To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
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Endurance News -- December 2020


President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
Classified Advertising


President's Letter: Start the new year right: say thank you

by Nick Kohut, DVM

We are in the process of putting a horrendous year to bed. Floods, fires, pandemic, civil and political unrest, economic upheaval -- 2020 will be a year none of us ever forget. Hopefully, 2021 will be significantly better.

AERC came through the year surprisingly well. Despite the large downturn in the number of rides, the organization has remained financially stable. All things considered, membership numbers were good, thanks in large part to the office staff and the Membership Committee. After years of effort, the AERC Legacy Foundation is up and running. A huge thank-you to Mollie Krumlaw-Smith and John Parke. We have signed MOUs with the BLM -- way to go, Monica Chapman.

As I write this, there are more than 120 rides already listed for the 2021 ride season, including the AERC National Championships and the AERC Young Rider Championship at Fort Howes, Montana. Blessings to all of AERC's ride managers for their perseverance. And a big appreciation to all of you who participated in events this year and were willing to abide by the required Covid-19 protocols.

My main focus for this column, however, is the unsung heroes who make our pastime possible: the volunteers. Before, during, and after every event, these people show up in all kinds of weather to try to ensure that each one of us has a safe and enjoyable time at the ride. They are giving up time and energy that they could put towards other interests. They are spending their own money on travel to and from the ride. Some of them have no real connection to horses. They don't own any. They don't ride. They are helping out of the goodness in their own hearts.

It distresses me when I hear stories of volunteer abuse. I have heard of volunteers being left out in the middle of nowhere without any supplies. No food. Nothing to drink. Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories of volunteers being verbally abused by riders. I understand that riders can get frustrated during a ride. You get off trail and feel the issue was due to trail markings. Or you come upon a spotter on trail who cannot help you figure out where you went off trail because they do not know the trail. The wrong numbers are written down or calculated incorrectly and your time to go back out on trail is not accurate.

None of these situations warrants flying off the handle on a volunteer. It would not be the first time that a key volunteer has quit on the spot because of callous remarks, leaving a ride manager in the lurch.

Think before you speak. Take your concerns to ride management.

I have a challenge for each and every one of you this new ride season. Do something extra special for a ride volunteer. Take some snacks for those at the timing tables. Arrange with ride management to buy some refreshments for those that mark or unmark the trail. Give a can of bug repellent to one of the spotters. Write a personal thank-you note to a volunteer -- not a text or an email, but an actual snail-mail card or letter. Be creative.

Let's show all of our volunteers how much we value what they give to our sport.



Vice President's Letter: Happy holidays, horse people!

by Michael Campbell

Christmas is just around the corner -- what an unusual year we've been through! Of course, the global pandemic is probably at the top of everyone's list of bizarre happenings, followed by one of the most contentious and divisive presidential election years ever. The side effects of the pandemic include disrupted business activity, especially for the service industry, extreme economic fluctuations and disrupted social functioning.

A year ago, we would have found it unimaginable to walk through a store and see everyone in face masks. We have also seen closed schools, working from home, closed restaurants, bars and offices.

A side effect of the divisive politics found the Board of Directors dealing with complaints about flags, horse blankets and political signs to the point of creating a special subcommittee to study inclusiveness in AERC.

We have seen rides canceled, some awards canceled, and our national championship canceled. We have had to modify the structure of our rides to forgo meetings and communal dinners and to include social distancing and extra sanitation measures.

The Sanctioning Committee must review every ride to confirm that our organization is in compliance with local, state and federal guidelines in order to maintain our liability insurance and protect AERC. And, of course, our ride managers have the multiple responsibilities of protecting riders, their ride and our organization.

All kinds of holiday activities have been minimized for most of the past 10 months.

So how are we going to celebrate the seasonal joys of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid Al-Fitr or even Festivus (for those who remember Jerry Seinfeld)?

(You know, despite any restrictions, every little kid is still going to want to see a pony under the tree.)

Faith. Faith is the belief in things unseen. Everyone of us has started a ride without having ever seen the trail and with faith that following the ribbons or other markings will bring us and our horses safely to the vet check or finish line. We have faith in the training, conditioning and character of our horses. We have faith in the integrity of our peers and organization. We have faith in our own ability and determination to follow our trails to their successful completion.

Endurance. Endurance is the will to persist in the face of hardship. We endure and overcome the hardships of training and preparing for our sport. We endure and overcome mechanical failures on the way to and from rides. We endure and overcome hardships on the trail and even stop to assist our fellow riders in the hardships that they encounter.

Think for a minute. What is the most remarkable example that you know of someone persisting and overcoming hardship? My example is a woman who is a leader in our sport. This woman has lived with a heart transplant and survived the coronavirus. She rides endurance and manages rides. She always has an encouraging word for everyone. Her spirit is indomitable. Few of us could manage what she has endured and still thrives. When I find myself wallowing in self-pity, I think of Angie and I try harder.

My parents grew up in the Great Depression. My dad's parents were poor sharecroppers. My mom was from a broken household and lived in poverty. My mom told me how she and her brother only got an orange on the Christmas tree for their gifts.

We (still) live in the wealthiest society the earth has ever seen. We travel on planes and in cars and have homes with climate controls. We have education and health care like no previous generation ever. My grandmother was very proud that she had completed the 8th grade -- much further in school than many of her peers.

As endurance riders, we have no room for self-pity. So, how are we going to celebrate, and survive?

My mother used to quote King Solomon when times were tough in our family. King Solomon was asked by a sultan for words of wisdom that would always be true, in good times and bad. Solomon replied, "This, too, shall pass away." So, we shall have faith and endure and this, too, shall pass away. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Eid, Happy Kwanzaa and . . . Festivus for the rest of us.



Classified Advertising



HORSES

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CYPRESS TRAILS ENDURANCE HORSES. Well seasoned DJB horses and slow-started prospects available for sale. 40 plus horses to choose from! KM–the human electrolyte for sale. TX. www.horseridingfun.com for sale lists or call 1-800-228-8768.

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MISCELLANEOUS

ENDURANCE CONSULTANT. Conditioning, racing, veterinary, sales. Michele Roush Rowe, DVM. 530-292-1902, CA. bcm@gv.net

NEWS FLASH!! These cool vintage events are now yours on DVD: 1986 North American Championship, 1988 N.A. Championship, 1989 N.A. Championship, 1989 ROC, 1991 ROC, 1992 ROC, 1992 AERC Natl. Championship, 1992 World Championship, and Long Distance Riding (training video with Darolyn Butler, vets: Dane Frazier and Matthew Mackay-Smith). Check out the full list of training videos . . . some great sales . . . visit www.horseridingfun.com or call 1-800-228-8768, TX

TACK AND EQUIPMENT

TREKK-ETT SADDLE BAGS, "So slim and snug you don't even notice!" Styles: boot bag, standard, 2/1 trail, all storage and deluxe. Quality and durability that our sport demands! Fits a variety of saddles. Pommel and cantle designs. The Production Room or Jaime Ruff on FB or jaimeruff@ymail.com/334-518-0322.


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.