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Endurance News -- October 2020


President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
News on AERC's 2020 Awards
Classified Advertising


President's Letter: 2020 midyear meeting goes virtual

by Nick Kohut, DVM

For me, it has now been about two weeks since the board participated in its first virtual midyear meeting. It was decided a fairly long time prior to the meeting to forgo our usual face-to-face meeting due to the uncertainty of Covid restrictions and as a cost-saving effort for the organization.

Many, if not all, of us who have been on the board for some time now felt the loss of camaraderie and team-building that comes from the time spent with one another outside of the board room. However, all of us understood the necessity for this change.

The entire AERC board and office staff were in attendance and all were prepared for a long, arduous meeting. What actually transpired was way different than expected. All of your directors, both regional and at-large, were attentive and engaged which helped move the meeting along in an orderly fashion. A big thank you to all board members and the office staff for a highly successful meeting. We covered a lot of material during our time together. We started the same way we begin all of our meetings, by reviewing our current membership numbers (current and new members), sanctioning fees and rider fees. These numbers are compared with the previous year's numbers. During this time of uncertainty, the office staff needs to be commended for all of their efforts to keep our membership strong, as well as continued efforts to reach out through ads in other publications and emails to bring in new members.

Up next was our treasurer's report from Mollie Krumlaw-Smith. The material had been provided to the board prior to the meeting, so there was truly little discussion concerning the overall figures. It was during this discussion that the determination was made to have the upcoming annual AERC convention virtually. While Kathleen Henkel, our executive director, had worked with the hotel to get a generous extension for postponement, the deadline would have occurred prior to our next scheduled board meeting. If we canceled after the deadline had passed, we would have had to pay out over $35,000.

Instead of an in-person convention, the office staff is making plans for a fun, exciting and informative online gathering. There will be a virtual gathering of vendors, a raffle, seminars, and prizes and awards. You won't have to be a computer whiz to get involved. Watch Endurance News for details.

As a unifying venture, Robert Ribley led the whole board in a reaffirmation of their oaths to serve as board members. For a few current board members, this was actually their first time swearing in. The next order of business was to revisit a couple of motions that had been discussed at an earlier board meeting. The suspension of the national awards, excluding those determined by the Hall of Fame Committee, is covered in the article on the previous page.

Another item concerned a proposal for a joint venture with the Ride & Tie Association. To learn more about Ride & Tie please visit their website at rideandtie.org.

The board approved a motion brought forth by the National Championship and Junior/Young Rider committees to establish a Young Riders Championship to be held in conjunction with the 2021 AERC National Championships in Fort Howes, Montana. This motion actually arose from some young riders, so let us applaud their initiative.

This brought the board to the most time-consuming portion of the meeting. The Governance group, as part of AERC's strategic plan, had been tasked to review our current bylaws and, in conjunction with a California licensed attorney who specializes in nonprofit corporations, to present to the board suggested revisions.

Once again, the board excelled in efficiently evaluating the proposals and requesting a minimal number of follow-up questions. Please keep your eyes open for future details. Bylaws changes will require approval by the membership, so you will be fully informed of these proposals after the board has reached a consensus.

After being postponed from two prior board meetings, the board had a discussion concerning the timing of when additions to the agenda would be presented to the board. This item and another one concerning intra-board communications will be addressed at a future board meeting when the board plans to review all of AERC's policies with the goal of updating or adding new policies as needed. It should be noted that policies are not the same as rules and, as such, they are not found in our rule book.

As has been common for quite a while now, the board meeting wrapped up with a review of the status action items established at prior meetings and this included an update from the strategic plan groups.

In a relatively brief manner, that was our meeting in a nutshell. For a more detailed summary of the meeting, please see the board minutes prepared by our secretary, Connie Burns Caudill, which will be posted online (see the Resources tab at AERC.org) and printed in the next available issue of EN after they have been approved by the board.



Vice President's Letter: Respect, for both horses and humans

by Michael Campbell

Ask anyone (of a certain age), “What song is Aretha Franklin most famous for?"

The answer: “Respect."

Now, I understand that you may have that song in your head for the rest of the day after reading this, but respect is an important concept for human social relations, equine social relations and relations among the members of all social species.

Trainers often talk about whether a horse respects his rider/handler. They warn that it is important to “teach that horse respect." By that, they usually mean teach the horse the rules, i.e., the tolerable limits of their behavior. In general, this means that the horse is expected to attend to his rider/handler and respond to the directions or cues the rider/handler provides.

For the horse to respond correctly, we teach him to allow us to approach and submit to the halter, then later the saddle and bridle. The horse must learn to yield to the pressure of the lead rope which later generalizes to the pressure of the rein or leg or seat position. Once the horse is responsive to those tools of communication, he is said to respect the handler.

As social animals, horses are predisposed to respond to social cues. As soon as he is up, a newborn foal imprints on the first moving object (usually his dam) and follows, responding to her nudges and other cues; learning quickly that mom's nudges may be to her udder, and her flat ears mean “You messed up."

Mom's social signals easily generalize to the human caretaker given time, patience and repetition of the cues. If you touch your foot behind the girth on the horse's left side, he should move his hips to the right. But the first time you give that signal, the horse may not respond as you desire. With patient repetition, the horse will learn the meaning of your request.

