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Endurance News -- May 2017

President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: My catchphrase and learning to know enough

by Paul Latiolais, AERC President

Catchphrases: do you know anyone who actually has one? Neither did I. It would be weird, right? Catchphrases are for TV shows and movies: "I'll be back." "Make it so." "Don't have a cow, man." People in real life don't have catchphrases, or so I thought.

I had no idea that I had created a catchphrase until Midwest Region Director Connie Caudill repeated it back to me at a Sanctioning Committee meeting last year. "We all know what you are going to say, Paul", she said, then proceeded to tell me exactly what I was about to say.

It all started at my very first board meeting as a director at the AERC convention in Atlanta three years ago. The board was considering a serious motion that had to do with AERC's relationship with other governing bodies of endurance riding, all because of something that had happened halfway around the world.

Our newly-elected president, Michael Campbell, invoked a tool that subsequently became commonplace in board meetings that he led. He went around the room, asking each director to state their current thinking on the motion. Fortunately, Michael started at the far end of the room, giving me time to collect my thoughts and adjust them as other more experienced and more knowledgeable board members expressed their opinions.

When Michael finally got around to me, I said, "I don't really know enough, but . . ." and then I went on to state my thoughts on the subject. Apparently, that approach was so well received that I unconsciously started using the phrase in other related contexts. I really did feel that I did not know enough, but my colleagues asked for my opinion, and they genuinely wanted to hear it.

So at this year's Sunday board meeting at the AERC convention in Texas, after explaining to the board how I had inadvertently created this catchphrase, my next words to the board as its new president were, "I don't really know enough, but you elected me anyway." I got the laugh that I expected. Humor is an excellent way to get an unpleasant truth across.

The collective wisdom of the board is quite vast, compared to the limitations of my own knowledge as the board's new president. Looking around the room on that Sunday, it seemed to me that I probably had the lowest rider mileage in the room.

I have never been a top-ten rider. National awards are not for me or my horses. I am surrounded by people with a lot more experience and a lot more honors.

I am not from the "old school" of endurance riders. I was not a long-time trail rider who just showed up at an endurance ride one day to do my first 50. I was relatively new to horse ownership and horse savviness when my horse and I found endurance. I chose the sport because I wanted something to do on my horse. I did not choose my horse for the sport.

When we first got into horses (my wife's idea), we bought "new" ones, and we bought Quarter horses. Despite their young age, they were so docile as to be downright boring. I had no idea why we were doing this trail riding stuff, except to spend time together.

My wife decided at some point that she did not like all that bouncing or posting, so she bought herself a Paso Fino. I had to get one too, she said. I immediately fell in love with their sensitivity, empathy and brio (incorrectly translated as "spirit"). My Paso Fino, Pete hated the show ring, as did I, but he loves endurance, as do I. At one point I had an endurance T-shirt that read, "What am I doing here? This is my wife's hobby!" In 14 years of competition, Pete (aka Lucero Reedo de Rioto, H33093) has a little over 3,000 miles of endurance and 600+ LD miles. My total mileage is not much more than that.

That is quite low compared to my fellow directors; however, that is the highest mileage of his breed. I have our Decade Team jacket, and this year, fingers crossed, my now-22-year-old Pete will earn a 15-year Equine Longevity pin.

My younger Paso Fino, Frank, is now my main mount. Frank (aka Francisco Adan CuGR, H50387) completed his first two 50-mile rides in 2016. I hope to complete Tevis on him in 2018.

As I said at the Saturday general meeting right after I was elected, I am not the expert in the room. The board has the expertise, a lot of it. My job is to tap into that expertise in working toward making AERC a better organization for its members. I don't know how to do that, but perhaps we know how to do that.

To be honest, I have a lot of expertise to draw on; it is just not endurance experience. My experience is administrative. Leading 26 strong-willed equestrians seems easy compared to chairing a university department of 30-odd mathematicians who have been told so many times that they are smart that they have come to believe it, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

I have also been president of two other volunteer equestrian organizations before this one, of the largest chapter of Oregon Equestrian Trails (OET) and of Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides (PNER). I took the reins as president of PNER as the last recession was unfolding. We had enough cash reserves that we could provide support to the members, with the dues they had given the organization in past years, and also had enough funds to pay for promotions to encourage new members to join.

