To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
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Endurance News -- July 2018

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
Education Update
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: Positive messages from USEF

by Paul Latiolais

On December 29, 2017, I sent a letter to Will Connell, USEF Director of Sport, after multiple horse deaths in the UAE last fall. In that letter I stated our concerns along with some possible solutions. I received Mr. Connell's response in January, which was shared with the board. I subsequently spoke to Mr. Connell on the phone, and then met with Kristen Brett, USEF Director of Dressage and Endurance Programs, and Joe Mattingley, Chair of the USEF Endurance Sport Committee. Both Kristen and Joe attended the convention and the Hot Topics discussion.

In my discussions with Mr. Connell, I found him truly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East, and actively engaged with the FEI to help identify and correct the problems to the extent possible.

In his letter, Mr. Connell wanted to clarify some of the points I raised so he called the FEI and felt they were able to provide some details and valuable insight in to how UAE's Emirates Equestrian Federation is approaching the governance of endurance in their country. Sadly, at the time of his writing there were a number of fatalities already for the season, including two at international rides. He said that the FEI had assured USEF that they continue to work closely with the UAE Federation to ensure that both FEI and national rules protecting horse welfare are adhered to.

Mr. Connell stated, "Of course these are unacceptable, a sentiment shared by all parties, and we agree that fatalities damage the reputation of equestrian sport in general and endurance in particular. Whilst there are not yet statistics in the public domain that analyze the impact of the procedures put in place by the FEI and the UAE during 2017 the reports are that there has been a very positive change in attitude and far more effective communication and the sharing of information with the FEI. There has also been the introduction of training and education courses for officials, grooms, trainers and athletes in UAE.

"I know the FEI will be monitoring these changes and the impact they have. In March 2015 the FEI suspended the UAE National Federation, demonstrating that the FEI will take severe measures if needs must. The US Equestrian Federation has full confidence in the leadership of the FEI and supports the steps they have taken to address horse welfare in Group VII. However, US Equestrian will continue to require that at the appropriate time the FEI backs up progress reports with analytical facts.

"Like the AERC, US Equestrian applauds the steps taken by HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan through the Bouthieb Initiative. These initiatives will contribute to the sustainability of the sport of Endurance and we would support the FEI in promoting these initiatives throughout Endurance."

The information that Mr. Connell received from FEI is that the UAE Federation has taken action to minimize injuries and fatalities at its national events, and introduced increased sanctions in February 2017, in the form of fines, penalty points and suspensions for:

-- Catastrophic injuries and metabolic issues (for both athlete and trainer)

-- Non-compliance with mandatory rest periods

-- Breaches of equipment and weight regulations

-- Unauthorized substitution of athlete or horse

-- Unauthorized veterinary treatment.

It was Mr. Connell's understanding that the UAE Federation is the only National Federation (NF) that imposes additional sanctions on athletes and trainers linked to eliminations and minimum rest period offenses.

Where he felt the UAE Federation could be more effective is in communicating what sanctions have been applied at a national level and also the extent of the drug testing they are carrying out at national level. US Equestrian has asked the FEI request of the UAE that this information be published. The FEI have agreed to make this request.

The second part of my letter to Mr. Connell proposed some rule changes. He indicated that US Equestrian completely supports the proposal to remove or significantly decrease the speed requirement linked to the Certificate of Capability. They have lobbied the FEI regarding this issue and will continue to do so.

In discussions with the FEI, Mr. Connell has asked their Endurance Technical Committee to consider how athletes that maintain a high finishing percentage could be recognized. Suggestions from AERC as to how US Equestrian and AERC could work together to recognize U.S. athletes and horses that achieve sustained completions are welcomed.

He said my proposal regarding when trainers are suspended, they be suspended from training "any of the horses listed under them" makes perfect sense. It is his understanding, following discussions with the FEI, that the principle applied (keeping in mind this is flexible and each case would be looked at separately, on its merits) by the FEI is that trainers are sanctioned, including suspensions, when there are two or more doping violations recorded against them.

He agrees with the wider endurance community that trainers must be held responsible for their actions and USEF will continue to be proactive in pushing for this. US Equestrian successfully lobbied for an FEI rule change, approved by the 2017 General Assembly, that states that the trainer as well as the athlete receives 100 penalty points if the horse is not brought to the Final Horse Inspection.

Mr. Connell acknowledged that there is a necessary rule change process that, as an NF, USEF needs to follow with the FEI. He welcomed suggestions and proposals which USEF will channel through the Endurance Sport Committee to the FEI.

He said that USEF joins AERC in looking forward to a wonderful World Equestrian Games in September, which celebrates and promotes the rich tradition of endurance that exists in the United States.

USEF reports they are pleased a number of U.S. officials have been appointed to officiate at the WEG endurance competition and are sure they will maintain the high standards USEF and AERC expect of endurance competitions in the United States.

