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Endurance News -- October 2015

President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Research Notes
Trails Post
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: AERC and Transparency

by Michael Campbell, AERC President

AERC is a tough, tight, efficient operation. What follows is how AERC is organized and how we spend our money.

Most of us just want to go to rides and ride our horses. We meet friends and have a good time. But like any social gathering, there is a vast, barely visible network of support that makes it all possible. When you go to a party, someone prepared a guest list and issued invitations, planned drinks and munchies, entertainment, location, time, etc. It's the same for an endurance ride. A lot of planning and preparation goes into each ride and each ride season.

Now, don't doze off. I'll try to make this simple and informative -- just the basics you need to know to be a responsible AERC member. AERC's organization starts with our bylaws. The bylaws say that we promote endurance riding through education, horse welfare and trail support. For most members, AERC's most obvious job is to keep track of miles and points and to hand out year-end awards. That sounds simple, but it requires rules, makers of rules, documentation and records, oversight and administration.

Our bylaws require a board of directors (BoD) of 26 members, elected by the membership. The BoD elects officers and evaluates motions and matters of concern to AERC. BoD members swear to uphold the best interests of AERC, not their regional or individual interests. The BoD has a fiduciary responsibility, meaning its members are trusted with the well-being (especially the financial well-being) of AERC.

The BoD meets monthly by teleconference and twice yearly, face to face, at the AERC annual convention and at a midyear meeting. Elections for regional directors, two for each region, will be this year. You will soon be voting for your regional representative. So choose someone who's not afraid to work.

AERC's annual operating budget is right around $550,000. About 56% of our income is from membership dues. Another 21% comes from ride fees. The remaining 23% comes from miscellaneous sources such as interest income, sponsorship and donations.

More than half a million dollars is a lot of money to spend in one year! What do we spend it on?

AERC spends it on you, so you can ride your horse and have a good time. AERC spends an average of about $120 on each member every year. The biggest chunk of this money goes to maintaining records and supporting endurance activities by way of office expenses. This includes payroll, accounting, etc. (33%), the AERC building and operating costs (12%), insurance (10%), membership/marketing (7%), committees (5%), awards (5%), and credit card fees and teleconferences for the BoD and committees (2%).

The AERC conventions usually break even or are somewhat positive, and Endurance News's net cost averages out to about $5.50 per member annually.

AERC Treasurer Mollie Krumlaw-Smith and Executive Director Kathleen Henkel watch our money very carefully and pinch every penny as tight as they can. The BoD scrutinizes reports on finances several times a year and sets an annual budget. Kathleen is careful to make sure we adhere to that budget and don't overspend.

In upholding its fiduciary responsibility, the BoD often scrutinizes the budget for potential savings.

Where can we save money for AERC?

AERC has three committees with budgets: Trails and Land Management, Research and Education. It might surprise you to learn that each of these committees gets less than 1% of AERC's annual expenditures. These are major areas of responsibility in our bylaws. But we spend less than 1% of our money on them each year. As a result, the committees rely on your generosity for much of their functions. When you fill out your membership renewal, you will have a chance to make a donation to these worthy causes.

The Trails and Land Management Committee organizes Trail Master classes. If you aren't a Trail Master, go to a class at your first opportunity (there are two coming up in 2016 so far, in Ohio and Oregon). The committee also makes trails grants to worthwhile trail building/maintenance projects on trails that we ride every year.

The current committee chair is Monica Chapman. Without trails, there is no endurance riding. Monica has traveled extensively at her own expense this year to stay in touch with the national trails community and land managers. Give generously when you renew your membership.

The Research Committee authorizes and conducts research to help us evaluate and care for our horses in this rigorous sport. Past research has been published in prominent veterinary journals. We evaluate our horses' health based on this research. For example, AERC's Cardiac Recovery Index, minimum heart rate requirements, body condition score and veterinary treatment procedures are based on research. The committee is in the process of completing a major multi-year study of 100 mile horses. The current committee chair is Jerry Gillespie, DVM. Give generously when you renew your membership.

