To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- September 2017


President's Letter
Vice President's Message
Trails Post
Junior/Young Rider News
Classified Advertising


President's Letter: The productive struggle

by Paul Latiolais, AERC President

You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." So said Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.

"I have not failed," said Thomas Edison, when asked how it felt failing so many times before he made a working light bulb. "I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Endurance is a difficult sport. That is what attracted me to it, and what keeps me interested. Winning has never been a goal. Getting better has been the goal. As such, I have tended to focus on what hasn't worked in my journey to find what does. Early success is too often boring and uninteresting. We learn very little from success.

When I tell stories, I tend to focus on the ones where something almost worked. One story that I like to tell was when my horse, Pete, and I were coming up on our 3,000th mile mark. I showed up at the ride with 2,965 miles, expecting to ride 50 miles two days in a row. The Saturday ride would be the clincher, and Sunday ride would be the reward.

Well, long story short, Pete lamed himself on a warm-up ride right before the Friday vet-in. I figured my weekend was a bust. However, at the Saturday morning start, I was hand-walking Pete to keep him from hurting himself further while his pasture mate went out. The vet and I both noticed that Pete was no longer lame as he trotted excitedly in circles around me.

So off we went on Sunday, having a great ride with friends. To top off the day, we came in seventh. The first rider was an hour ahead of me, but I had a good 100 pounds on her. I figured we were a shoe-in for best condition.

Pete vetted in great, getting our 3,000 miles. We had a super CRI as well at 10 minutes, and then I cleaned Pete up for the hour trot-out.

At the hour, Pete looked wonderful! He trotted out beautifully! In the bag, right? As we turned around for the trot back, Pete cramped in his left hind. "Game over, man."

This had never happened before in Pete's first 2,965 endurance miles, nor in his 500-plus LD miles. I had a bottle of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) in my trailer that I had not used. (It is supposed to keep muscles from cramping.)

My response to all of this was to laugh. And to be honest, I still laugh about it. What an anticlimactic end to a great ride!

I put Pete in his enclosure while my friends brought out what was left of the "3000-mile congratulations" cake they had gotten into on Friday. We had party hats and streamers. It was a memorable ending to a memorable weekend.

Pete never got leg cramps again, but my next endurance horse, Frank, does. I knew to start him on BCAA. When that did not completely solve the problem, I researched magnesium supplements and talked to a couple of vets about him. Frank seems to be doing fine now.

So what is the point of all of this? My point is that people are attracted to this sport for a lot of reasons, but those who stay do so in part because they treat their struggles as learning experiences. It's the learning that keeps them engaged.

The most common initial experiences of new riders are generally not ones of success. A few succeed right off the bat, but most do not, because they just do not know enough: their horse is not suited to the sport, or the tack doesn't fit right, or the rider forgets to go to the vet at the half-hour hold. There is just too much to know and learn.

How can we retain the people who do not have initial success in the sport until they do succeed and learn to enjoy struggling productively?

One approach is to force the new people to engage in the sport more slowly to guarantee initial success. Another is to ensure that they have mentors. Good ideas, but I would argue that they do not address the key issue, which is the productive struggle. These approaches won't necessarily help them when they do fail.

To be clear, I am not promoting that we let people fail, and in particular I am not saying that we should consciously allow situations that result in horses getting injured. What I am saying is that when people do fail, we need to help them see that failure as a stepping-stone to their next success. We should not yell at them for that thing they did or did not do that was an obvious blunder. We do need to communicate to riders who fail that all is not lost. They just learned something to avoid the next time they ride.

We should be promoting the notion of the productive struggle that we are all engaged in to become better equestrians. Now go out there, have fun on your horses, be safe, and learn something.



Vice President's Message: My horses

by Susan Kasemeyer

Idecided to write about most of the wonderful horses that I have been lucky to own and ride in our sport.

Remember that I began in endurance about 40 years ago, so things were very different then. There was just one book written about endurance and it was from Great Britain so it didn't teach you much. No CDs (or actually VCR tapes), no Facebook to keep you up on the latest, and Endurance News was about three pages of mostly ride results. Later some Southeast Region folks got together and wrote a book of "how-to" but that was years after I had learned how by doing.

