To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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Endurance News -- April 2015


President's Letter
Education Update


President's Letter: The State of the Conference

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

The year 2014 was a good one for the American Endurance Ride Conference.

A recent popular fad throughout the world has been to say, "Je suis . . ." ("I am . . .") in support of an important cause. For us, we can say, "Nous sommes endurance!" We are endurance! And we're back.

In previous years, we saw our membership drop and we struggled financially, sometimes. But, we have turned a corner.

AERC has seen its membership grow over the past several months at a 5% to 10% rate. Many of these new members are previous members who were hit by the recession of the past few years but realize the importance of our sport in their lives.

Many more of them are new members who learned about AERC through the AERC Facebook page or through the GreenBean Facebook pages. AERC members Jillane Baros and Sharalyn Hay started the GreenBean movement and it has spread.

The strongest regional growth has been in the Northeast Region where AERC member and former Education Committee Chair Patti Stedman has been holding clinic after clinic for new endurance riders to introduce them to the sport and to teach them the rules and strategies of safe endurance riding.

Patti's individual initiative has inspired other members to hold the same type clinics in their local areas, drawing new members into our family.

Education Committee Chair Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, is racking up air miles conducting clinics anywhere she is invited. She is the most charming and informative presenter you could imagine. And AERC is reaping the benefits of these initiatives.

The board also approved the hiring of a marketing manager, Candace FitzGerald, who was introduced to the membership at the convention. We have confidence that Candace will stimulate membership growth and brand name recognition of AERC in the coming year.

Each member can support our growth by presentations at 4-H or setting up a booth at a horse expo. The office will gladly supply materials. AERC finances are stable due to conservative board decisions and strong financial direction by Mollie Krumlaw-Smith, treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee. Mollie recommended changes in the accounting structure of AERC that resulted in a savings of $20,000 last year.

With the advice of John Parke, chair of the Legal Committee, the board also approved the formation of a Supporting Organization to accept and administer bequests and donations for the future benefit of AERC.

At the March 2014 meeting in Atlanta, the board passed a motion in support of horse welfare. Over the next several months, Veterinary Committee Chair Jay Mero, DVM, worked with the board and Rules Committee Chair Susan Schomburg to pass improved rules for protecting our horses with the best veterinary care available.

These rules will assist us all in protecting our best friends and saddle pals as we ride on in our sport.

Also at the March 2014 meeting, the board created an ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by AERC Vice President Lisa Schneider. This committee met regularly to develop a plan to guide AERC in the future and to insure continued growth and viability. The five Strategic Concerns of the plan are: Membership, Financial Stability, Trails Preservation, Education/Equine Welfare, and Governance.

The plan was presented to the board and membership at the convention for final approval. See page 7 for the final version of the Strategic Plan.

Lisa also worked with former AERC President Mike Maul, chair of the Technical Committee, to revise and improve the AERC website. They used their considerable professional expertise to examine other websites to incorporate the best and most user-friendly features for our website. You can expect a rollout of the new and improved website in the next several months.

This list of the accomplishments of the past year and brief explanation does not begin to describe the hard work and effort that these talented women and men put forth on behalf of all of us in AERC. They are all professionals and AERC could not begin to afford to fairly compensate their work in the open market. They are volunteers in service to AERC. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for volunteering their extraordinary talents and abilities through their contributions for the benefit of us all. When you see them on the trail, tell them thanks.

Last year, the board unanimously passed a motion to monitor international endurance riding events under the supervision of FEI and our national organization, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). AERC once again finds itself faced with a conundrum in dealing with horse abuse and rules violations in FEI's Group VII.

Most of you are aware of the three equine fatalities that occurred at the Al Reef 120 km (75 mile) endurance ride in January 2015, in Abu Dhabi. The specter of that tragedy has revived the conundrum of AERC's participation in international endurance riding.

Meg Sleeper, DVM, is chair of AERC's International Committee and a well-known international competitor. She has expressed her own dismay at the abuse of our sport in certain events in some parts of the Middle East. The board expects to rely on Dr. Sleeper's input as it seeks a solution to the question of how we can and should respond most constructively to the dilemma of Group VII misbehavior.

