To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- January 2016

President's Letter
Ride Managers' Forum
Current Business Before the Board
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: But What If I Fall?

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

Some years ago, I was riding at a friend's ranch for a few days. This was a fun place with lots of people coming and going and lots of activity, especially as Christmas drew near.

One day, as I finished an early ride, I was untacking in the barn. Nearby, two little girls were preparing to ride. One of them, Amy, I had seen around before and she was a very good little rider; she had grown up around horses, with good instruction from knowledgeable and caring parents. The other little girl, Darla, had never been around horses much but was willing to learn.

They had caught up Scout, a gentle and very tolerant paint gelding, and Amy was showing Darla how to pick his feet, brush him down and tack him up. I finished cleaning up my guy and settled back to watch the girls.

They got Scout saddled, bridled and Amy was leading him over to a mounting block for Darla. Darla was almost beside herself with excitement. Amy instructed her carefully and Scout stood patiently. As Darla stepped onto the mounting block, reality suddenly hit her full force. She turned to her friend and said, "But what if I fall?"

The girls were talking about taking risks. Endurance riders certainly know a lot about taking risks. We take calculated risks every time we ride. I sometimes meet cyclists on one of the trails I ride. When I'm on a new horse that is nervous about the bicycles, I always stop and ask the cyclists to let my horse examine their bicycles. They are often surprised until I explain that the difference between their ride and mine is that mine involves two brains that know different things and have to learn to work together.

AERC's national convention is in mid-February this year, in Reno. If you have never been to one of our conventions, it is worth the risk. The details are in this issue of EN and online at The convention is both fun and provides access to information that you won't find easily anywhere else.

Typically, the excitement begins Thursday evening with a meeting of the AERC Board of Directors. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been set, but usually includes any immediately demanding issues facing our sport as well as a presentation by John Parke for new board members.

Friday morning starts early with Hot Topics where AERC members are invited to discuss endurance topics that vary from trails access to equine welfare. These meetings are important for board members to gain an understanding of what the members' opinions are on the topic du jour.

The rest of the day you will have an array of informative seminars and presentations by experts. AERC committees usually meet at various times in open session during the day so feel free to attend and participate or volunteer to serve. Throughout the day, you can shop at the Trade Show and Tack Swap where it's easy to tempt yourself with all sorts of horsey items and learn from the vendors about their latest products. The AERC staff conducts drawings every hour at their raffle stage for ride entries and other prizes. (Just listen for the announcements over the speakers in the Trade Show.)

Early Friday evening is the Regional Awards presentations, followed this year by a well-known local country singer/songwriter/entertainer. So, show up to cheer your regional winners and put on your dancing shoes.

The Friday night entertainment is sponsored this year by the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC), who will host their annual convention in conjunction with ours.

Saturday morning starts early with another Hot Topics and more informative seminars all day. Just before lunchtime, the AERC Board of Directors will meet in open session to elect officers and hear from the members. This is an open mike session and the board members all have pens and pads to take notes on your comments and concerns.

Saturday evening is the National Awards Banquet. You'll have a delicious meal and see all the national winners of our awards for horses, riders and horse-rider teams. Dress is usually at least semi-formal but you might see a variety of costumes. This is a very special occasion because in addition to the competitive awards that you see each month in Endurance News, the Hall of Fame (equine and rider) awards are presented as well as the Pard'ners Award, Anne Ayala Junior Scholarship, Volunteer Service Award and Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award. Now you have an idea what to expect, so take a chance. The risk is worth the reward you will receive in knowledge and memories. Whatever else you might do that weekend will still be there when you return home. But the memories of the convention will be with you for the rest of your life.

At the beginning of this, I was telling you about Amy and Darla. They were discussing the risks of riding and Darla said, "But what if I fall?" Amy responded, "But what if you fly?"

We figuratively fly on our horses at every opportunity. So this February, take the risk. Come to the AERC convention. You'll learn a lot, meet friends old and new, maybe get some new tack. You won't fall, and you might just fly.

Ride Managers' Forum: RO, SF, L, M, DQ and You

by Jan Stevens

as ride managers, it is our responsibly to turn in accurate results to the AERC office. Pull codes for horse and rider combinations that do not finish are an integral part of these results. Having accurate pull codes for these horse and rider combinations is very important.

The pull code information gleaned from the results are often used for research within AERC dealing with non-completions. Riders who research various rides they are planning to attend might use the information on pulls to determine how difficult a ride might be. Of course people wishing to sell and/or buy horses have also used these records.

