To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- November 2016


President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Trails Post
Classified Advertising


President's Letter: Christmas presents for all my friends

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

Some presents are easy to choose. The children in your life have been telling you what they want for the past six months.

I can ask most close relatives and friends or have a pretty good idea what will give them pleasure. Then I put those ideas through the wife filter for confirmation before purchasing anything. These are all physical trinkets that anyone could give.

I was raised in a family where Christmas was a special time for giving and receiving things you didn't expect the rest of the year. As children, we woke up very early on Christmas Day eager and excited to see what Santa had left under the tree.

When you get to a certain age or level of maturity, you have all the "things" you want or need. When someone asks, it's hard to think of anything you really want for Christmas. That never happened when you were a child. A friend recently sent me a reminder that no matter how big your house, how nice your car or how many such "things" you have, we all end up the same.

In our sport, we sometimes become focused on specific riding goals: finish a particular ride, top ten, a win or BC. But a few months or a year or so later, those achievements mean little to the rest of our riding world.

We still want to give and receive something special, but our tastes change as we grow up. Some things that do not change are the need for acceptance and the desire for approval by our friends and peers; meaningful signs of the true value and importance of our friendships. Applying this principle is easier said than done. You must spend some time considering what sign of approval most accurately reflects the character of your friendship. You can't send a quick and easy message saying, "I really like you and you're a great friend." No, you should honestly consider how that friend reassures your doubts and shares the pleasures of life; the times you were afraid and the times you laughed or smiled together.

Then you must evaluate the best way to express your thoughts to your friend. Sometimes it's with a symbolic gift or maybe just a sincere note. But it should summarize the true value of your friendship.

Some years ago, I was planning to trade in a truck, and a cowboy friend offered to buy it from me. He was willing to pay more than the trade-in value because he knew I had taken excellent care of the vehicle. It was a very good deal for me, but I told him no. He was slightly offended and perplexed until I told him that our friendship was more important to me than any truck or extra money from its sale. If I sold him that truck, someday soon, something would go wrong with it and I would feel guilty and he might feel a bit resentful. Our friendship was worth much more to me than the truck or the money.

I have noticed that my closest friends give and do for me the things they would like for me to give and do for them. For example, on Valentine's Day, my wife gets me mushy cards. So, I have learned that she really likes to receive elaborately expressive cards of affection. Another friend sends me clever and humorous computer-generated cards for various holidays. I'm not near as good at finding such things as my friend, but I give it a shot.

Most of the year, I'm too busy with the demands of daily life to take time to appreciate the many kind things my friends do for me. I automatically reciprocate and we move on.

This year, at this time of the year, I plan to let my friends know how I truly appreciate their friendships. I will try to notice specifically the unique properties and contributions of each friend. The gifts and messages are likely to be subdued, perhaps understated, but they will be sincere and honest reflections of the value of each relationship. There may not be big bows and fancy wrapping paper, just a simple acknowledgement of their contributions to my life.

I'll start with those of you reading this letter. I never know how many people actually read these letters. From time to time, one of you sends me a note or tells me at a ride that you liked a particular item. But now, for all of you reading this letter, please accept my sincere thanks. I hope we meet soon on the trail.

We possess few things in life with any certainty. Our time and memories are two such things. That's why we are all in this sport -- to make great memories of our times on our horses and with our friends. We will have these memories forever.

Happy holidays to all endurance riders and their horses.



Vice President's Message: New season, new goals

by Lisa Schneider

December 1, 2016, starts the 2017 ride season and I hope this finds everyone looking forward to new goals for the upcoming year. Whether you want to get to your first intro ride, try your first 50 or build a base for a future 100, all these start with that first step.

Consider using the buddy system to increase your own confidence or be a riding partner for someone new to the sport. This enables riders to feel safer out on the trail and can also benefit you by setting common goals.

The AERC Mentor Program is being enhanced with a new Riding Partner program. These riding buddies may not have as much experience as the AERC mentors, but are willing to share their knowledge and learn together. To see the Mentor/Riding Partner page, go to aerc.org/Regional_Mentors. A map has been added to show where riding partners are located.

It's exciting to see that there are already 21 100-mile rides on the calendar for 2017! There seems to be a resurgence in 100-mile ride attendance with more people taking the challenge. Speaking of challenges and goals, here is some extra motivation -- there is a new ride on the schedule for October 2019 called the Best of the Best 100.

This ride is scheduled three years out because it has horse and rider team qualifications for entry: five 100-mile completions with one in the top 10. One multi-day ride of three or more days can count as one of the 100s but all days must be completed with the same horse. The requirements refer to lifetime miles with that same horse and rider team.

The ride managers are Cindy Simcox and Becky Hackworth, who between them have over 20,000 endurance miles and they've both completed many 100-mile rides so they know what it takes to put on a premier event. Recruit your buddies and make a plan to qualify! Check out the AERC ride calendar to find 100-mile rides or multi-days near you to use as qualifiers.

The Best of the Best may evoke memories of the long-ago Race of Champions -- read more about the ROC on page 12.

The Best of the Best ride will be held in the Pacific Southwest Region in southern California and features a loop trail in rolling high desert terrain. The base camp will be in the same location as the Twenty Mule Team 100, but will use different trails. The Twenty Mule Team 100 is a great qualifier and is on similar terrain so check out the upcoming ride on February 25, 2017.