Surprise -- I started with an Appaloosa as that is what I owned at the time. I always tell new folks to try our sport with what they own and see if they like it . . . then, if they want to be up front, to get an Arabian. Spider was pretty good on LDs but when I took him on his first 50, and mine, he thumped. Scared me to death!

My veterinarian said if I was lucky, it was an electrolyte imbalance and we could do something about that. Of course no one knew what electrolytes were or where to get any. Found some powder and so put it in his water bucket -- what a brain I am -- now he will not even take a sip. Oops! Finally got some made up in a syringe and the rest of the horses down the years did not thump.

Those days an Arabian was way out of my price range but a local friend was raising them and loaned me one to try in the sport and I later bought Mosca. He was faster than greased lightning and holding him back was a fight for about 40 miles, then we often walked a lot. He was wonderful fun and I didn't mind going slow at the end. I always say, "The thrill of victory in endurance is passing someone on the last leg who has been in front of you all day" and, "The agony of defeat is being in front all day and getting passed on the last leg."

We had several agonies. He had to be retired because of weak tendons and the search was on.

A friend offered me a beautiful mare who I had planned to just show but since she was the only thing I owned who was at least 4, she became my next mount and my first 3,000 mile horse. Bo Golden Melody was a golden palomino with blue eyes, and so blue became my endurance colors and were until the end. I also always liked 13 as a lucky number so almost all the ride managers kept that number for me. (It wasn't too popular with anyone else anyway.)

Another thing about the "old days" were all holds were timed holds instead of gates, most of the time two 30-minute holds with a one-hour hold in the middle. Therefore, as long as your horse came down during the hold period, you left out with the same horses you arrived with. If it had been gates then, Bo would have probably been replaced quickly as you never knew what she would do. Sometimes she recovered as soon as you stripped tack and started cooling and other times you had to drown her for the hold period and pray.

We often carried nearly 100 gallons of water with us and rarely had to dump any out at the end. I often wonder if I had the knowledge then that I have now, could I have managed her better? Oh well. She was tough and the vets didn't stress too much as they knew her, but I won at least one ride in which she came down within one beat and hung for hours and I got nothing.

During this time the Race of Champions came into being and although I hadn't planned on ever doing a 100, I wanted to go and compete so Bo and I got qualified. My farrier had discovered fiberglass shoes and he thought their light weight might be a plus. I tried them out for over 150 miles and they did great -- in the SE. Colorado's rocks wore them down to nothing and by the halfway point Bo was off and so ended my first trip to ROC . . . but oh, what fun, and I would be back.

The AERC championship back then was top 25 in the nation and I decided to see if I could go to enough rides to get in; we made it to 22nd and was I ever proud.

Gates started to get more use, ROC really upped a lot of safety for the horses, in my opinion, and Bo was so much work. I loaned her out to a junior to ride for a while and finally sold her for a show horse . . . back to her original career.

I was looking again and a friend had a nice gelding who was off almost all the time. She didn't want to spend the money to try to find out what was wrong so I made a deal to take Ben Abou Adhem to the vet clinic at the University of Tennessee to see what they could find; if it was fixable, I would buy him. It was an abscess which I knew how to manage so Ben came home with me. What a horse! He was twice as strong and hard to hold as Mosca, but he was the same way all the way through, even in a 100. I rode him in a tie-down and mechanical hackamore and kept him from running over everyone.

We were really shocked when I would come into a vet check and he would be breathing fire and by the time he was unsaddled he was usually ready to walk into the pulse box. We downsized our water containers. After about 2,000 miles, he injured a suspensory and once it healed he would be sound for a couple of rides, then the old injury would flare up.

A friend who could only go to one or two rides a year bought him and had fun for many years. Oh, Ben and I went back to ROC and he got (we think) altitude sickness and had to pull but I would be back.

Next came my Pard'ner and best friend for over 7,000 miles, Royal Run Amir. He had been doing some endurance in Mississippi since he was 4 and my husband really liked him. When the family quit endurance and put all their horses up for sale, my hubby wanted me to buy him. I was afraid he had done too much too soon and I had some home-bred horses to train so I didn't.

Then a year or more later, I called to see if he was still there and they said yes, but he had been turned out doing nothing for a year. I was in Mississippi the next day to bring him home. Didn't take long to get him ready to go and whatever I had in mind, he was game.

