To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- December 2018

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
AERC Awards
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: A whole new year begins

by Paul Latiolais

December is here. A certain cheery song about sleigh rides, being good or bad, and snowfall is playing everywhere. People have begun putting up bright seasonal decorations and lots of blinking lights. Sales, sales and more sales!

We all know what that means!!! The 2019 ride season has begun!

Some of my friends have already headed for warmer climates more conducive to winter riding: Florida, New Mexico, Arizona. I am looking south, thinking about whether I can or should head down to the Death Valley ride between Christmas and New Year. Unfortunately, that ride is not going to fit into my training schedule this year. Perhaps next year, sigh.

This is the time of year when we always seem to reflect on what we have lost and what we hope to gain. Plants are dying to provide nutrition for the plants that will grow in the spring. We have lost rides and hope that this new season will bring new rides to take their place. I miss the rides we have lost, but at the same time am always excited about riding in new places at new rides.

And then there are old horses retiring and new horses to bring up. The horse I have been riding for over 20 years was retired from endurance last year. He still goes with us on training rides, but I rarely get to ride him. I sold his planned replacement endurance horse this year, because he just was not shaping up to be good at endurance.

His replacement is turning out to be a blast to ride. I have not done a 50 yet on him, so I don't know how well he will do, but he is so much fun to ride that I am not sure that I care. In any case, it should b

Now go out there and have fun riding your horse in the snow, or the rain, or the beautiful sunshine, whatever. In any case, have a great ride year.

Vice President's Letter: Consider joining a regional club

by Monica Chapman

When I first joined AERC 23 years ago, while living near San Antonio, Texas, I had no idea what a regional club was. I was happy with getting my monthly Endurance News and spending time with my local group of endurance friends. Every Saturday and Sunday morning of non-ride weekends we would meet and condition our horses.

A few years later I moved to the Kansas City area. I made new endurance friends. They told me I had to join Ozark Country Endurance Riders (OCER). I did. I started getting their newsletter and realized what an extensive awards program they had and how welcomed they made me feel.

Many of AERC's regions have regional clubs. To name a few (don't take it personally if I leave yours out): Texas Endurance Riders Association (TERA), Mountain Region Endurance Riders (MRER), Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides (PNER), Southeast Endurance Riders Association (SERA) -- and there are plenty more.

To find a local club near you go to the AERC website:

Regional clubs are a great conduit between our membership and AERC. Many times regional clubs are more in touch with the vibe of the local membership. It is my desire that AERC and the local clubs can create a direct link of sharing information and trends to greatly improve both organizations.

The local club I'm most familiar with, OCER, has a benefit program to help ride managers put on a ride and not lose money in case of extenuating circumstances. A ride manager has to apply to have a benefit ride. Once it's approved the ride manager will turn over all profits to the club. If the ride loses money the club will make sure the vets are paid and some other fees. I'm sure there are many other clubs across the United States that have similar programs.

Many regional clubs also host regional conventions. It seems they are usually held in the winter when the ride season may be less packed. I always enjoy going to the convention. It's a great way to see everyone after the holidays and share everyone's goals for the new year. Many conventions have great speakers and social hours.

For those of you who do not have a regional club in your region you should get a group together and consider starting one. You could go to conventions in other regions and see how those clubs run things. I'm sure any regional club would be happy to share their experiences and information. Endurance riders are a welcoming group.

One appealing thing about regional clubs is how nimble they can be in making changes. A club with 200 members can make rule and bylaw changes so much easier than AERC, with nearly 5,000 members, can.

Since AERC is a nonprofit organization with three employees that means a lot of what gets done is by volunteers. All AERC members need to volunteer in some way to keep endurance riding strong in the United States. Volunteering can be done in many ways: being a ride manager, serving on an AERC committee, serving on a regional club BOD, and any other way imaginable.

Feel free to contact me about volunteering in endurance riding. I'll be happy to help connect you with volunteer opportunities related to an interest you have.

AERC Awards: AERC's Bill Stuckey Award

Riders 65 and older are eligible for this annual award that honors one very tough endurance rider.

