To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
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Endurance News -- June 2019

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
National Championship News
Junior/Young Rider News
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: AERC's strategic plan sets goals

by Monica Chapman

As an AERC member you should know how the AERC Board of Directors makes decisions about moving the organization forward. In 2015, under AERC President Michael Campbell, a strategic plan was developed. A strategic plan guides an organization to reaching its goals of providing a sustainable organization for years to come.

The AERC BOD has been working hard to finalize the implementation plans and to come up with metrics to use in gauging how AERC is doing as an organization with meeting the goals within the strategic plan.

The five arms of the AERC Strategic Plan:

-- membership

-- financial stability

-- trails preservation

-- education

-- equine welfare

-- governance.

The arms that have a corresponding committee have sought help and input from those committees. The AERC BOD members have also been assigned to one of the arms of the strategic plan to help AERC successfully reach our goals.

AERC members are going to be instrumental in helping AERC achieve the goals of plan. Because AERC is a volunteer organization, it is only going to be as successful as the members of the organization allow it be.

Below are some highlights of the AERC Strategic Plan. Please go to to see the AERC Strategic Plan in its entirety. As with any strategic plan, this is a work in progress and will be reevaluated and tweaked as needed.

AERC Strategic Plan

According to AERC's Bylaws, the purpose of the AERC is to promote and encourage:

(a) The sport of Endurance Riding.

(b) The care of endurance horses and prevention of cruelty to animals.

(c) Equine owner and rider education through convention seminars, published articles, and other means as approved by the Board.

AERC encourages the riding of historic trails and shall encourage the establishment, preservation and maintenance of all trails on both public and private lands so they may be accessible to equine riding.

In support of the organization, the following strategies are supportive of the Bylaws, and specifically the purpose of the organization. These strategies were derived from evaluation of where the organization is today and what its needs are. Strategic concerns:

1) Membership

2) Financial Stability

3) Trails Preservation

4) Education and Equine Welfare

5) Governance

Strategic Concern 1: Membership. A sizable membership allows the organization to be financially stable enough to do more for its members and more for our equine partners regarding welfare, education and research, and trails preservation.

Strategic Concern 2: Financial Stability. Having a five-year financial plan directs the operations of the organization by prioritizing where we spend our money and creates long-term stability in the event of economic downturns.

Strategic Concern 3: Trails Preservation. Without trails, our organization will cease to exist. Many federal, state and private lands are being closed to trail riders or being developed. Continual lobbying for equine access on federal and state lands and development of access to private lands is critical to AERC's survival.

Strategic Concern 4: Education and Equine Welfare. AERC must be seen as the pioneer in equine welfare and continuing education of its members while exemplifying the motto of "To Finish Is To Win" and the primary criterion of "Fit To Continue."

Strategic Concern 5: Governance. Board members must provide strategic leadership with a focus on financial sustainability.

Vice President's Letter: Vaccines are crucial to equine health

by Nick Kohut, DVM

As I sit here and write this column, Spring is in full gear. We have the good with the flowers blooming and the leaves on the trees, and the ride season has commenced through out the regions. But we also have the bad with the usual increases in fuel prices, the high pollen counts and the surge in reported equine diseases.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) is a nonprofit organization that communicates with the horse world in much the same way that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does for the human population. The EDCC works to provide up-to-date, completely verified, and easily accessible information on infectious disease outbreaks, quarantines, and regulations that are vital to helping horse owners keep their animals safe and healthy.

Check out the EDCC at Anyone can sign up to receive free email updates.

From the beginning of March through the end of April, the EDCC has reported on 22 cases of the Equine Herpes Virus (both respiratory and neurological), 10 cases of Strangles, five cases of Equine Infectious Anemia, two cases of Equine Influenza, and one case each of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Rabies.

Over the same time period the CDC continues to update their report on the national measles outbreak which has now been reported in 29 states. Some of you may have already figured out where I'm headed with this discussion. As with measles in humans, most of the diseases listed above can be aided in prevention by having your horses properly vaccinated. To be perfectly honest, not all of the vaccines are going to provide 100% protection. Several of the cases involving the Equine Herpes Virus have occurred in vaccinated horses.

However, just like with the measles outbreak, the biggest danger of infection occurs within the population of unvaccinated horses. One can only imagine what would happen if a horse with influenza arrived at one of our larger rides and if a number of those entered had failed to vaccinate their horses against the disease. The resulting outbreak could devastate a region with rides needing to cancel to prevent the spread of the disease and for possible lack of entries.

I urge every one of you to not only make sure your equines are kept up to date on their vaccinations, but also to refrain from bringing them to any equine event if they are showing signs of illness. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

One other bad issue that seems to crop up more frequently in the Spring is the number of overtly thin horses that show up at rides. I think this occurs from the lack of adequate pasture and the increased work load from riders finally being able to ride their horses after rough winter conditions.

As the chair of the AERC Welfare of the Horse Committee, I get word of these horses throughout the regions.

If members within our own organization think these horses are too thin, what do you think members of the general public would feel seeing these horses being ridden down the trail? Social media would run rampant condemning AERC.

While Rule 3.4 states that "Equines shall have a body condition score of no less than 3.0 and no greater than 8.0 to start an endurance ride," I urge caution on bringing equines that are borderline to those numbers, just because of the public perception. There are several articles available on the AERC website under the Education/Care and Feeding of the Endurance Horse as well as numerous YouTube videos that can help you score your horse's body condition and determine where it needs to move to have a well-conditioned physique.

