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Endurance News -- February 2019

President's Letter
Education Update
National Championship News
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: What's ahead for AERC

by Monica Chapman

I hope everyone had great holidays and are looking forward to the new year. Make sure you have renewed your membership. No one wants to miss issues of Endurance News. The next few months are going to be busy for AERC.

The AERC Convention is coming up March 8 and 9, 2019, in Reno, Nevada. We are sharing convention space with the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) again this year. It's always great when we can share time and space with fellow distance riders. We have so much in common with NATRC. Please reach out and say "hi!" -- make new friends and learn about another way to distance ride.

The more distance riders of all kinds across the U.S. and Canada, the better. When it comes to trail issues, legislative affairs, veterinary trends, etc., we can all band together and promote distance riding.

Many of you have heard the words Safe Sport. It is an Act approved by Congress and the president in February 2018 in response to the Olympic gymnastics abuse scandal. AERC's legal committee and BOD members are researching how AERC is going implement Safe Sport training and what it will entail. I hope to have a meeting at the convention in Reno to give the membership an update on how AERC will proceed in complying with the Safe Sport Act. AERC has until July 31, 2019, to implement the Safe Sport Act.

The BOD has been busy with approving the budget, making sure we have the proper and adequate insurance in place, moving forward with our strategic plan, and clarifying rules. All of these are items are pretty boring but they are necessary items to keep an organization as big as AERC going. The organization would not survive without the mundane items being handled.

Every June Nick Kohut, DVM, and I attend the American Horse Council Conference, representing AERC and attending committee meetings. As a whole, horse ownership in the United States is decreasing on a yearly basis. Horse people are aging out and the youngsters are not taking up horse ownership in large enough numbers.

Nick and I have been proud that AERC's membership numbers have remained stable the past four to five years. A disturbing trend over the last few years within AERC is the downward trend in rider starts. Some of the decline can be attributed to cancelled rides due to weather issues and natural disasters. Some land managers are getting pickier about letting riders on trails in unfavorable conditions. All of these issues are out of our control.

Some of the lower numbers can be attributed to members not attending as many rides as in past years. The BOD will be looking into what AERC can do to reverse the trend. What the membership can do is to attend as many rides as possible. Ride managers are not going to be able to continue to put on rides if the attendance gets too low. Ask ride managers what you can do to help keep rides going.

As AERC members, we need to pull together and move the organization forward. AERC needs strong regional clubs, strong committees, and a strong BOD. Get involved with AERC. If you don't know what is needed or where your greatest attributes can help, contact your directors. I know if anyone contacts me about what they can do to help I will happily hook you up to do something.

It takes all of us members to make AERC a great organization. I hope you will all join me in striving for this outcome.

Education Update: Schedule some skill improvements this winter

by Heather Reynolds

As the winter wears on, you might take the opportunity to brush up on your skills as the "other half of the team" to your endurance horse.

All of us should be well-versed in some basic skills. As an endurance rider we sometimes get so focused on what the horse is doing, conditioning, diet, etc., that we tend to fall short at times in our own skills, exercise, diet, etc.

During these short days you could take advantage of some reading as well as perhaps a few lessons in someone's well-lit arena. That's a win-win -- you can get on a horse and become a better endurance rider.

The things that I feel are basic things that we need to have in our skill sets would include:

1. Diagonals. Knowing what a diagonal is, how to ride it, how often you might change it and being able to identify which diagonal you are on at any given time.

2. Leads. Knowing what a lead is, how to ride it, when to use each lead and knowing how to cue your horse to take each lead.

3. Both hands. Being comfortable, over varied terrain, to ride confidently using both hands.

4. Regain your stirrup. Being able to regain a lost stirrup at all three gaits. This will help you tremendously if you do not already have this skill.

5. The water bottle test. The ability to have the balance and coordination to take a water bottle out of your saddlebag at the walk and the trot and to be able to drink from it and return it to your pack.

6. Outerwear switch. The ability to remove a jacket or zip up sweater at the walk and the trot and tie it around your waist. Then you should be able to carry on, while putting it back on.

Just a few things to keep you busy while you may not be able to do your normal training. These skills will make your life easier and more relaxing if you do not already possess them. Take the time to do so, you will be glad you did when springtime finally comes.

National Championship News: Twenty Mule Team history

by Melissa Ribley, DVM

A n established, proven course is a key and valuable feature of an AERC national championship ride. With almost a 40-year history, the Twenty Mule Team ride fits the bill as an established ride for the 2019 AERC National Championship Ride at Twenty Mule Team on October 31 (50 mile) and November 2 (100 mile).

The first Twenty Mule Team ride was held in the late 1970s under the management of AERC Hall of Fame rider Jackie Bumgardner. The ride was hosted by a local club, the Valley Riders; some of the club members still volunteer at the ride today.

The trail went from the town of Ridgecrest, California, near Death Valley, through the Mojave Desert to the town of Boron, California, which was aptly named "The Boring Boron." Not a lot of imagination went into the trail planning as it followed the shoulder of the highway out to the desert town of Boron and then returned on the same trail.

Fortunately, the course evolved over the years to take advantage of the incredible vastness and beauty the Mojave Desert has to offer. For years, the ride was hosted out of the backyard of Jackie's home, until it moved to the Desert Empire Fairgrounds when Jackie begrudgingly conceded that the ride had outgrown her yard. (The ride had over 200 participants at that time.) The Twenty Mule Team ride has taken place every year since that first ride almost 40 years ago and has become well-known as a safe, "doable" ride for first-time 100-mile riders.

One might wonder how the ride came to be named Twenty Mule Team. For many people nothing symbolizes Death Valley more than the famous 20-mule teams. These "big teams" were used by Francis Marion Smith (interestingly, Francis Marion Smith is the grandfather to AERC member, endurance rider and mule rider Frank Smith of the West Region) to haul massive wagons carrying borax from Death Valley to the railhead near Mojave, California. This was a grueling 165-mile, 10-day trip across primitive roads.

While riding through the Mojave Desert on the Twenty Mule Team trail, you can almost imagine these impressive teams hauling those massive wagons down some of the very tracks you are traveling on. Although the teams only ran for six years, from 1883 to 1889, they made an enduring impression of the Old West and Death Valley.

With so much history behind the Twenty Mule Team ride, it has become a "must do" ride for many AERC members and has a well-established spot on the AERC calendar.

So add it to your calendar, too, and join us at this historic event this year in Ridgecrest, California, at the 2019 AERC National Championship Ride!

February 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.