Vice President's Letter: National Championship goals for the mid-pack rider

by Monica Chapman

For those of you that know me and my soulmate, Rushcreek Atley (Rushcreek Kip x Kuda Freckles), you know he is not your typical endurance horse. Atley was the first Quarab (half-Arabian, half-Quarter Horse) the Rushcreek Ranch of Lisco, Nebraska, bred and registered. He definitely took on the physical characteristics of the Quarter Horse. He is a grey gelding that is 15.2 hands and around 1150 to 1200 pounds.

When I bought him as a 3-year-old he was 14.3 hands, buckskin, and of moderate build. He kept growing in height and bulk until age 7. At age 12 he has turned into a lightly flea-bitten grey. I guess that's what color you get when you breed a grey Arabian to a grulla Quarter Horse. Atley is a very kind, patient and tolerant horse. He gets along with all horses and is really easy to be around. He is not high-maintenance and is super laid back. He does have the get up and go when you ask. Atley is also the strongest horse I have ever owned.

My goals for my endurance horses have always been to have a 3,000 mile and a Decade Team horse. I want them to have long, healthy and happy lives. Atley likes endurance but he doesn't have the drive to go day after day after day down the trail. I enjoy his company so much that I won't ask him to do every day of a multi-day ride because I am positive he would end up burned out.

Atley is also so big that he can not do heat, humidity and mountains all at the same time. He can do two out of the three but he can't cool his bulk out if you ask him to do all three. I accept that and work around it by picking rides where he can be successful. I try to pick goals that involve completing rides and not worrying about where I place. That way I am not temped to override my horse.

I am a goal-oriented person and try to pick a goal for me and each horse I compete on at the beginning of each ride season. I also have long-term goals. A long-term goal of mine is to finish a ride in every state. I prefer it to be on my own horses because I am not one who has the confidence to jump on an unfamiliar horse and compete.

Atley and I have completed two AERC 50 Mile National Championships: the 2014 ride in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and the 2017 ride in LaVeta, Colorado. You may ask, "Why not try the 100 mile ride?" I get really bad motion sickness riding in the dark and I don't find that a fun challenge anymore. I have finished a few hundreds. I am proud of that accomplishment and I understand what it takes to have a 100 mile horse and how to get them through the ride but 100s are a thing of the past for me.

I got to wondering how many other AERC members have finished multiple times on one horse at the AERC National Championships so I put a very unscientific question on Facebook. Here are some of the other teams who have finished multiple times.

-- Roxanne Ciccone on FM Spirit Wind, 50/55 mile, 2001, 2008, 2010

-- Lisa Green on LR Amana Tabi, 100 mile, 2008, 2010

-- Gwen Hall on Sizedoesntmatter, 50 mile, 2013; 100 mile, 2017

-- April Johnson on Santana, 100, 2008, 2012

-- Christoph Schork on GE Stars Aflame, 50 mile, 2009, 2013; 100, 2011, 2017

-- Jody Welch on Grey Etude, 50 mile, 1999, 2000.

This is what Christoph Schork had to say about the AERC National Championship and his mare GE Stars Aflame, "The NC are, at least they should be, the premier AERC event of the year. Participation in it helps AERC to grow. Besides a handful of other 100 mile events in the USA, the Nationals draw upon the best horses in the country. GE Stars Aflame is a no-nonsense mare. She loves competition and always gives her best. On top of it, she is a lot of fun to ride. She is a true partner in difficult endurance races."

I now have a new goal for me and Atley and that is to see how many 50 mile AERC National Championships we can complete. This fall Atley and I will be traveling to North Carolina for the 50 Mile National Championship at Biltmore to try to finish our third national championship. I feel many people don't enter the National Championship ride unless they plan on winning. I look at the National Championship Ride as the epitome of the AERC motto "To Finish is to Win." In years past riders would travel across the U.S. to participate in the Race of Champions. We need to get that feeling back at being excited and proud to participate in our National Championship.

I understand that I am lucky to live in the middle of the United States, in Kansas City. It makes it easier to get to many different ride locations without more that two days of travel. I feel like the National Championship should be a bucket list ride each year.

I hope many other riders will plan on joining me in Asheville, North Carolina, in September for the Southern hospitality and fun.

Here is the important information you will need to know about the ride.

The 50 is September 20, 2018, and the 100 is September 22, 2018. Open rides are also going to be allowed this year. A 50 mile open ride will be September 20, 25 mile open ride will be September 21, and an open 100 mile ride will be September 22, 2018. Make sure you trailer pool with your best human and horse friends. It's a great way to have fun and to help save on expenses.

Education Update: An AERC clinic format that works

by Karen Wade

Since 2012, the Old Dominion organization has hosted a fall Endurance 201 clinic at my farm in Frederick County, Virginia. Each year we have modified the schedule and format based on feedback from facilitators and participants, and we now have a system that seems to be working well.