The Education Committee helps to defray clinic costs to organizers in all regions. These clinics help riders learn more about our extreme sport and teach new members how to ride safely. Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, is the committee chair. She travels throughout the country, often at her own expense, to give Endurance 101 and 201 clinics. (There are no new clinics currently in the works -- contact Susan to find out more about putting on a clinic in your area.) Give generously when you renew your membership.

Each of these committees has members that spend their own money for their projects. AERC can't save money here, but we can appreciate their sacrifice and help them when we renew our memberships.

Another area that receives BoD scrutiny is EN. Our flagship publication doesn't generate a profit, but is dearly beloved by most members and there is no fat in its budget. (As a non-profit, our publications should not be profit centers.) Someday, we may go to an all-electronic version of EN, but for now our members support the printed version.

The BoD frequently considers annual awards given out at the convention and which cost upwards of $20,000. The vests and jackets are very popular with regional winners and are a good source of advertising for AERC. Kathleen checks carefully every year and gets us the best bargain available.

At this year's midyear meeting, the BoD agreed, upon a motion from the executive director, to raise the maximum midyear meeting travel reimbursement from $500 to $800. I saw a raised eyebrow or two on social media. Was the BoD giving itself a raise? Exploiting its power?

This money simply reimburses board members for their travel expenses to attend the midyear meeting. The reimbursement requests for the 2015 meeting have ranged from $0 to $690. All requests must include receipts, but of course no payment for time off work is given. The total cost to AERC for these face-to-face meetings is less than 1% of our budget. The benefit to AERC is worth the cost.

AERC is a tough nonprofit organization. We don't have any waste in our budget. We have only had one increase in dues in the past 15 or so years and our membership still costs less than comparable organizations.

You get a lot out of AERC. Maybe the most important thing you get is the incentive and opportunity to ride your horse with like-minded people. Your burn calories and keep your horse fit. Both you and your horse will live longer, healthier lives because of your membership in AERC.

What can you give in return? Your service on a committee? Your donation to one of the funded committees? Your candidacy for a board position? It's up to you, but whatever you invest -- time or money, or both -- the return on your investment beats a savings account.

Vice President's Message: Midyear Meeting Synopsis

by Lisa Schneider, AERC Vice President

AERC's Board of Directors met in Denver on August 15 for a full day of meetings. The main topics discussed were membership, marketing, strategic planning, finances, FEI issues, and 10 motions were presented.

Our executive director, Kathleen Henkel, kicked things off with a very positive membership report. We are up almost 300 members and we have 82 more new members than we did at this time last year, so the trend is going in the right direction. Kathleen also reported on a fall membership special offer -- if new members join this fall, they get the rest of 2015 plus all of 2016 for only $88.75. (About 65 people have already taken advantage of this great deal.)

Our marketing consultant, Candace FitzGerald, presented the marketing activities she is spearheading. We hired Candace this past winter as a contractor and she is doing such a good job, we extended her contract. She reviewed with us the press releases, advertisements, interviews, articles in national publications, and social media programs she has done.

John Parke did a presentation on implementing our strategic plan. At the convention meeting in March, the board approved the strategic plan with goals for our five strategies: membership, financial stability, trails preservation, education and equine welfare, and governance. The next step is to implement the plan. To make any plan happen, you need to have an idea of your current status, your target status and who is doing what, and in what timeframe. Having a way to measure or evaluate the results is the final part.

John reviewed his implementation plan using the governance strategy as an example. The directors who are championing each strategy are responsible for meeting with the related committee chairs and developing their implementation plans. The second part of this discussion focused on the specific strategies for each of the goals. At each monthly board meeting, at least one implementation plan will be reviewed. This ensures we are focused on the appropriate items at the right level to keep our organization healthy and sound (just like our horses).

