To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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Endurance News -- June 2015

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

Money and Volunteers

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

My wife and I recently entertained a young couple with children (two horse-crazy daughters) who asked about endurance riding. As we overwhelmed them with information and enthusiasm about AERC, I began to think of what a remarkable organization AERC is from a purely business perspective. A business composed primarily of volunteers? Where's the profit motive? Show me the money.

Anyone reading these words is probably pretty deeply and sincerely involved with AERC and the sport of endurance riding. We all tend to think of AERC as the umbrella organization that keeps track of our miles and points and sanctions the endurance rides we attend. We also tend to think of AERC as a large nationwide organization, almost like a big national corporation, that takes care of our endurance business for us. But the details of that business? Nah, we just want to ride.

AERC is a corporation, incorporated in the State of California as a nonprofit corporation known to the IRS as a 501(c)(3) so that we (AERC) don't pay taxes. AERC is also a national organization with members in almost all of the states as well as other countries. AERC membership will probably top 5,000 this year. But AERC's annual budget is less than $700,000. Most of that money is spent on administrative costs. We all know that none of us is getting rich off our AERC memberships or the completion awards for our rides. In fact, our money helps out companies that sell trucks, fuel, trailers, tack and clothing.

We are a relatively small organization. Money doesn't keep AERC going or our members riding. Only our unique determination to keep riding, and support one another, in riding long distances keeps AERC in business. Money is not enough.

That determination is especially reflected in the volunteers that make AERC function. The average member is aware of the volunteers at rides and is grateful for them. They keep time, check pulses, clerk for the vets, count riders at checkpoints, get up early and stay up late for the riders and horses. They crew for us, prepare meals, mark trails and fill water tanks. They donate prizes and cheer when one of us completes our ride.

Most riders volunteer when they can't ride for one reason or another. When a rider has a problem, they offer their time, effort and trucks to haul a horse or pull a rig out of the mud. These are the volunteers that most riders see and appreciate at rides. The quickest way to incur the wrath of a ride manager is to be rude to one of his or her volunteers.

AERC has a number of volunteers that many riders never see or hear much about. They serve on one (or more) of the 21 standing committees that resolve problems and keep things running smoothly for all members. They develop and maintain our national trails program, monitor and revise rules, promote membership, encourage education about endurance riding, resolve protests and grievances, support junior riders' participation, assist anyone who wants to be a ride manager, monitor finances to keep AERC solvent, support riders with international aspirations and review veterinary procedures.

These are just some of the committees, but all of the committees spend a significant amount of time to keep AERC running smoothly and efficiently. Our volunteers also include the 26 members who serve on the AERC Board of Directors without compensation and attend monthly teleconferences and twice a year face-to-face meetings.

I'm just guessing here, but I would bet a month's wages that altogether our volunteers total over half our membership in any given year. I would also bet that you can't find many national corporations wherein half the employees volunteer to make them successful.

From where does that unique determination come? I'm sure each of you have your own idiosyncratic reasons for participating in endurance and AERC. For many it's the pride of accomplishment. For others, the social support and interaction with like-minded individuals drive you to volunteer for AERC whether you have a horse that day or not. For some, it may come from the pure enjoyment of being outdoors with horses and horse people and away from the drama and trivia of workaday life.

Whatever the source of your unique determination, you may rightly take pride in it. It makes you capable of riding 25, 50 or 100 miles -- and volunteering to help others do the same. Volunteers are the soul of AERC. Money is not enough. Without volunteers, we would still ride, but perhaps not quite as sweetly.

Call for Nominations

by Lisa Schneider, AERC Vice President

Every year AERC members have the opportunity to nominate outstanding individuals and equines for six special awards. The recipients are chosen by a committee that consists of all the AERC non-sanctioning directors and the vice president. The awards are presented at the annual national awards banquet at the AERC convention.

Nominations are requested for these awards:

-- Pard'ners Award

-- Hall of Fame Member

-- Hall of Fame Equine

-- Volunteer Service Award

-- Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award

-- Anne Ayala Junior Scholarship Award (applications due 1/4/16 -- see below)

-- Pard'ners Award. This award goes to the horse and rider who are a true team in every sense of the word. Created in honor of Mae Schlegel and her horse, Pard, it epitomizes the horse and rider who have a bond forged by many miles and hours together on the trail. True horsemanship and sportsmanship are some of the important qualities the team shares and they usually end up having a great many adventures together. Ron Barrett and Rafuro HCC of the Southwest Region became the newest Pard'ners Award winners earlier this year.

Hall of Fame Member and Hall of Fame Equine. These two awards honor a lifetime achievement for superior contributions to the sport or exceptional performance. Like the other awards explained here, these awards are kept secret until the annual convention awards banquet. This honor started back in 1975 with Wendell Robie as the first member recipient and Donna Fitzgerald's Witezarif as the first equine recipient. The 2014 winners are Pat Oliva and MRR Pyro ("Murphy"), owned by Karen Fredrickson. (Read more about Pat and Murphy beginning on page 21.)

The AERC Volunteer Service Award was established to honor an AERC member who has devoted an extraordinary amount of volunteer effort, time and service on behalf of the AERC for many years. As Michael discusses in his president's column this month, AERC couldn't exist without volunteers. You are invited to nominate a worthy candidate.

Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award. This honors the AERC member who has devoted an exceptional amount of time and energy to creating, maintaining, and campaigning to preserve our trails. Many endurance rides would not be possible if these people weren't out there advocating for our trails, like the 2014 winner, Gail Williams. This award is named in honor of the late Ann Parr, who worked diligently with the BLM, the Forest Service and other community agencies to ensure equestrian trails were kept open despite encroaching development.

Anne Ayala Junior Scholarship. Each year a $1,000 scholarship is awarded to an AERC member between his/her senior year in high school and age 21. The recipient must have a minimum of 500 AERC miles and an unweighted GPA of at least 3.0. Scholarship applications are due by January 4, 2016; forms are available from the AERC office or online.

Please send in your nominations for the members and equines that you think exemplify these awards. There are usually many worthwhile nominees, so please include details regarding their accomplishments.

The committee will meet at the AERC Board of Directors midyear meeting in August to review all nominations and choose recipients for these awards. All who are nominated will continue to stay in the system for consideration for three years.

Please send me your nominations via e-mail to, as the AERC vice president serves as the chair of the Hall of Fame Committee. The nominations are due by July 31. Nomination information can be found on the AERC website or by request from the AERC office at 866-271-2372 or

Crew U (and Your Horse)

by Julie Lobdell Herrera

One of the unsung heroes of endurance is the crew member. He, or she, may be someone who is looking to gain knowledge of the sport but more often than not it is an unsuspecting non-horsey husband, wife, child or friend who has somehow been convinced that a weekend of camping with the horse will be fun. If you find yourself in this position you might as well make the most of it.

Here are a few pointers to help make your experience a pleasant one and earn you the undying gratitude of your rider.

Before the Ride

Go over the horse's tack with your rider. Learn how to properly put on and take off the breast collar, crupper, bridle, leg protection, and hoof boots.

Have your rider go through the crew bag with you. Find out what food they want their horse to have at the vet checks. Ask if they want the horse to have electrolytes and, if yes, then confirm how much and when.

Know what your rider wants to eat and drink at the vet check. And actually have it available for them. Make sure you bring food and drink for yourself as well.

Go to the ride meeting. Get driving directions to the vet checks if they are away from camp. Find out if there are any restrictions as to where you can park or set up your crew area.

Day of Ride, at the Vet Check

Pick a location for your crewing spot. On a warm day hopefully find some shade. Don't be so far away from the vetting area that time is wasted walking back and forth, but don't be so close that your horse is in the middle of the hustle and bustle and won't be able to relax.

Fill two buckets of water -- one for sponging and one for the horse to drink from. Have a chair available for your rider to relax in. Have a rump rug or blanket ready to put on the horse's hindquarters.

Lay out the equine smorgasbord for your mighty steed. Be aware that horses are notorious for wanting their neighbors' food. Your rider may have a special mix they want their horse to have so don't put that food out where another horse might dive into it easily. Likewise, don't let the horse you are in charge of eat somebody else's food without asking first.

There will probably be some waiting time before your rider arrives. Offer to help ride management set up the vet check. Find out where the in/out timer will be, what the pulse criteria is, and how long the hold time is. Ask when the vet wants to see the horse for examination. Some vets look at them immediately after pulse down, others like to see them just before they head out on the next loop.

Take some time to socialize and talk to others who are crewing but remember you have a job to do -- don't get so distracted that you aren't aware when your rider appears.

Many rides are won, or lost, at the vet check. Think of yourself as part of a NASCAR pit crew. The first order of business is to get the horse's pulse down. Have your rider instruct you on the most efficient use of water to cool the horse when sponging.

Once the horse reaches pulse criteria the hold time begins. Take your horse and rider to the oasis you have prepared for them. Let your rider relax while you look after the horse. While eating his hay and mash check him over for any scrapes, bumps or tack rubs that may have occurred during the ride. Check that his shoes/boots are still secure.

If it is a long hold, 45 or 60 minutes, walk the horse around a little about halfway through the break. This will help prevent his muscles from stiffening. Keep track of how much hold time is left and give your rider a five-minute warning before it is time to head back out on trail.

Refill your rider's water bottles. Help re-tack the horse, making sure that buckles and snaps that had been undone or loosened are back in place. Make sure your rider has their vet card and map with them and send them on their way.

Into the Night

If your rider is participating in a 75- or 100-mile ride it is likely they will still be out there after dark. Be prepared with jackets and warmer horse blankets, head lamps, and a warm beverage or soup. Also, be forewarned that the longer the ride the more likely it is that your rider may get a little loopy toward the end of the ride. When this occurs it is even more important for you to be on top of things.

After the Ride

There is nothing better for a rider to see at the finish line than the friendly, welcoming smile of their crew! If your team has finished in a top 10 placing then they will probably want to present the horse for best condition judging. They will need your help in stripping the horse of all tack and weighing in at the finish line. You will then have one hour to groom the horse to the point of looking like he hasn't just completed an endurance ride and is instead ready to go into the show ring.

Whether or not your team shows for BC, after-ride care is very important. Back at the trailer put a light blanket on the horse so he doesn't get chilled. Provide fresh water, hay and a mash. Check again for any surface wounds or leg swelling. Then present the horse for its final vet check.

Finally, you can sit back and enjoy visiting with all your new friends. Give yourself a big pat on the back and feel satisfied that you were a very important part of a successful team effort! See you at the next ride!

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.