Lastly, I'd like to remind everyone that nominations for the AERC annual recognition awards will be due in the AERC office no later than July 8 to accommodate the earlier AERC mid-year board meeting. Send to the office by mail or email, or use the online form:

National Championship News: Safe travel for you and your horses

by Robert and Melissa Ribley

The 2019 AERC National Championship Ride will be held this fall on the West Coast of the country in the famous Mojave Desert, a great place to see and appreciate the vastness of wide open country. For competitors in the Central and Eastern part of the U.S., this could mean a lengthy trip with your horse. However, this should not deter you from attending the premier AERC event of the year.

With careful planning of your trip, you and your horse can arrive at the ride site rested, hydrated and ready to compete come ride day. Arriving with your horse in good shape is an important step towards a successful ride.

Minimize dust. A well-ventilated trailer with minimal dust will allow your horse to travel more comfortably with less risk of airway disease. Airway disease is not uncommon in horses that have trailered some distance because during travel, their heads are generally not down, allowing normal draining of the airways. Before loading up, open available windows and vents and remove debris/dirt that will be blowing inside the trailer.

Keep in mind that providing hay and shavings in the trailer during travel will add to dust and flying debris in the trailer which can contribute to airway irritation. It may be worth considering providing hay only during the rest stops and during overnight layovers.

Stop frequently. During travel, while the driver is sitting comfortably in the truck, the standing horse is constantly adjusting weight and rebalancing to compensate for the swaying, turning, and slowing/accelerating of the trailer. This takes physical exertion on the part of the horse. This is why it is important to stop approximately every three hours for about half an hour (i.e., during truck refueling) to let the horse stand still and rest in a trailer that is not moving. This is also a good time to offer water and a hay bag inside the trailer.

It is not necessary to unload and walk the horse during his rest break. The horse does not need to walk, he just needs to be still and rest after the muscular exertion of adjusting to the trailer movements. Some research has shown that every hour of a trailer ride for a horse is the physical equivalent of walking for an hour. So an eight-hour trailer ride for your horse is similar to an eight-hour walk. Unloading and loading the horse in unfamiliar surroundings, near high traffic areas, will only serve to add to the risk of injury to both you and the horse.

Position thoughtfully. If traveling with multiple horses in the trailer, consider carefully the order in which you load the horses. Horses prone to kicking, such as your favorite mare, should be loaded last. If there are no kickers in the bunch, then alternating positions in the trailer each day is a good strategy because the horse in the most rear position in a longer trailer generally has a rougher ride than the horse up front.

Plan your layovers. For those trailering more than 500 miles, this will likely be a multi-day trip. It is important to have your trip planned out ahead of time with places arranged to layover with your horse. There are many horse hotels available with stalls, paddocks or turnout areas where your horse can rest, eat and rehydrate overnight. is a great place to start your travel planning. Virtually all horse motel owners will want to see current health papers, including a negative Coggins test, for your horse before allowing you onto their property. Make sure you have them before hitting the open road.

Arrive early. It is optimum to plan your trip so that you arrive at the ride site in time to allow for at least one full day of rest for your horse. A good rule of thumb is to allow one day of rest prior to the ride for each day that the horse has traveled. During these days of rest, the horse will refuel and rehydrate so that he is ready for his competition.

The AERC National Championship Ride, being a national event, will draw riders and horses from all over the country. Planning your trip and using proper trailering techniques will provide you and your horse, even if traveling across the country, the best opportunity for a successful ride.

A long trailer ride should not deter you from taking part in an exciting national event. With proper planning, horses adjust and can do very well after a long trailer ride. Traveling to other regions is a great way to see the country, and traveling to the AERC National Championship Ride in Ridgecrest, California, on October 31 (50 miles) and November 2 (100 miles) will be well worth the trip!

For more information on the 2019 AERC National Championship Ride, including entry forms and location guide, go to or see our Facebook page at

Trails Post: June is Great Outdoors Month

by Alex Uspenski

Great Outdoors Month – so what does this mean? A proclamation initiated in 1998 as Great Outdoors Week by then-President Clinton was an incentive to promote our parks and get people outside. In 2004 then-President Bush expanded it to Great Outdoors Month due to the growth in popularity. It has remained an endorsement ever since by subsequent administrations. National parks have a free day with no entry fee. Clean-up events are scheduled. Events also include boating, hiking, fishing and camping. It's actually much larger than I had realized.

Although one may not be motivated by most presidential proclamations, the fact that effort is spent by our government does make us realize that the outdoor industry, which requires a foundation of parks and open land, is crucial. The government does realize the quoted statistic of a $374 billion dollar industry. And our organization is very much a part of that as well. Land stewardship, volunteering and interaction with other users and land managers will help keep our trails, and thus our ability to have rides, alive.

One may see an increase in trail traffic as summer arrives. This incentive, as well as the end of the school year and rough weather, naturally does this. Keeping our presence felt in parks not only helps promote our sport, but people who otherwise would not have contact with endurance riders or horses in general have the opportunity to have a positive experience with us. The experience with other users varies with our group. The more remote riders may not notice this as much, but people from east of the Mississippi certainly do. Ohio parks are roughly 30% city, 30% county, 30% state and 7% national forest by area. We have four times the population and one-third the land of New Mexico. There may be some busy trailheads out there, but chances are we win the sardine can award.

As endurance riders, many of us spend most of our time outside. We are a very lucky, motivated group and this is what keeps us sane, or not. Most countries that have the land don't have the economy or infrastructure to support our sport. Most countries that have the economy don't have the land. We have both. Let's not lose it. What is a proclamation to promote the outdoors to people is as normal to us as breathing. We don't need incentive for that. Many of us probably have the opposite problem. I'm OK with having that problem.

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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.