Ride managers need to have a good rapport with all the control judges working their ride when it comes to recording accurate information on the rider cards.

It is equally important that the scribes understand the importance of recording all the information on the rider cards so that it can be utilized by the ride manager for the results, for the rider to see how their horse is doing "on paper," and for studies by AERC that utilize rider cards.

When writing this article I consulted an article written by Melissa Ribley, DVM (then chairperson of the AERC Veterinary Committee), since it is the control judges who are responsible for determining proper pull codes. Dr. Ribley emphasized the importance of recording these accurately so we can "learn why horses are not completing rides and what can be done to help improve completion rates."

Below are the pull codes used at AERC events:

Lame (L)

Metabolic (M)

Overtime (OT)

Surface factors (SF)

Disqualified (DQ)

Rider option (RO)

Rider option-metabolic (RO-M)

Rider option-lame (RO-L)

The codes L, M, and OT are fairly self-explanatory and are among the most often used codes.

Surface factors is a pull code to be listed for a horse that has a tack gall, laceration, abrasion, etc., to the degree that the control judge has deemed the horse not fit to continue.

The disqualified code is to be used by management for situations where the rider is disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct, an unruly horse, going off trail or breaking a specific AERC rule or a written ride rule.

Where codes become questionable and may be improperly used are with the RO, RO-L and RO-M codes.

The RO is to be used only if the rider cannot continue or elects not to continue due to that rider's illness, injury or personal circumstances. The horse must still be examined by one of the control judges (all horses entered in AERC-sanctioned rides are to be examined by a control judge regardless of whether the rider is electing not to continue) and the horse must be deemed "fit to continue" in order to use this code. As a ride manager it is important to explain this at the pre-ride meeting so that everyone is on the same page.

If upon exam the control judge determines the horse is not fit to continue, other appropriate codes (L, M, SF) should be listed. The RO code is to be used only when the horse has been examined and passed by the control judge.

Similar to the RO code, RO-L and RO-M codes are to be used only if the control judge has examined and passed the horse as fit to continue. If, after the horse has passed the exam, the rider then decides the horse is not right due to either a lameness or metabolic issue, then the RO-L or RO-M codes should be used.

From Dr. Ribley's article: "Most control judges strive to make the decision of pulling a horse from competition a team decision with the rider. Both the control judge and rider are working towards keeping the horse's welfare and best interest a priority. Rather than taking the role of policing riders and eliminating horses with little or no discussion, most control judges will enter into a dialog with the rider, listen to the rider's input, and come to a (usually) mutual decision with regards to what is best for the horse."

Clearly, the use of rider option pull codes is an important subject to discuss with your team of control judges. Making sure that all the pull codes are recorded correctly on the rider cards is important. At our Fort Howes ride, we have the control judge draw a double line through the rider card when there is a pull, and write on the line what the pull code is. This makes it easier to glean the information from the cards when doing the final results.

For those completing the ride we have the control judges write "Completed" on the card after the final inspection. In addition, we also have the control judges indicate on the card whether or not a rider is going to show for best condition.

In conclusion, the recording of correct pull codes is vital for the overall accuracy of AERC records. The control judge is responsible for assigning the particular pull codes or completions for each horse at AERC events. As ride managers, we are responsible for turning in complete results. Working together before the ride starts with your control judges so that all the information can be gathered for accurate results will make everyone's experience a good one.

Proposed Age Change for Junior Rider Sponsors

from the AERC Junior Committee

In February, at the AERC convention, the board of directors will consider a change to Rule 10 regarding Junior riders. Currently, Rule 10 states:

"10. All Junior riders in both full and Limited Distance rides, whether they are AERC members or not, must be accompanied by a competent adult (21 years or older) sponsor throughout the competition."

Adults are by law 18 years and older, and the Junior Committee would propose that the clause "(21 years or older)" be removed from the rule, allowing adults of ages 18, 19 and 20 to act as junior sponsors. This would not change AERC's insurance policy, nor would it create new legal issues.

The Junior Committee feels that this would provide additional viable options for junior riders to participate, and recognizes that there are adults between the ages of 18 and 20 who are experienced and competent individuals and who would meet parental approval as sponsors. Ultimately it is the parent or guardian that assigns a sponsor to their child, and this rule change would in no way alter that. Additionally, the ride manager may that determine that special cases require more stringent rules concerning safety.

Please share your comments with your regional director or any of AERC's directors-at-large before the AERC convention in February.

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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.