The first two years we provided lunch for everybody, which was very well received, but ultimately not worth the trouble and expense. Now we ask people to bring a bag lunch, and we have some snacks and drinks available. At first we used the "put up flyers at the local feed store" approach to recruit participants, but found that this attracted more "tire-kickers" than potential endurance riders. Now we limit publicity to the Old Dominion website/Facebook page/newsletter, AERC website and Endurance News, and a few local trail riding groups, so that only folks actively seeking information on endurance will find us.

We charge a nominal fee of $20 to cover costs such as portapotty rental. The registration form asks about previous riding experience, the horse the person will be using, and their endurance riding goals. Pre-registration is required, and I contact everyone before the clinic to find out more about their needs and expectations.

The first year we had speakers on various topics in the morning and a mock endurance ride in the afternoon, but found that to be a bit overwhelming for some people, with not enough time for questions and one-on-one interaction. Our current format is a one-day program on the Saturday three weeks before our fall Fort Valley ride, with the option to camp Friday and/or Saturday nights. We try to have no more than 15 to 20 participants, both due to parking constraints and to ensure that everyone receives individual attention. Each participant is given a ride packet containing a vet card, AERC literature and membership form, a sheet listing useful endurance-related websites, a sample packing checklist for an endurance ride, and other odds and ends.

The participants are placed in three groups, and from 9:00 a.m. to noon the groups rotate through six stations covering trailer safety, training and conditioning, tack and equipment, horse camping, crewing, and vet checks. The stations are hands-on as much as possible, with each manned by an experienced (generally gray-haired) Old Dominion member, some of whom bring hand-outs to add to the information packets.

There is a truck and trailer for demonstrating such things as how to change a trailer tire, items of tack and equipment specifically suited to endurance riding, examples of various horse containment systems, a sample crewing area, and a vet check area. The most difficult thing is convincing the groups to rotate to the next station every 30 minutes, as they're generally so fascinated by the topics that they want to stay where they are and ask more questions. (Last year I resorted to blowing a loud whistle as a five-minute warning.)

We have a lunch break from 12:00 to 1:00, during which I also give the "ride briefing" for the optional trail component in the afternoon. Generally about 75% of the participants choose to ride, either their own horse or one borrowed for the clinic. We have several older, semi-retired endurance horses available, and they are always claimed quickly (riders have to be willing to come try the horse, adjust tack, etc., before the day of the clinic). There are two trail loops marked with surveyors' tape as for an actual ride, each about 2.5 to 3 miles, one easy and the other more challenging, including open fields, wooded trails, water crossings, a wooden bridge, rocks, and steep climbs—a sampler of Old Dominion terrain. Riders are asked to take their horse through the vet check at least once, either before, during, or after the ride.

We have several volunteers who act as trail mentors and ride along with those who request it. The past couple of years the riders have chosen to go out in fast, medium and slow groups. We do not try to follow the format of an actual ride with hold times, etc., as that proved to be too much to pack into the limited time.

Participants who choose not to ride in the afternoon may walk the trails, crew for the riders, go back to the station facilitators and ask more questions, or browse the Old Dominion Yard Sale (a mini-version with useful donated tack and other items to tempt them).

We encourage all clinic participants to come to the Fort Valley ride three weeks later, either as a volunteer or to take part in the Introductory Ride or the LD. Many of them have taken us up on the offer!

We now see a number of our clinic graduates out on the trails competing. One of last year's participants was the lucky winner of the Asgard Arabian Old Dominion raffle horse. A rider from the 2012 clinic is now a trail mentor herself, and will be attempting the Old Dominion 100 this year—that's what I call a success story!

P.S. I am happy to report that our 2012 clinic attendee, Kaitlyn Behr, completed the Old Dominion 100 with Cerrillos Bey Starr (Lucky). Not only were there among the 18 finishers out of 31 who started, but they tied for ninth place. Congratulations!

July 2018 Classified Advertising



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ESLER ARABIANS is proud to offer a training program for both horses and their owners. My goal is longevity of your horse and your enjoyment. I do this by creating controllable, light-mouthed and responsive horses who carry themselves in the proper frame. I then train you to ride your horse properly and take you through your first 50 mile endurance ride. My program has consistently produced happy, sound horses who compete successfully well into their 20s. My horse CR Abu Kumait just won the 75 mile, extremely difficult Van Duzen Doozie at 21 years of age. He was also BC and highest vet score, with 200 out of 200 points. Ten Tevis buckles, 15K AERC miles, 38 years experience. Trained horses available for sale. Arabian and Akhal-Teke stallion services avialable. Train on the Tevis trail! Esler Arabians,, 916-652-8937.

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.