The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 1972 as a national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls. At the same time it has sought to avoid the rigidity and complexity so characteristic of many other equine disciplines.
From its beginnings in the American West, the AERC has spread roots both nationally and internationally. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout North America. In 1978 the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) recognized endurance riding as an international sport, and since that date the U.S. and Canada have fielded teams in many FEI competitions throughout the world.
In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, the AERC encourages the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails, such as the Pony Express Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Chief Joseph Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or “Tevis Cup,” covers 100 miles of the famous Western States and Immigrant Trails over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These rides promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations and foster an appreciation of our American heritage.