Our treasurer and chief financial whiz, Mollie Krumlaw-Smith, gave us an update on our finances and presented the proposed budget for 2016. We are tracking to budget for this year, thanks to positive membership growth. This is due, in most part, to the educational clinics that have been held across the country and a big thank-you goes to Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, for personally traveling to almost every region to conduct Endurance 101/201/Beyond the Basics clinics. Thanks also go to all the clinic organizers who saw a need in their area for education and made it happen. According to Mollie, membership is up 6%, rider fees are up 16% (more people are riding), the office is managing the budget favorable to plan, and in general all budget lines are tracking favorable.

Over the past two years, we have discussed equine welfare in the UAE and protested their misbehavior to FEI directly and through the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), which is our national authority. We expressed our utmost concern about horse welfare and the cheating scandals that pervaded competitions in the UAE. AERC took a stand against the abuses and strongly urged the FEI organization to sanction and/or suspend competitions there.

On March 17, 2015, the FEI suspended the UAE riders and equines, disallowed UAE officials from officiating in international competitions, and several other actions. The suspension was recently lifted after the UAE provided a rigorous and specific plan for rehabilitation and pledged to continue efforts to improve under the watchful eyes of the endurance world.

We have a new addition to the board. One of the Mountain Region directors, Peter Hommertzheim, has resigned for family reasons, so Tennessee Lane has been approved as his successor. Welcome to Tennessee and we look forward to working with you.

There were 10 motions that the board considered. Seven of the motions passed:

-- Extension of the marketing director's contract for another six months

-- Approval of a young riders' stipend of $50 from AERC International for their first FEI ride

-- Approval of an AERC International dues increase from $10 to $15 per year, with a $40 family option

-- Approval for reimbursement for team equipment for the NAJYRC competition

-- Approval of an AERC resolution to oppose the transfer or sale of federal public lands managed by the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture

-- Approval of increase in reimbursed expenses for directors' travel to the midyear meeting

-- Approval of a youth aged 21 years or younger as a representative to the board of directors with speaking privileges but no voting privileges. Two motions were deferred back to the proposing committees for further action:

-- Increasing drug testing fees (outside of California) from $3 to $5 per ride entry

-- Designating reserve drug testing fees for litigation.

One motion did not pass and that was the Research Committee's request to assess a nominal fee per ride entry to generate income to fund AERC research. The board is very supportive of research but felt the mechanism for fund-raising via ride managers was unrealistic.

There is no doubt that research to help veterinarians find better methods for monitoring exhaustion and other stresses during endurance rides would be beneficial to the entire sport. As the Research Committee pointed out, there has been a significant decline in research funds available for equine research. AERC is not financially able to support the research efforts, but studies in the areas of preventive medicine, health care, rehabilitation, nutrition, diagnostic techniques, etc., would produce very valuable data for AERC members (see article, page 11).

Membership renewal is coming up soon and part of the renewal form includes an area for donations to research as well as education, trails, international, and the junior scholarship fund, so please consider contributing.

The Hall of Fame Committee also met to select from a very long list of worthy nominees. Recipients of the Hall of Fame Person, Hall of Fame Equine, Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award, Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Pard'ners Award will be announced at the national awards banquet at the AERC convention in Reno on February 20, 2016.

Overall, the midyear board meeting was very productive and it highlighted how important it is for all of us to discuss these issues in person. Happy trails!

Happy trails!

Research Notes: Research, $ and You

by Jerry Gillespie, DVM

Most of us would agree that what makes the sport of endurance special is our remarkable horses. It is not surprising, then, that riders, veterinarians and ride managers have been very supportive of research and education to advance our skill at caring for our horses. Since AERC's inception, the Veterinary, Research and Educational Committees have worked well together to advance their shared goal: learning and applying the very best practices to insure the well-being of our horses.

When the control judges examine our horses at rides they use several familiar tests, and each one of them has its basis in scientific research. The underlying scientific principles for these tests came from early research beginning centuries ago and with new research extending our understanding and expanding the usefulness of these tests to the present day.

Control judges at our rides have been trained in these scientific basics, but in addition they enrich their scientific knowledge with their own experiences in working with horses at rides and in their practice. For example, their experience is reinforced and enriched with new technologies that they use or study during continuing education courses, reading professional journals, attending meetings or consulting with each other on cases.

