To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- July 2020

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
Trails Post
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: Welcome to summer and AERC ridesy

by Monica Chapman

It's summertime. Hopefully the Covid-19 restrictions in everyone's area have lessened so the trails are open to all endurance riders. It's the beginning of June as I write this and the first AERC ride approved with the Covid-19 requirements will be this coming weekend in Oklahoma. I hope everyone has fun.

As many of you know, the AERC Board of Directors approved a number of requirements for ride managers to meet to have rides until the threat of Covid-19 shutdowns are over. Here is what the BOD passed:

Beginning June 1, 2020, the following must be met for AERC to sanction a ride:

1. The State in which the ride is held must allow 50 or more people in a gathering (show proof, website link, etc.). The ride is limited to no more than the number of people allowed by the state in attendance, including volunteers, ride management, crew, riders, family members and spectators.

2. The State must allow recreational events (show proof, website link, etc.).

3. Permission from the County Health Department/County Commissioner.

4. Proof of land permit.

5. No travel restrictions within the state or county.

6. Submit the ride's Covid plan.

Once a state has opened up their restrictions, our requirements have been fairly easy to meet. The AERC BOD also has adopted an AERC Covid-19 plan: There are many articles in this issue addressing the plan. AERC has implemented some cost-saving plans due to the loss of income from cancelled rides. Some of these measures: cancelling the 2020 AERC National Championship, conducting the midyear BOD meeting via videoconference instead of a face-to-face meeting, and relocating AERC's national office. Kathleen, Troy and Kyra have moved to a smaller office but it's still in downtown Auburn. Right now they are putting the finishing touches on the new space at 101 Orange Street in Auburn.

The next big issue for the AERC BOD is rewriting the AERC bylaws. The bylaws were last rewritten approximately 20 years ago. There are many sections in the bylaws that are outdated or do not apply any more.

To change the bylaws the membership has to vote to approve them. The goal is to send the bylaws revision out with the Director-at-Large ballots this fall. If we are able to do that, it will save AERC money. Any amount of money we can save this year is a really big deal. Please watch Endurance News over the next few months for information about the bylaws change.

Some items that are being considered include voting electronically (as long as we meet California Corporations Code requirements), opening up the definition of endurance, and changing the numbers of days of notice for calling special meetings of the BOD.

The common trend in bylaws these days is to keep the bylaws less specific and put the details in the rules. To send out paper ballots to the membership to change a bylaw can cost thousands of dollars. By moving some of the details to the rules it will be easier to keep up with the times and not be so outdated.

Everyone please have a great summer!

Vice President's Letter: When the tough call is the right call

by Nick Kohut, DVM

Once again, we find our country in an economic upheaval. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic over 41 million people have lost their jobs and we can only speculate on the number who have seen their income slashed as business has plummeted. Discretionary spending is bound to fall. Unfortunately, for many people, horses are a discretionary expense.

A 2017 abstract estimated that the U.S. has approximately 200,000 unwanted horses annually. The American Horse Council's Welfare Committee is concerned that, with the current economic situation, that number could rise dramatically. Many state programs designed to help fund equine support programs will likely see their budgets slashed as those states struggle to find income with the losses from tax revenues.

For these reasons, and potentially many others, horse owners may be finding that they can no longer provide care for their horses. In most cases these owners have four options: sale, donation/gift, surrender to a rescue, or euthanasia. Not all of these options will be available to everyone. Some rescue operations have strict criteria for qualification that not every horse can meet.

In areas of the country where most people have to board their horses, finding someone willing to take another horse as a gift can be difficult. Lastly, due to health reasons, some horses will be unfit for sale.

When a horse is suffering and that suffering cannot be relieved (whether due to medical reasons or financial inability), it is truly in the horse's best interest to be humanely euthanized. However, sometimes euthanasia is the option of last resort.

During the last economic recession, there were a number of reports of horses being abandoned in wilderness areas. How many of these horses were eventually lost to starvation? Sale barns had animals dumped off in the middle of the night that showed signs of severe neglect. Would it not have been better to prevent these animals from going through this suffering in the first place?

This is never an easy decision. Sometimes it is just the pain felt from having to say goodbye to a long-time companion. Other times, it involves embarrassment from being in a position of financial inability. Unfortunately, sometimes the fear of condemnation from others is a concern. Social media has increased this last issue.

We do not always know what circumstances arose that brought an owner to the point of having to give up their equine. We also never know when similar circumstances may occur in our own lives. Judge not, lest ye also be judged.

Just a reminder that the deadline for submitting nominations for the Hall of Fame and other awards is fast approaching. Please submit them to the AERC office before August 7, 2020.

You may send an email or letter or use the online form: It is encouraged to have as many members as possible write in for the same nominee.

Education Update: Guidelines for attending summer rides

by Andrew Gerhard

Ride management and their volunteers do a tremendous amount of work that you may never see, and it's important we follow the plan they put in place for an enjoyable experience. What we as riders, volunteers and attendees do before, during and after a ride also determines the outcome of the overall experience. It is up to us to follow the direction of ride management, so pay close attention to the following guidelines for attending a ride. These are mainly geared toward riders but include things to be aware of for anyone at a ride. First, let's start by washing our hands. This will only take 20 seconds using soap to scrub away the germs and then thoroughly rinse with water.

Whether you are a volunteer, rider, crew or attending in any other capacity, the guidelines that follow apply to all of us. Our behavior is meaningful in that, if we perform our due diligence to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, we create a safer and more welcoming environment for the continued pleasure of having endurance rides.