When a horse does not respond as the rider requests, the rider's first inclination may be to think that the horse is being resistant and become angry. This can result in a relationship of mutual resentment and lack of respect. The more experienced horseman/woman will assume that the horse does not understand the request and take the time to teach the horse the appropriate response and improve mutual communication.

This happens among people, too. When someone disagrees with us, sometimes our first reaction is anger and resentment or outrage. Improved mutual communication may resolve such difficulty and increase mutual respect.

A classic example of this with horses is the transition buck. When asking a horse that is new to riding to move from a trot to a canter, riders often encounter a little buck of the hips as the horse sorts out the coordination of front and back feet in the new gait. I have known riders who insisted that the horse was trying to buck them off on purpose. With that opinion, it's easy to develop a negative attitude about the horse. More experienced riders slow to a trot and repeat the transition until the horse learns to coordinate his feet properly; they improve communication and respect.

Human children go through the same processes of learning respectful behavior and their parents have the responsibility to teach them with patience and repetition. So, when Mom says, “Take out the trash," the correct response is not “Later" or “Hmm." The correct response is “Yes, Ma'am," and learning it may require a lot of patience and repetition. It certainly did for my mom and dad.

Insisting on a correct and respectful response is ultimately mutually beneficial. If your parents successfully teach you respect for others, authority and the law, they don't have to come visit you in jail. It's certainly true that both children and horses will occasionally test the limits, just to see if they are still in place. The wise response is to correct the misbehavior (improve communication) and move on. Both kids and horses understand that the limits are still there and matter.

A lack of mutual respect puts the horse-rider relationship at serious risk. When a horse fails to respond correctly to a cue or does something unexpected, some riders become anxious and angry. Actually, we have all been through that experience at one time or another with horses and other people. In that moment, we are tempted to start down the trail of negative reactions -- calling the horse a name (stupid, lunkhead, etc.) or punishing the horse inappropriately.

One negative response makes a second one easier and a third easier still until you begin to think of the horse in negative terms (and with intolerance) all the time.

(There is a cartoon of two horses talking across a fence. One says to the other, “Hi, my name's Stupid. What's yours?")

As the rider, you are the dominant animal in the herd. It is your responsibility to establish a mutually respectful relationship. The best riders that I know never refer to their horses in negative terms. They recognize each horse's limitations but are sincerely appreciative of each horse's good qualities. They usually manage their own peer relationships with similar respect.

Going down that trail of negative reactions undermines mutual respect and creates a polarization of mutual resistance between the two parties. It's not a winning combination in endurance riding or life in general.

It's almost axiomatic in working with horses that sometimes, you have to go slower to get there faster. So patience in learning to work together defines a respectful relationship. Most experienced endurance riders know this about their horses, but could apply the same thought process to peers, new riders or new members. Developing mutual respect (and avoiding negative reactions) is good for the individual, his/her horse, our organization and our sport.

Like Aretha sang: “Respect." It's got a good rhythm for posting and trotting.



News on AERC's 2020 awards

by Connie Caudill

The year 2020 has been one that most of us will not forget. Endurance rides have been few and far between due to national, state and local Covid 19 restrictions. In some regions endurance rides have been nonexistent.

The Sanctioning Committee presented a motion back in April requesting that AERC not award or recognize 2020 national awards associated solely with 2020 competitions, but would still recognize awards that aren't solely associated with the yearly competitions, such as Hall of Fame (HOF) and mileage awards.

The committee saw all rides being cancelled in April and May, and understood that cancellations would most likely continue in certain parts of the country, making an unlevel playing field for people in some regions who weren't even allowed to leave their homes except for essential purposes.

Due to the uncertainty of how the ride schedule would unfold, the board deferred this motion until June and again deferred it until the August board meeting. As August rolled around it was sadly determined by the board that the only fair decision would be to not recognize national awards.

Withholding the regional awards was never an option, as many riders were able to participate from December through the first of March and some were able to begin again in June. AERC will award the regional awards the same as always. Rider/equine teams in the regional weight division standings will receive jackets/vest and the top five best condition equines an engraved halter.

The motion only affects the national awards where riders compete nationwide for points and miles.

The national awards that will not be given: Bill Stuckey Award, Bill Thornburgh Family Award, Bob and Julie Suhr Spouse Award, Pioneer Award, Jim Jones Stallion Award, War Mare Award, Kathy Brunjes Young Rider Award, National 100 Mile Award, Junior National 100 Mile Award, National Mileage Award, National Limited Distance Mileage Award, National Best Condition Award, National Limited Distance Best Condition Award, Rookie Award.

The following awards will be recognized at the end of the 2020 ride season: Decade Team, Longevity Award, 3000-mile equines and 5000-mile riders.

The following will be awarded in March at the virtual AERC convention: Pard'ners, HOF Equine, HOF Person, Perfect Ten, Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award, Volunteer Service Award, 5000 Mile Equines (and 1000 mile increments beyond 5000), breed association awards, regional awards, and the Anne Ayala Scholarship.



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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.