B ill Stuckey may have passed away in 1982, but he lives on in the award that carries his name. There is usually fierce competition for this rider mileage honor among veterans of the sport; Christoph Schork is tied for first place this year to date (his first year of eligibility) with perennial champ Dave Rabe.

Bill was a Southwest Region rider with a reputation as a true friend to many. As Marge Hentges, one of Bill's regional directors, wrote, "It was always a special treat to see him at an endurance ride. He would greet me with a warm hug and some far-fetched story that I knew wasn't true. His card trick was the highlight of the evening. No matter how many times I saw him do it, it would still fascinate me."

Bill rode a small but tough gelding, Desseray's Pride. "It seemed like Bill and I would end up having our own special race whenever we got together. He'd tell me he was going to take it easy on this ride, and I'd end up having to ride like crazy to catch up with him," wrote Marge. "It never ceased to amaze me how that little Desseray would haul that man up and down those mountains. A tough horse; a tough man.

"He never had to go around bragging on himself, telling people how great he was, or how much he had done. He didn't have to, we all knew. Just kinda came natural for him," noted Marge.

In the August 1982 Endurance News, Bill participated in a Q&A. At that time, Bill was 60 and ranked number one nationally.

Q. How did you first learn about endurance riding?

A. Well, I have been with horses for 50 years and then one day I heard of the Tevis Cup but I had never even been to an endurance ride before. I went to the ride expecting to get in without an application. I had two horses that were in condition and ready to ride. I was going to loan one out and that one loaner got me my application. But the horse was severely hurt a few days before the ride and couldn't be ridden but I still had my application for the Tevis!

Q. How was your first ride?

A. The day before the ride I broke my right foot in two places and was afraid that I wasn't going to make it. Everyone said I couldn't ride but then I saw Dr. Bill Routt and he said, "You just forget about that foot and you'll be able to ride just fine." I did and I completed the Tevis. Believe me, I only thought I had ridden before -- this was a whole new experience for me.

Q. How long have you had your horse, Desseray's Pride?

A. I've had Desseray's Pride since 1977. He's 10 years old now. I sold him in 1979 and then, luckily, I repossessed him because the buyer still owed me money. I didn't know his potential. I'm sure glad to have him back!

Q. What's his size?

A. He is 14'2 hands and 900 pounds. A great little horse with a fantastic disposition.

Q. Is he calm or nervous before a ride?

Q. Tell us about your crew.

A. I want to make it clear: my pit crew is the greatest! Pit crews never get enough credit, and they are the unsung heroes of endurance riding. I always use a large pit crew. Half doesn't know what to do but I always have one old-timer around to teach the rest. I have a boss pit crew. And a good pit crew is just about everything.

Q. Tell us the funniest thing that happened to you during a ride.

A. Once when I was riding endurance, I fell off Desseray's Pride and lost my glasses and my horse got away. By the time I found my glasses, the horse was standing there just looking at me.

Q. Have you ever had a serious problem while riding an endurance ride?

A. I use a McClellan saddle, the old army type. Well, I broke the strap that holds the stirrup and it almost put me out of business. Now I always carry an extra strap that can be used for many things, plus to help other riders out. You can mend many things with an extra strap.

Q. Have you ever been lost on a trail?

A. Once. And it sure was discouraging.

Q. What are some of the tricks you have learned to help you become an endurance winner?

A. I wouldn't care to comment on them. Some people might think they were dirty tricks.

Q. Why do you ride endurance, Bill?

A. I ride because I like to ride -- not for points or miles.

Q. How has endurance riding helped you?

A. I've met good people and I love people. We all have something in common. Riders are easy to talk with, we share the same problems and we help each other.

During his years of endurance riding, Bill contended with open heart surgery (before doing the Capitol to Capitol Ride) and back surgery. Bill died shortly after incurring a stroke just three miles into a 55-mile ride in Utah. As a friend wrote for a November 1982 issue of Endurance News, "We hope you will all remember Bill for the joy he found in endurance riding and the enthusiasm he brought to the sport."

She added, "There are very few of us who get to successfully choose the way we leave this earthly life, but Bill, bless his ornery hide, got his wish."

Julie Suhr was the Bill Stuckey winner in its first year, 1996.Dave Rabe has won the award for five years running, 2013 to 2017. To view the award history, see

December 2018 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.