To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
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Endurance News -- February 2016

President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Ride Managers' Forum
Junior/Young Rider News
Trails Post
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: An Organizational Primer

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

AERC is fortunate to have experienced some growth in membership over the past two years. Many are new to endurance riding and many are returning members. We welcome them all.

AERC is organized very much like an endurance ride. For starters, it's a nonprofit organization that functions mostly through the volunteer efforts of its members -- just like an endurance ride.

We have three employees at our office in Auburn, California. We have an executive director, Kathleen Henkel, who oversees the office and all the essential day-to-day management of our organization. Kathleen is like the ride manager at an endurance ride, paying our bills, managing the budget, handling board business and following their board list correspondence, ride sanctioning, and a host of other activities.

Troy is responsible for editing and layout of Endurance News, website updates, and monitoring AERC's Facebook page, to name just a few of her various jobs in the office.

You have likely spoken with Kyra on the phone. She works closely with the membership, answering incoming calls, inputting membership, printing membership cards, adding back mileage, etc.

The office staff works well together and all three are collectively responsible for the overflow with respect to registering members and horses; entering ride results; maintaining records for rides, horses and members, and responding to inquiries from members.

One of Kathleen's most important jobs is advising the AERC Board of Directors on the many decisions that must be made to keep AERC operating. For this important function, Kathleen keeps herself informed of activities and problems in our organization from all regions, just like a ride manager stays informed about what's going on at a ride.

AERC has a board of directors (BoD) consisting of 26 members elected by the membership. Eighteen of those members are regional directors, two each from the nine regions. Most commonly, one of those directors is designated as the region's sanctioning director, who assists ride managers in officially sanctioning rides through AERC.

The other eight members are directors-at-large, elected from the general membership.

Each year, the BoD elects a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer from the current board. The BoD makes policy decisions and rule changes for the benefit of AERC. Vice President Lisa Schneider describes the process in her Message in this issue. The BoD meets by teleconference monthly. The BoD is like the riders at a ride -- we sometimes get race brain and think we know and control more than we really do. However, all of the BoD members work very hard.

AERC has 20 standing committees, each of which deals with various aspects of our sport. The chairs of these committees are appointed by the President with approval of the BoD. The members of these committees are selected by the chairs. The committees and their members are listed in each issue of EN.

All board and committee members are volunteers who devote time and commitment to AERC. If you have interest or special knowledge pertaining to any of these committees and are willing to serve, contact the committee chair or one of your regional directors. The committees are like the crew at a ride; they do all the real work.

Problems or questions are usually brought to the attention of the BoD by members who contact their representative(s). Most problems can be resolved at a local level and your regional directors can help. But some problems have more general implications. For these problems, the director describes the problem on the BoD's e-mail list and the problem is discussed -- sometimes with a great deal of exuberance.

Board members don't always agree and can sometimes get pretty passionate about their respective viewpoints. It's like I said above, we get race brain and really want to win. The problem may then be referred to the appropriate committee which evaluates it and may return it to the board with a recommendation or a motion designed to solve the problem. Individual board members may also offer motions to the board.

The board also reviews and approves the budget and financial statements each year and prepares long-range plans for AERC, such as the Strategic Plan which is currently in progress.

Each committee has its own work which is ultimately submitted to the board for approval. For example, the Trails and Land Management Committee, led by Monica Chapman, develops cooperative arrangements with other national organizations to maintain access to the trails we ride.

The Veterinary Committee, chaired by Dr. Jay Mero, evaluates medication and procedures to keep our horses safe. The Research Committee, chaired by Dr. Jerry Gillespie, screens research projects to help us understand the functioning of our horses under the stressful conditions of our sport. The Education Committee, chaired by Dr. Susan Garlinghouse, provides seminars and training for new and experienced riders to help them learn the sport and compete more safely.

Each of the committees has a competent chair and hardworking members. AERC is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers supporting our organization and our sport.

I would be remiss in describing decision-making without mentioning one particular group -- the real ride managers. RMs determine the frequency and distances we ride and which trails. They put out water and file paperwork. They select control judges and enforce rules. They resolve most problems right there at the ride. They maintain the values which are the mainstay of our sport. RMs make some of the most basic and influential official decisions in our sport.

Finally, the ultimate power of AERC is in the riders and members who participate and vote. Riders decide which rides to attend. The decision to attend or not is ultimately based on whether the ride management supports the values, as advertised, of AERC. Those values include honesty and fair play.

