Eight Questions to Ask Before Filing a Protest
by Robert Ribley
AERC’s protest and grievance system serves a purpose within the sport and is designed to function as a final step in resolving a conflict after all other attempts have failed to resolve the situation.
The following are the questions you should ask yourself before deciding to file a protest or a grievance:
1. Have I tried to discuss and work out the problem/conflict with the other party (or parties) involved?
2. Have I sought out the advice of more experienced endurance riders and ride managers in an attempt to get more information in order to solve the conflict?
3. Have I sought out and talked to an AERC director who may have been at the ride where the conflict arose and could act as a mediator?
4. Have I contacted by phone, e-mail or letter my regional AERC director or director at large to assist me in resolving the conflict?
5. Have I put myself in the other involved party’s place — be it a ride manager, vet, ride volunteer or other rider? If so, have I ever filled their position, i.e., ride manager, ride timer, etc., or have I just been a rider?
6. Am I making a hasty decision? At the ride is not a time to decide to file a protest. Time and reflecting over a problem are often the best routes to put things in perspective.
7. Have I thought about how my protest will impact the other party, myself and our sport, keeping in mind a written protest will become public and be published?
8. Is it really that important that the “toothpaste cap got left off”?
Filing a protest should be the last resort in resolving a conflict, after all of the previous questions have been considered. Other attempts to resolve the conflict should be first attempted. Endurance riding is not a professional sport; it is an amateur sport involving volunteer work. Many hours of volunteer time and work go into investigating and researching a protest. One protest will generate much AERC volunteer time, paperwork and expense.
If all other avenues have failed and a protest must be filed, it is important in your protest to identify the rule that is being broken. This is best done by referring to the AERC rules and regulations.
There must be a rule violation to back your protest. It is also important to get signed, first-hand statements documenting facts that pertain to the protest.
Because of the investigative and research time it takes to make a fair and honest judgment, you should not expect a hasty verdict from the Protest and Grievance Committee. A ruling on the protest may take a significant amount of time.
The AERC protest and grievance system serves a useful role within the sport and is available to all AERC members. It is a system developed to aid AERC members in conflict resolution. It is a useful system that — if not abused or overused — can serve its members well. Let’s have fun and everybody get along.