To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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Endurance News -- April 2019

President's Letter
Membership News
National Championship News
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: How you can get involved

by Monica Chapman

By the time this article reaches the members, I'm hoping spring will have sprung. I know in my neck of the woods this winter is getting very monotonous. It seems like winter has been more cold and wet in most of the United States than usual. The AERC annual convention will be over and here's to hoping all members will be out riding their ponies, enjoying the companionship.

Some of the topics that were covered at the convention this year for the BOD: the downward trend in rider starts, Safe Sport, and the AERC Strategic Plan.

Ride starts and our Strategic Plan. Some important information in reference to the past five years of AERC rider starts are:

2014 - 17,332 rider starts

2015 - 17,483 rider starts

2016 - 17,039 rider starts (2.5% decrease)

2017 - 16,279 rider starts (4.5% decrease)

2018 - 14,684 rider starts (9.8% decrease)

There have been many ride days lost to weather issues, forest fires, trail loss, and other reasons. In reviewing the statistics in the Central Region -- which had a high number of ride days cancelled for weather issues last year -- there is an overall trend of fewer riders starting rides.

The decrease in rider starts is an issue the BOD will be delving into this year. It falls under our strategic plan which was first developed in 2015 but has not been put into full effect. A strategic plan is a guidebook for organizations to follow. The plan identifies how the organization should be run and gives a game plan on how to do that. It is a big undertaking that will require many hours of BOD members and other volunteers to make it happen.

I hope the membership will support your AERC BOD in this endeavor. The Strategic Plan can be accessed on the AERC website at

Safe Sport. Many of you have heard the words Safe Sport over and over again. Safe Sport is short for Senate Bill 534, titled "Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017." S524 was passed in February 2018. The U.S. Center for Safe Sport is the organization charged with helping organizations create a compliant Safe Sport Training Program.

In meeting with the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, AERC has found out that since we are no longer an affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, our requirements have changed and are not as stringent as originally thought. AERC will be creating our own policy and protocol on how to handle Safe Sport and will be relaying that information as soon as possible.

Support equine organizations. In February I attended Equifest of Kansas. It's a three-day horse festival with speakers, vendors, demonstrations, and competitions. It's always a great time and gives equestrians something to do in the cold winter weather. One of the thoughts that kept going through my brain was how the entire horse industry really needs to be supportive of each other.

The horse industry in the United States is becoming smaller all the time. AERC has stayed steady in memberships over recent years but as discussed above our rider starts are down. It's time for us to reach out to all the other organizations you can and be supportive, whether it's with your time or money.

While I was at Equifest I was thinking about all the equine organizations my husband and I belong to: AERC, OCER, TERA, AHA, AQHA, BCHA of Kansas, Kansas Horse Council, ELCR, Rails to Trails, UHCA, NRHA, and I know my husband belongs to some more that I don't. These are a lot of groups getting our funds. All of these groups promote equines, trails, or land conservation for equestrians.

If you can only belong to a few groups and, since you must be into riding trails if you are reading this, I implore you to please belong to AERC, your breed organization, Back Country Horseman of America (or your state trail group), Equine Land Conservation Resource (ELCR), and your state horse council if your state has one. All these groups work well together and have a common goal of saving land and trails.

Volunteer! One last request is to volunteer. Whether it's with AERC or another equestrian group, it is going to take us all to keep what we have now. No nonprofit organization can afford to pay employees to do everything that needs to be done. If you have a certain expertise let one of the committee chairs or ride managers know what it is. I'm sure if it's something they can utilize they will.

I know horses are a hobby for most of us and we just want to ride our horse but that isn't going to cut it anymore. Feel free to contact me about volunteering and I'll hook you up.

Membership News: Telling our stories

by Stagg Newman

The orange-pink sun sunk over the snow-capped high Rockies to the West. The lights of Denver 3000 feet below glimmered to the East. I was on an adrenaline high. I was leaving the last checkpoint on a ridgeline in the Rockies at the 1988 Race of Champions. I was going to finish my first 100! I was hooked for life on endurance riding. This is how I start telling my endurance story. How do you tell yours?

Many of us are passionate about our sport. Our sport offers:

-- Enduring partnerships that last 10 years years, or more

-- The sport for a lifetime, for ages 7 to 70 and beyond

-- Enjoyment and competition for the young and old, big and small, the close-knit family and the rugged individualist, all sharing the trail together with their equine partners.

Through endurance riding, we can learn or relearn what our forebears knew about horses -- when their livelihood and even their lives depended on horses. We can learn about our horses and ourselves in ways beyond what most riders can imagine. Why isn't our sport more popular?

Unfortunately, today our sport is in decline in the U.S., while endurance is growing worldwide. AERC ride entries, the best metric of the health of our sport, are down 35% in the last decade, 21% in last five years, and 10% from 2017 to 2018.

How can we reverse the decline? We can each share our passion for endurance and tell our stories to recruit new endurance riders.

For example, the National Championships at Biltmore last year had many terrific stories, such as the article and photos by Becky Pearman in the November Endurance News. I saw the joyful finish around 2:00 a.m. of 78-year-old Jan Worthington, completing her 137th-plus 100, with her son Guy, who won the heavyweight division. I saw smiling pre-teens completing side-by-side successfully with their parents in the 25.