Endurance riders do not like nitpicking rules and politics at their rides. Successful RMs have the same values and structure their rides accordingly. Likewise, members vote for delegates to the BoD based on their values.

So, the hierarchy in AERC is bottom up; members to BoD. We know it and respect it. So, choose your rides and place your votes.n

The New Reality

by Lisa Schneider

I've been asked by several members what the AERC Board of Directors does, how things get changed, and what the process is like, so I'd like to shed some light on what we do and report on the current business before the board.

The board has an email list where issues are brought up to see how widespread they are, ideas are exchanged, and options are discussed. Members can write to the board any time and this is encouraged so the board members know how you feel about a particular issue or idea.

If the issue turns out to affect just one region, then advice is offered and it gets resolved without much board involvement. Often an issue is assigned to a specific committee to research and then report back to the board. Other times an ad hoc committee is created to get a different perspective.

The committee then writes a motion, using our standard form, that communicates the purpose and proposed wording of the motion; whether it is new, a change, a bylaw, a rule, or a policy; background analysis and benefits; the impact it will have on the membership, budget, and the office; and the implementation plan. The motion goes to the board with two weeks for review and then it is voted on at the next board meeting. In the rare case where the motion requires a change in the bylaws, the membership must vote on it. The last time the AERC bylaws were amended was in 2003.

We've been having quite a bit of discussion on the topic of mileage, what our membership wants, and subsequent data gathering. The stats show the number of LD entries is on the increase while the 100 mile entries tend to be decreasing over past 15 years. Many thanks to Mike Maul for the data and graphs (note: see the paper copy of EN for graphs).

Here is the new reality: Our membership is aging. The median age (half greater and half lower) was 45 in the year 2000, 49 in 2007, and 52 in 2012. That means we are aging about three years in every five years, or fewer younger members are joining AERC. The U.S. population is also getting older but not as rapidly.

The drop-off in rider age for endurance is much steeper than the drop-off in rider age for LDs and more younger people are riding LD only than are riding endurance only.

The board is concerned and we are considering many options, some of which include:

1. Add a new division for trail riders. This could be a formalization of the "intro" rides and would be distances less than 25 miles. This appeals to riders who don't want to compete and don't care about placings or points. Another benefit is the USFS, the BLM, and other private landowners don't allow competitions in some areas, but a trail ride would be acceptable.

2. Redefine "endurance" to start at 40 miles instead of 50. Our bylaws say: "An ‘Endurance Ride' is defined as an athletic event in which the same equine and rider cover a specified course of not less than 50 miles within a maximum time limit proportional to 12 hours per 50 miles." (Note that since this would require a bylaw change, it requires a membership vote with at least 20% of the voting members participating.)

3. Develop a trail rating system that takes into account elevation change, technical trail, and weather. Some rides might be so tough that they are not do-able by the mid-pack rider, so these rides could be shorter or allow riders more time to complete. This takes into account that a flat, fast trail isn't the same as an Old Dominion- or Tevis-type trail.

4. Create a new mileage division in the gap between limited distance and endurance, 36 to 49 miles. Many courses are too technically difficult for a 50-mile endurance ride and many riders don't want to or can't ride a technical 50 in the 12-hour allotted time. Ride managers could also offer more multi-day rides with the reduced distances.

5. Offer stand-alone LDs. Our bylaws say an LD ride must be held in conjunction with an endurance ride. Stand-alone LDs are limited to being within 24 hours of an endurance ride. In many population-dense areas, 50 miles of trail isn't available or overnight camping isn't allowed. If stand-alone limited distance rides are allowed, then this could create the possibility for many more rides. (Bylaws change would be required.)

There are significant issues to resolve with each one of these ideas, and we need to find out what our members want and how to implement changes, if any, fairly and safely. More work definitely needs to be done to gather member input and consider all the consequences before any changes are made. As noted, some proposals require a membership vote.

AERC wants to know what you think: are you happy with the way things are, or do you think changes are needed? Do you support any of the ideas above, or do you have another idea you'd like the board to consider?

These issues will be discussed at the AERC Convention in Reno, so please attend if you can. If you can't, please make your voice heard by contacting your regional directors (see page 2 for contact info) or me ( with any feedback. We want to hear from you! Happy trails!

Sarah Holloway, BoD Rep

Hi, I am AERC's new junior representative to the AERC board. I am 12 years old and have been in AERC for four years, accumulating 1500 miles. Riding is my passion, but aside from that I compete with my dog and am in a Teen Leaders of Tomorrow Club.