These new technologies are based on the most recent research -- for example, improved radiology, ultrasound, treadmill force-plates and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for evaluating lameness and other ailments in our horses.

While the veterinarians may not be using these technologies as they evaluate our horses for soundness at rides, it is likely they are thinking about how these technologies or others might clarify the lameness they see during the trot-out.

Research at Rides

In my experience, there is a lot of "continuing education" that goes on at rides among veterinarians and between veterinarians and riders. These educational conversations at rides often lead to new questions to be researched. For example, our recent studies on cardiac recovery index (CRI) (see the September 2015 EN) were conceived from conversations between ride veterinarians, riders and ride managers. Research at rides, like all good research, should be well done to assure confidence in the results, and take place without interfering with the fair conduct of the ride or the enjoyment of the riders.

Survey Research

A very good example of this type of research is the AERC-supported survey research being conducted by Olin Balch, DVM, PhD, et al, in which they have collected important data on horses' ailments, treatments and the occasional horse death during AERC-sanctioned rides. These are important studies that help set the stage for other studies designed to specifically address how we care for horses at rides. As mentioned above, there are studies that can best be done at rides. The cost of these studies often come out of the pockets of the veterinarians and ride managers who conduct the studies.

Complex, Specialized Studies

There are other vexing questions that will require full-time researchers doing studies in very controlled environments, using high-tech equipment. A good example is finding more accurate assessments of the level of hydration of horses in rides or following transport, and the impact of dehydration on electrolyte balance, i.e., when is it appropriate to give electrolyte solutions intravenously or orally to our horses?

Rob Lydon, DVM (a member of AERC Veterinary and Research committees, rider and ride manager) and I, along with many others, have been wrestling with this question for years. We would like to find a way to accurately evaluate the impact of oral electrolytes on endurance horses' health and performance.

The problem with such a study is the difficulty in controlling all of the variables that can impact equine performance, in addition to the challenges of collecting accurate data on electrolyte use at a ride. For this research, we will need very well controlled studies done by a group of trained researchers, most likely at a university. These will be costly, but very important if we are to find answers to questions surrounding equine dehydration, electrolyte supplementation and the steps to recovery from dehydration at rides.

Someday, I hope that AERC will have sufficient research money to support these needed studies. The Research Committee is working on the funding gap in several ways (see the September 2014 EN).

This past year, the AERC president and board of directors, the office and the Research Committee have been working on procedures to assure every dollar of research money is spent wisely and can be accounted for. Our aim is to help every member in their quest for more knowledge and better practices to assure the well being of their horses.

In my experience, our sport is at its best when we all work together to solve problems that threaten our horses or the image of our sport. In other words, for the sake of the health of our horses, our enjoyment of having healthy horses at rides, and ultimately the satisfaction of a highly respected sport, we all must be willing to chip in to continue the advancement of research directed at new challenges to our horses and ultimately to our sport.

The Future of Trails

by Monica Chapman

AS THE NEW AERC Trails and Land Management Committee chair I was invited to the Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) annual meeting this April in Sacramento, California, to speak on behalf of AERC. It was very informative and I made some good contacts in the process. Randy Rasmussen, BCHA's advisor for public lands and recreation, and I speak often to devise ways to help our organizations work together. Many AERC members are BCHA members.

In May Gail Williams and I attended the American Trails Symposium in Portland, Oregon. The symposium is for all trail users: hikers, bikers, equestrians, ATV riders, and even kayakers. One glaring issue became clear -- many trails users are aging out, including equestrians.

The two groups that are getting all the youngsters are mountain bikers and hikers. If you have done much reading recently you will understand why -- the millennial generation is a mobile group that prefers to rent and easily be able to pick up and move when they desire.