There is also a separate 25/50 two days before the 100 so your crew can bring a mount and ride, too. The base camp is at the fairgrounds, which has stalls available. This area is about halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas so there is plenty to do. There are lots of non-horsey activities with thousands of acres of four-wheel and motorcycle riding and a locale steeped in history. Nearby Death Valley is famous for being the lowest elevation in North America. You'll also find gold mining, wild burros, and interesting geology; the local town is home to several museums.

You may even want to stay after the 2019 Best of the Best and do the nearby Bill Thornburgh two-day ride.

Not everyone is able to or wants to do a 100-miler and that's just reality. If you have a crew member or friend who wants to dip a toe into the sport, there are more than 60 intro rides already on the 2017 calendar. Intro rides are usually 10 to 15 miles in length so they are also perfect for kids and for new or young horses, or those not yet fit enough for limited distance rides. Many intro rides are held in conjunction with multi-day endurance rides, so doing an intro ride on one of the days is also a good leg-stretcher in between 50-mile rides.

No matter which end of the spectrum your interests lie, there really is something for everyone in this sport. I hope to see you at the AERC National Convention on March 10 and 11 at the Hilton DFW in Grapevine, Texas. Happy trails!



Laying out a trail for a new endurance ride

by Monica Chapman

QI've been conned into putting on a new ride. I'm a first-time ride manager. The location is a trails system I occasionally condition on but don't know all that well. I need help! I don't know how to lay out trail or who to contact to get started.

After you have contacted your AERC sanctioning director and picked a tentative date you need to visit the land manager of the property. While there you need to ask about the availability of the date you desire, ask for a map of all the trails and their distances, and most importantly ask the land manager if there is a local trails group that maintains the trails.

We will assume the date works out fine for both the land manager and the AERC ride schedule for your region. The land manager will have you fill out some kind of permit or application depending on who owns the property.

If it is federal property you will be filling out a permit. The U.S. Forest Service (USDA) has five-year permits that are favored by the employees in Washington, DC. If the district ranger is unfamiliar with this, feel free to contact me and I can help with this process. Note that even though you may receive a five-year permit the U.S. Forest Service may revoke the permit if your ride has major problems.

The BLM has a 10-year permit option with the same cancellation option. The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service may require you to put on the ride one year to see how it goes before they will allow for the multi-year permits.

Once you get the application/permitting process handled then you need to start planning your trail layout. I advise you get other experienced AERC ride managers, experienced AERC riders, or your AERC sanctioning director to help you with picking how to lay out your trails.

Trail layout can be very regional. Many regions have different ideas of what is standard and expected. If your ride happens to be on trails that can easily become muddy and boggy with little rain I recommend working with the land manager to establish an all-weather trail. The all-weather trail could include local gravel roads, forest service roads, rails to trails, or any other mud-proof trail available.

That trail may have to be used over and over throughout the day. This would be your fall-back plan if you get so much rain right before the ride that the land manager is going to close the trails.

The land manager needs to understand that many times riders travel many hours to compete. The riders take time off work, spend money on fuel, and all the other expenses related the a ride. The last thing anyone wants to happen is to cancel the ride once all the riders have arrived.

The riders may do a little bit of groaning over riding the same trail multiple times but they would rather do that than have to turn around and go home.

Some rides do not have the option of an all weather trail. In these situations canceling the ride may be the only option. Riders cannot be out on trail tearing it up or getting into dangerous situations.

Once you have picked your trail layout you need to ride the trail to make sure it flows and it is doable in the allowed time by AERC. I advise you to ask a number of different level riders (turtle, mid-pack, and first place) to ride the trail for you. These riders can also help you decide on loop order.

The biggest issue with trails is trail maintenance. For some reason in AERC it seems like our ride managers get stuck doing all the trail work where they put on their rides. I would like to see that change. Ride managers spend so much of their time and money putting on the rides that it would be nice to see other AERC members step up and do or help with trail maintenance.

If the land manager gave you contact information for any local trail groups I would contact them for help. Sometimes they can be negative and not want groups out on "their trails." Many times the groups feel possessive because they have put all their blood, sweat and tears into maintaining the trails, then a competitive group comes in and tears them up.

Sometimes they are completely right in this assessment. What AERC needs to do is show how we can be their partners. Some ride managers offer to donate a certain percentage of any profits to their group. Other times when a ride manager and group really hit it off they can get the trails group to do some volunteering during the ride with the ride manager making a donation.

Many riders will happily make donations for trails maintenance if asked. You can put a bucket out for donations or add it as an option on the ride entry. One thing that is certain is you as the ride manager need to coordinator any trail work days you do on the trails with the local groups. It cuts down on duplicate trail work and builds camaraderie between the two groups.

When you plan your trails work days contact your AERC State Trail Advocate so they can alert other AERC members to help. Many times the local trails group can give you some really good insight on the condition of the trails depending on the time of the year your ride will be which may determine how you want to set your trails up.

If your trail does not already have a trails maintenance group contact your AERC State Trail Advocate for your state. They will help you reach out to other AERC members to get a group started. You will need to connect the land manager and the new leader of the trails group so they can begin a great new relationship. Like I said, it should not be up to the ride manager to be head of trail maintenance for all trails. Good luck with your ride and feel free to contact me for help.



November 2016 Classified Advertising



Classifieds

HORSES

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