I am from the Northwest and ride mostly in Idaho, even though I live in Washington. I hope to ride at many more rides in as many places as possible in the future. In fact, one of my goals is to ride at Tevis. My aunt, Connie Holloway, often sponsors me and helps me in this sport, though I also must thank Stephanie Teeter, Judy Bishop, Helen Bonner, and many more!

Noble Desperado (also known as Desi) and Finneas are the horses I plan on riding during this year. In my opinion, they are pretty much the best mounts I could ever have!

I am so excited to be this year's junior representative and I feel so thankful to be in this position. My job as junior representative is to give input from a junior point of view. This helps juniors have a voice, get more juniors involved, and helps juniors get connected. I hope to get in contact with other juniors (or anyone!) and share opinions. Feel free to contact me through email at I will attend conference calls and board meetings, but if I cannot attend an alternate will go in my place. The two alternates are Lily Turaski and Bryna Stevenson.

I will do my best to attend everything I can and be an active board member! I am thrilled to be junior representative and look forward to possibly being in contact with you. Happy trails!

Current Business Before the Board: Young Rider Division

by Steph Teeter, NW Director, and the Junior Committee

There is a small group of AERC members between the ages of 15 and 21 that are transitioning from riding in the Junior division to riding as adults in the Senior division in AERC's regional awards program. The Junior Committee would like to recognize this group as Young Riders with their own division. These are kids who are qualified to ride without a sponsor, either because they have turned 16 before the start of the ride year, or at age 15 if they have petitioned AERC to ride unsponsored and have met the criteria.

AERC's current policy is to have this age group compete in the Senior weight divisions (Feather, Light, Middle, Heavy) as soon as they are permitted to ride unsponsored.

We feel that because these riders are still young and primarily dependent upon adults for transportation, ride entries, etc., and they are typically limited by school schedules to summer rides, they are at a disadvantage when competing for recognition against adults in the Senior divisions. And while riding successfully is its own reward, it is fun to aim for the goals and awards that AERC offers. This is especially true for these young riders who have learned how to manage their horses and who understand the sport and are now permitted to ride their own ride, without a required sponsor.

Wouldn't it be more fun and challenging, and more equitable, if they had their own division to compete within? They are no longer juniors but they truly can't compete against seniors for regional recognition.

Awards and goals can be strong incentives, especially at such an enthusiastic and impressionable age. We feel that Young Riders having their own division to compete within will help retain these young AERC members in endurance riding as their lives become more complex, and their options for other sports and recreation increase.

We will be proposing that AERC create a regional Young Rider division (endurance and limited distance) for the 2017 ride season. Your comments are welcome. Let us know how you feel about this by writing letters or emails. You can send an email to the entire Board of Directors via the webpage under About AERC/Board of Directors.

Effective Communication

by Carol Thompson

What do you do when you receive a request from a fellow endurance or trail rider to write a letter to a local land manager about an issue?

Is this a letter asking that equestrian use be kept in the plan for a new area or changes to an existing area, or is it addressing a problem?

If you're writing about being included, have you offered to help and asked what you (and your friends) can do? Have you attended public meetings? Provided positive feedback?

Are you writing a letter about a trail issue, such as loss of trails, or a change to the trails that make them less pleasant to ride? Include your personal viewpoint, as well as how it affects the community.

First, gather your facts, including asking for more information from the requester if needed. Whoever starts the campaign should provide the following: What's the issue? What's already been done to attempt to resolve the issue? Have suggestions been made to solve the issue? What's the reason the land managers have given for not solving the issue? Why are horsemen still not satisfied? Do you understand the regulations that the land manager needs to follow? Can you put your own concerns in context of these restrictions? Do your own research; have your facts straight. Be respectful!

More places to gather information are the land manager (there are always two sides), Back Country Horsemen (BCHA), local horse councils and local saddle and trail riding clubs. Some agencies have electronic newsletters. For example, in Florida, the St. Johns River Water Management District sends out Water News, which contains news and notices.

And guess what? You can Google how to write a letter to government officials! How handy is that?!

When equestrians only show up when they're unhappy, or write letters or emails without knowing the background, it can leave a bad impression on the land managers, making it more difficult to develop a positive relationship. The first step should be to make friends and offer to help before there's an issue.

Trails E-mail Forum for AERC members: The forum is for members interested in all things trails to share trail stories, ideas, experiences, advice, and general brainstorming. This forum will stay positive and constructive. Please contact Monica Chapman, AERC Trails Committee Chair, to be added to the list:

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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.