The Northwest and Southeast regions were the only two regions in AERC that did not see a significant drop in membership during the recession, and I credit the strength of PNER and SERA, the Southeast Endurance Riders Association. I take some of the credit for the Northwest Region's stability during those years.

I have learned a lot in my three short years on the board, including some (probably not all) of the key issues and what levers we might use to address these issues.

The biggest issue that I would like to tackle first is communication. It is clear to me that our members do not really understand what the board does and why. Also, the members do not have a working knowledge of current policies and procedures. That can cause conflict.

Last August I proposed a motion to address the communication issue with respect to committee interaction with members. We are now putting into effect a number of measures to help members deal with our increasing large and complex organization. I will say more about that in future articles.

I also will be increasing communication among the board members. We are currently using 20th century technology for most of our communication. As an academic, I am versed in more effective tools that promote effective communication. While I promised the board that I would not take away their beloved Yahoo group, I will do my best to make it redundant and unnecessary.

I have two guiding principles in my vision of what AERC is and should be:

1. the welfare of our horses, and

2. ensuring that our members are having fun.

But first, I have to learn about this job. It is going to take me a while to figure it out, so please do not expect immediate change. I don't know enough, but . . .

I promise to work hard to lead this board toward serving our AERC members in the best ways that we can.

Vice President's Message: Back in the (VP) saddle again

by Susan Kasemeyer

I'm back! For those who are relatively new to our sport I am Susan Kasemeyer, new Vice President for AERC. (Warning -- Commercial: AERC is the wonderful governing body for endurance riding in the U.S. which tries to give you an idea what's going to happen at a ride, no matter where you are located.)

I have served as Vice President before, many years ago, and the hardest part of the job, in my opinion, is writing a monthly column that you will find interesting.

I have been active in our sport for over 35 years and they have been the best ones of my life. My family has expanded from two children to one of thousands and thousands of friends over that.

I have been able to travel to most of the U.S. and several countries overseas, all the time sharing our sport with new friends and, most of all, the companionship of wonderful horses. I hope all of you are able to reap these benefits and more that I haven't thought of.

A few years ago, I had an unplanned dismount into a tree, breaking my neck. As I lay there, testing all my limbs and finding them usable, able to think (another commercial: because I wear a helmet), I decided it was time to hang up my saddle.

I have not given up endurance. I go to as many rides as possible, working or helping in some way and, therefore, I get all the benefits except riding. I miss seeing old and new trails very much. The beauty of our country is best appreciated from the back of a horse.

Hope to see all of you I haven't met and hope to see lots and lots of old friends at an endurance ride in the coming years and spend time enjoying our great sport.

Kiss your horse for me. Susan

Trails Post: Convention trails news

by Monica Chapman

The AERC National Convention in Texas was a great experience for all trail users. On Friday morning Randy Rasmussen, public lands advisor for Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA), gave a great presentation to the general membership. Some of the items touched upon were Federal Lands Transfers and why they are important to everyone, communicating with your legislators, and how AERC and BCHA can work together.

During the Trails and Land Management Committee's business meeting, the recent trails survey that was sent to all members was discussed. It was decided to work with the Technical Committee and come up with an online trails log for the AERC membership to log all volunteer hours. These volunteer hours will include actual trail work plus planning and administrative hours. This project is already progressing quickly and I hope to have final instructions for the volunteer log in the next Endurance News.

Another item discussed was developing a two-day trails maintenance class. This class would not replace the Trail Master course. It would cover basic items that the majority of our membership will actually do on a group trails workday. A trails sub-committee has been developed to work on this.

Saturday afternoon was a first-time Trails Advocate meeting. This meeting was targeted for all AERC Trail Masters, AERC State Trail Advocates, and anyone interested in trails. Around 30 people attended. Many different topics were covered. New and experienced AERC State Trail Advocates discussed how to get started in their role and just how far they can take the position.

It was a great question-and-answer forum between ride managers and trail advocates. Topics included five-year permits, threats of trail closure, free materials from the U.S. Forest Service, and current legislation in Washington DC. Randy Rasmussen from BCHA attended this meeting and helped with many of the topics. It was a great way to meet and get to know our members who are out there fighting to keep our trails open.

At the National Awards banquet on Saturday, the Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award was granted to Greg Jones of Kentucky. Greg has been an AERC Trail Master and the AERC State Trail Advocate for Kentucky for many years. Greg is very involved with BCHA. Greg sets a fine example of what many of us should strive for in trails advocacy.

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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.