Our actions and inactions will have a direct impact on the welfare of others around us so it is important that, at a minimum, we take certain precautions, like washing our hands. You are encouraged to add to the guidance for yourself where you feel it is needed. If you see someone at camp who could use help meeting the guidelines, you may offer supplies or assistance but we don't want to become an enforcement unit. Please make any concerns known to ride management so they can be properly addressed.

A committee of various members was organized to provide guidelines for returning to endurance rides as the shelter-in-place orders began to be lifted and gatherings were permissible again. An ad hoc committee put together the Guidance for Conducting AERC Sanctioned Events During Covid-19 that the AERC Board of Directors adopted. You can find the full guidelines at Covid-19_Guidelines.pdf.

Rider/participant responsibilities

Specific to responsibilities of riders and participants are the following:

First, ensure that you and anyone going with you are healthy. Follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control including taking your temperature. Next, get to know the state, county and local governments' policies from your starting point to where the ride takes place. Be aware of restrictions, affected areas and any recommendations due to Covid-19. Keep in mind conditions can change rapidly due to an outbreak so you may need to adjust your route.

Pre-register for all rides. Do not show up expecting to enter at the last minute as this would create contact with volunteers that could otherwise be avoided. Register as early as possible, knowing that rides are limited and will fill up fast. If the ride fills up, ask to be put on a waiting list. Conversely, if you are entered and know you cannot attend, it helps everyone to give as much notice as possible.

Before you get to the ride

Stay apprised of communication from ride management that could be sent through email, texts, social media, phone or other platforms. Ride management may be able to send ride packets through the mail to facilitate the pre-ride process. Attend pre-ride meetings online, by email or other non-physical means when they available. If you miss a meeting, contact someone who did attend to get the information or check with the RM.

Pack things you may never never have thought of before. Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks or face coverings, hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray or wipes and disposable gloves are great tools to have on hand and may be required. Of course, pack plenty of soap and water to wash with frequently as it is the number one way to prevent the spread of disease.

While many of us enjoyed getting together for a potluck or taking advantage of meals provided by the ride, we should now be packing enough food and drinks to be self-sufficient.

If crew bags will be going out to remote stops, try to have one for each stop with PPE in it and a generously-filled lunch cooler. The less we must interact with volunteers during this sensitive time, the better for limiting the possible transmission of disease.

At the ride

Read, really read, and get to know ride management's guidelines so that you can follow them. The new normal isn't so normal yet, and we do not want to jeopardize the health and safety of others by being complacent. When you arrive, look for additional signage regarding our responsibilities. Look for good places where you can wash your hands.

Social distancing doesn't mean you have to ride Secretariat across the finish line first. However, we do want to limit close interaction with others during these critical moments and keep at least six feet between us.

So, what does that really look like? From the time we check in to when we finish the ride, we're doing things a little differently. Before the ride, find out how parking areas will be determined and what the process for checking in will be. Pay attention to instructions on the start of the ride, such as warming up your horse around designated areas or giving more space to other riders when possible.

Vetting. When we have to present our mount to the control judge we want to have only one person involved, acting as the handler who must wear a mask and should wash their hands first. Please keep any non-essential people away from the vetting area.

Unless directed differently by the vet, you should position yourself on the opposite side of the horse during the check. However, it is typically safest to be on the same side as the control judge so you can pull the horse towards you to protect others from physical harm. Where you stand should be established before presenting. If you didn't see guidelines about how to position yourself, try to observe what others are doing to keep their distance and ultimately don't be afraid to ask.

If you feel it is necessary to remove your mask during the trot-out you should discuss that before doing so.

Rider cards. There are many ways to abuse a rider card. If you are a perpetrator of putting the card in your mouth while you get your affairs in order, we need to talk about hygiene. How we have survived this long while passing this nasty little piece of paper back and forth so much is a mystery not to be solved too soon.

If you get to keep your card, please find a way to keep it in optimal condition, including use of a sealed bag. Refrain from salivating on it or storing it in with your bits and pieces.

Management may decide to hold the cards for the duration of the event, depending on logistics. This is when I like to pull my cell phone out and take a picture to keep track of what was recorded.

In- and out-timers. Guidance on approaching in/out timers should be in the pre-ride materials. If it is unclear how to approach someone, slow down and ask for instructions. Keep as much distance as is practical between you and others whenever possible. Keeping six feet away is truly a minimum.

If your horse is pulled. Getting pulled from a ride is unfortunate. We hope all is well in the long-term. Be prepared to do things differently in case you do get pulled. Think about how a volunteer may feel with multiple strangers jumping in and out of their vehicles while there is a pandemic underway. What can we do to protect that volunteer and what measures does management have in place? Let's start by washing our hands.

Finishing. Congratulations, you did it! You're done! Well, you are almost done. By now you should realize that I'm going to remind you: this is a good time to wash your hands! Continue to follow the vetting practices we discussed earlier, including for those who are showing for best condition.

Look to the ride manager's instructions for how post-ride activities will be different. Do you remember when we used to have a fancy dinner, awards announcements and a big ol' shindig after the ride? Maybe that's an exaggeration, but these types of activities as they were will have to wait until the air is clear again.

Follow management guidelines until you leave the ride venue. Take great post-ride care of your horse or mule and be aware of what accommodations will remain available to you such as camping, restrooms or even if a treatment vet will be around after the ride. If we all make a concerted effort to follow these guidelines and the ride manager's instructions, we stand a better chance of keeping endurance going, and getting back home having had a great experience.

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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.