What does this mean for equestrians? It's going to be difficult to get a lot of new younger members. Many millennials have no desire to spend their weekends fixing fence, mowing yards, conditioning horses, or anything else that goes along with home ownership. They prefer to live in their downtown lofts during the week, then grab their hiking shoes or mountain bikes and head outdoors for the weekend. They do a lot of trail work on their trails and they actively use them. Endurance riders (unless you're retired) are busy balancing our precious time between work, conditioning our horses, and keeping up with our property and equipment that goes along with having horses. Many endurance riders have very little time for trail work. AERC members need to be on a first-name basis with the land managers and park rangers where they condition or put on rides. Many land owners don't know the equestrians who use their trails. Trail riders, endurance and competitive trail riders and ride and tie competitors go out and ride and have very little interaction with park rangers. Land managers may get many requests a year for permits to have special events on their property. I had many land managers at the symposium tell me that when they have a big pile of permits they sift through them until they recognize a name as a familiar volunteer and those are the permits they approve. While that does not seem fair it is the reality of many situations.

Many areas are understaffed and are doing the best they can. So AERC members need to be on a first-name basis with the land managers and park rangers where they condition or put on rides. Ride managers tend to be some of the biggest trail workers because they are always getting trails ready for their rides. This is where everyone else needs to step up. Each ride manager should have a core group of riders willing to do the trail work while the ride manager can concentrate on the other aspects of the ride.

Riders also need to join their local BCHA chapter or the local trail group that maintains trails where you condition. By doing this you will be one of the first to know when changes are coming to the area. (This is not always true but the sooner you can find out about trail closures, land manager changes, or park closures, the easier it is to head off a situation.) It is a lot easier to work for change at the local level than once those changes have moved higher up.

So what does this have to do with the future of trails? The land managers know the millennials on their trails. So that means the hikers and mountain bikers already have their foot in the door.

AERC has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. I am in the process of getting those re-signed and also getting one signed with BCHA. Some local rides also have also have MOUs signed with their local parks. I highly encourage all ride managers to get one signed with the land managers they use for their rides. This document proves you work in cooperation with the land managers.

I also recommend getting a five-year permit signed if you can. The MOU and the five-year permit prove AERC has a good working relationship with the land manager. This can also help other ride managers get an MOU and five-year permit by proving AERC has a good working relationship with other parks.

The AERC Trails and Land Management Committee has approved $16,250 in trails grants so far this year with more requests coming in. The grants were approved in the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Texas and California.

The trails grant reserve has $40,000 in our account right now, and has received $5,000 in donations this year. As you can see, the trails grants reserve could run out of funding in less than two years.

The committee has scheduled two AERC Trail Master classes for 2016, in Oregon and Ohio. AERC members pay half their tuition and AERC picks up the rest of the tuition and all the expenses for the classes. These classes run AERC around $6,000 apiece. The Trail Master reserve has $4,500 at the moment. This reserve fund has received a few hundred dollars this year in donations.

The Trails Grants and Trail Master reserves need donations to continue to function for AERC.

So what should AERC members do to get ready for the 2016 season?

 • Join your local BCHA or trails group where you condition or put on a ride.

-- Get to know your rangers and land managers.

-- Volunteer to work on trails or help with anything your land manager might need.

-- Make contact with the other user groups on your trails: hikers, bikers, ATV-ers.

-- Volunteer with these other groups on some of their work days and invite them to work on yours.

-- When you renew your membership this year add $10 to the trails reserve (please specify whether you want it to go to trails grants or Trail Master classes) or $1 for every ride you will enter in this year.

If everyone would do this we could easily raise $40,000 to $50,000 a year. We could do eight to 10 trail grants a year all over the United States and Canada and train more Trail Masters to help head up the trail grants projects.

If you don't have time to volunteer or can't do the physical work involved, I ask you to consider contributing more.

Equestrians need to make our voices heard in the trails community. One of the ways we do that is by creating more Trail Masters or giving your local park a trails grant. The millennials may be younger and have more bodies out on the trail working. Equestrians have the knowledge of seeing the future and realize we need to work with everyone so we all have a place to ride.

Please check out the trails pages on the AERC website for more information on Trail Masters and trails grants. (The page will be undergoing some changes and updates in the next few months.) Please feel free to contact me about anything trail-related.

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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.