget...Green Bean riders are being pampered into the sport
I'm going to shift back into time. Take it from a shy introvert's perspective. It ain't easy being green. It is such a bad feeling to go to a ride and not know anyone. Your extroverted types, won't get this. It is so far off their radars that they won't see the woods for the trees. But some of us very quiet people like to have a social network. If that is being pampered then oh well. I'm a diva.
The other complaint has been our exorbitant prize structure at Green Bean, let's talk about that. Each rider donates a $10 rider fee to participate. Which gives us an annual budget of about $1580 to give awards to 150 + people. 30% and more of that will go into shipping year end awards (big stuff, like key chains). So our total budget to purchase 150+ awards is $7.33 each. You can subtract from that our mentor of the year award which we spend the most on... and it drops to about $6.88 each-ish. I feel your pain, that is a shamefully huge prize for an entire year of competition. I guess I should have "the talk" with our pampered bunch of peeps. Maybe cut them back to $5.99 each. Would that make it all better? We had a great launch to the competition last year and had many donated prizes from AERC members and some great endurance gear vendors who support growth, and enjoy seeing the many excited new faces. Most of our sponsored prizes are not tied to the competition at all. These are given as random drawings throughout the year and just add some fun to the group. Those sponsoring individuals also made it possible for our top riders last season to have a decent year end prize. I appreciate each and every one of you danged wonderful growth inspired people who sponsor our volunteer group.
I was taught that it is not good to A.S.S.U.M.E if you are old enough, you'll get it ☺ It would be wonderful if people did not make blind assumptions about others. If you would like to really know what we are doing, I am happy to have a positive dialogue.
At the end of the day who is Green Bean Endurance? We are a fun loving new bunch of endurance riding supporters, happy to ride our horses at the level that makes us smile. How can that possibly be bad for endurance?
And for the record my personal feelings about the talking points in endurance:
1. 50 miles is endurance. Yep! That is what the rule books say.
2. Limited Distance is a training ride. Yes, no...I don't really care.
3. Hundred mile rides is what it is really about and the lower distances are training rides. I guess that is true if you are a hundred mile rider.
4. Boot vs. shoes. You will probably need one or the other.
5. Every horse/breed can do endurance. You been drinking?
6. Green Beans are trail riders. Well----yeah. So are you ☺
Get your RIDE on!