AERC continues to face challenges in maintaining the growth and development of the past year. But I am confident that the members and board will continue the efforts that have brought about the growth and prosperity of the past year. After all, Nous Sommes Endurance, Nous Sommes AERC! The state of our conference is good.



Education Update: 40 Ways to Be Friendly

by Aarene Storms

"Hi, I don't know you, are you new?" I heard my riding partner chirp from the far side of the rig.

Turns out that the new lady setting up camp next to us was an experienced endurance rider . . . but had just moved to our region from the far end of the country.

"I'm looking for the Endurance 101 clinic," the new lady said tentatively.

Boy, did she ever choose the right parking spot that weekend.

We included the new lady in the clinic -- and in our little camp potluck -- and in our training rides in following months.

She's not "the new lady" anymore. She's now our friend.

The best part of this little story? The original greeting wasn't offered by me.

I am comfortable talking for hours with total strangers . . . but at that particular moment I was coping with a leaky water tank, and wasn't feeling very friendly. Instead, a documented introvert stuck out her hand and started up a conversation.

Endurance riders have a reputation for being some of the most welcoming, helpful, and friendly equestrians around. When I asked endurance riders to tell me the friendliest things they'd heard as new riders, everyone had a story about someone who had said or done something to make them feel welcome.

Here's a list of "conversation opener" suggestions compiled from the stories people told me:

Greetings

-- Hi! Did you drive far today?

-- It's a beautiful day, isn't it?

-- I've seen you on Facebook -- it's good to meet in real life!

Offers

-- Have you had coffee yet?

-- Want a sandwich? I've got some chips here, would you like some?

-- Does your horse like carrots?

-- We're having a potluck tonight, want to join us?

-- There's room right here if you want to park.

-- That looks heavy. Shall I carry one end with you?

-- I'm sending my son over to help you put that up.

-- Want me to hold your horse so you can go pee?

-- His heart rate is up because he's still hot. You hold him and I'll sponge him.

-- Your spouse looks like he could use this (a chair, a hat, a ride back to camp).

-- You look like you could use this (ibuprofen, sunscreen, a warm jacket, a cold soda)!

-- Your horse looks like he could use this (a pan of mash, a carrot, a warmer blanket)!

Questions

-- Do you like your living quarters trailer? I'm thinking of getting one.

-- Is your horse a standardbred? My first endurance horse was a standie.

-- What an interesting saddle, what kind is it?

-- Your coffee smells good, can I beg for a cup?

-- Your fire looks nice and we brought cookies. Can we join you? i Could your truck give my truck a jump? i Do you have a hammer (duct tape, vet wrap, a cell phone) I could borrow?

Praise

-- That's a pretty horse. What's his name?

-- You (or your horse) handled that creek crossing nicely.

-- Your junior is so sweet. If she ever needs a sponsor, put my name down.

-- I'm so proud of you.

-- I'm happy you came to this ride.

Encouragement

-- Have a great ride today!

-- Just five more miles and you're done!

-- Looking good! Keep going!

-- She's doing great for her first time in camp.

-- You look tired, but your horse looks great.

-- Follow me, we're almost there!

Reassurance

-- My horse was a worrier too, her first season, and she figured it out.

-- You'll get used to it.

-- You can do this!

-- We'll wait for you to get back on before we leave.

-- You will be fine. Your horse will be fine.

-- You didn't hurt him, he's fine.

-- I'll ride with you.

Help us maintain our reputation: stick out your hand at the next ride and say something friendly. Who knows? Maybe you'll make a new friend.

Aarene Storms of the NW Region is a junior sponsor, Green Bean mentor, and author of Endurance 101: a gentle guide to the sport of long-distance riding (www.Endurance-101.com).



How far will you ride this year? Join AERC and we'll help you count the miles!



Endurance News is published monthly by American Endurance Ride Conference. Endurance News is sent without charge to AERC members as a benefit of membership in AERC. Subscriptions are also available to non-members for $40 per year within the United States, and $60 in Canada and Mexico. For those in other countries, subscriptions are available for $80. Single issues are $4 U.S.