We have an inspiring national champion pair in Holly Corcoran and Poete.

And perhaps most inspiring of all, the 27-year-old wonder horse PL Mercury (Merc), with his companion and rider Claire Godwin, DVM, who completed the 100 mile Triple Crown of the Old Dominion, the Western States Trail Ride (Tevis Cup), and National Championship in one year. Truly awesome! Let's tell other equestrians these stories.

Our sport embraces those who want to experience the sheer joy of riding beautiful trails. Riders can find fun on intro rides of 10 to 15 miles and/or ride at slower speeds and embrace the motto to "To Finish is To Win." For those who relish extreme competition, our sport offers the challenge of some of the toughest trails in the world such as the Western States and, my personal favorite as an Easterner, the Old Dominion, where I earned my 1000-mile buckle for 10 completions.

One can compete locally or aspire to compete for national awards. One can aspire to join the Decade Club, with 10 or more years of endurance competition on the same horse (the goal I have whenever I start a horse). And one enjoys true camaraderie as a rider or as a ride manager, or as a ride volunteer or as crew.

One secret of the sport I share is that you do not have to ride many days a week. The sport is great for the weekend warrior. If you are patient in developing your horse over several years, you can compete at high levels with only one serious conditioning ride a week together. Horses are far superior athletes to we humans and do not and should not have five to seven workouts a week like human athletes.

What "secrets" of the sport will you share to motivate new prospects?

Endurance riders lead in constructing and maintaining equine trails around the country. So if trails are your thing, you can work with other endurance riders and gain the satisfaction of preserving horse trails for all. And tell others!

One can compete on any breed. The first horse to complete 22 seasons was a quarter horse, Trish Harrop's Slam the Book. Larry Kanavy won the the Old Dominion on the quarter horse Charge Cindy. There are over 250,000 members of the AQHA in the United States. If just 2% of the AQHA members joined AERC, we would double our membership.

Robert Ribley rode the mule Miss Scarlet O'Hara to the AERC National Heavyweight Championship in 1992.

Lauren Saunby told the story of her mule Maggie Mae in an article which appeared in Western Mule magazine. Lauren's and Maggie's story also appeared in the February 2019 EN. Other mule owners have already contacted Lauren about endurance riding. Where can you tell your story?

For those wanting examples of how to create their own story or just a way to share great stories, Discover Endurance Riding is a 16-page full-color booklet that contains information about endurance riding and touching stories by many AERC members. This booklet can inspire you to create your own story. Call 866-271-2372 or email the AERC office at to order booklets that you can give to potential new members.

During AERC's fastest years of growth, about 25 years ago, my mentor Maggy Price created an "Each One, Add One" program, challenging each member to find at least one new member. So create your own story, tell others, publish in local media or breed magazines or on social media. For the electronically talented, create your own multimedia show. Share your passion with others. Get that new member.

Together we can grow our sport again. How will you share your story? n

Trails Post: Hike the Hill: Talking trails in the capital

The Hike the Hill meeting was February 10 through 13, 2019, in Washington, DC. Monica Chapman attended the meeting for the American Endurance Ride Conference as AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Co-Chair.

The Sunday meeting included informational speeches from the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. Jaime Schmidt talked about all the changes at the USFS. The new Chief of the U.S. Forest Service is Vicki Christiansen. Michiko Martin is the new Acting Director, Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources at U.S. Forest Service.

A new item on the USFS website will be a link to find SAWS training across the nation. Some statistics on the Forest Service:

-- There is currently $300 million in deferred maintenance on trails and bridges.

-- The USFS has 158,000+ miles of trail which is more than any other agency.

-- USFS has annual needs of $250 million but national disasters and lack of full funding has prohibited the USFS from devoting much time to deferred maintenance.

Deb Salt went over all the changes at the BLM. Secretary of Interior Zinke resigned over the last few months. David L. Bernhardt is the Acting Secretary of Interior. He has been nominated to become the next Secretary of Interior but has not been approved at this point. The agency is still in limbo.

Some good information to share when talking to land managers and legislators is how big the outdoor recreation industry is. Outdoor recreation is a $887 billion annual industry. Employment is 7.6 million jobs. Tax revenue created at the federal level is $65.3 billion and state/local revenue is $59.2 billion.

The rest of Sunday's meeting went over what to ask the Senators and Congress members when in their offices. Top asks:

-- To approve S.47 Natural Resources Management Act (which was passed by the Senate while we were attending the Hike the Hill event)

-- Vote for full appropriations for Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

-- Provide adequate funding for USFS, NPS, BLM, USFWS.

Monica visited the following congressional offices, all representing her home state of Kansas: Rep. Ron Estes, Sen. Jerry Moran, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Steve Watkins.

In addition, Monica met with Jeff McCusker, BLM Deputy Division Chief, Recreation and Visitor Services BLM, to discuss the MOU between AERC and the BLM. The MOU has been in process for two years. Jeff thought it should be finished up within 30 days.

Monica also met with Julie Broadway, president of the American Horse Council, to discuss Safe Sport and the upcoming AHC annual meeting. AERC is a member of AHC and has members on three committees of AHC.

April 2019 Classified Advertising



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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.