That year I went for my third try at ROC. When he pulsed down right away at the first VC and had a CRI of 48/44, Hubby and I started celebrating -- we finished the tough Big Horn course. Later, because he was so easy to get to pulse recovery, I started riding calvary, first at Old Dominion and later "solo," as they called it at ROC. Won the award for that division a couple of times at OD and once at ROC.

At that time, Tevis had a similar division and I began to make plans to try that as I was sure no horse had ever won all three. Well, for some reason Tevis discontinued their division so that was the last time I planned on going to California.

I think Amir would have been a winning multi-day horse but because I lived in the East, there were not many to attend. I tried the five-day Shore to Shore ride and he finished all five days, coming in first the last day. Then we drove the long way home from Michigan. The next weekend was a two-day ride in Georgia. Amir was second the first day and first by an hour the second day -- what a horse!

He was also the laziest horse in some ways. A toddler could trot him out for the vets, he was that slow. I figured he knew his job was going down the trail and there was no reason to waste energy in the VC. That probably also contributed to his great recoveries.

One of my big secrets was to trot past folks walking into the vet check. They would get worried and speed up and we would waltz into the pulse gait first. His other big plus was his downhills -- you needed to just drop the reins and hang on and he would fly down, passing everyone. But, oh, how he hated uphills . . . all the ones we passed would leave us behind.

Guess you can tell who was my favorite. Amir only won a few, and only a very few BCs, but he was a perfect almost-10 to me, and we earned the Pard'ners Award in 1996. I got Amir's 15-year pin last year . . . one more award for my guy.

During all this time my daughter, Nina, was also riding when she could. She finally settled on a homebred colt, Coujur, and between us he became another 3,000-mile horse and took her through the ROC. We even loaned him to a friend to take to Tevis when she won an entry in the AERC raffle.

I have to say that since I got to manage him from the beginning, I finally got it right and he was manageable from start to finish. On the last leg, we would drop the control and let him go how he wanted to and he often passed almost everyone.

By then Amir was making it pretty clear that the rides were only fun for about 25 miles. He had "seen the USA" and preferred his pasture and I started looking again.

A friend mentioned she had an 11-year-old gelding that had belonged to a lady who was ill and just wanted the horse used. I met Dru Gray and took him home on loan. He was short (nice as I was older), stocky and well-trained. I bet he had never done more than five miles at a time. He did 100s, multi-days, won BC (would trot out in hand like he was Becky Hart's Rio -- R.O. Grand Sultan+//), anything I asked. However, after over 2,000 miles, he started having an off-and-on hind end lameness so he went to a pleasure trail riding home. Wish I had gotten him at 5 years.

I had always heard about the Rushcreek horses and thought if I could have any horse that would be where I would look. Wonderful news -- they were having a big reduction sale at the ranch we so packed up the horse trailer and headed out to Nebraska. We looked at every horse on the place and the last day saw a gray that just called to me: Rushcreek Quantum (Tummy). He was broke but not in shape. Took my time, hoping to get my next 100-mile horse.

I took him on a 30-miler and then a 50, trying to turtle. I had many big plans but then I broke my neck and decided to hang up my saddle. I called Steve Rojek and asked him to buy Tummy as I knew he would get used and probably be a made horse. He is almost to 1,000 miles now and has done his first 100.

For me, going to rides is awfully easy these days with not having to haul a big trailer, get up in the middle of the night to do an early feeding, or worry over EDPP -- but I still enjoy going to be with my friends and family and all their wonderful horses.

Hug your horses and thank them for all the fabulous trails they have carried you down. Susan



Trails Post: Trails and why I do endurance

by Monica Chapman

This article is not to preach to AERC members that everyone must go out and do 20 hours of trail work a year. What it is about is how I came to fully appreciate the importance of my position as the AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Chair. When I got my first horse as an adult it was a 10-year-old chestnut Arabian mare named Ahmar Rishe. I had never heard of endurance but I was a Black Stallion fan from childhood and I wanted an Arabian. I would spend hours each day on the weekends riding the back roads around Lawrence, Kansas, by myself. My husband and I moved to San Antonio, Texas, due to my husband's job. We settled in the Texas Hill Country, near Bandera. I had seen a television show about endurance riding and once I was settled I asked my veterinarian if he knew any endurance riders. He gave me some names and it's been history ever since. I've been an active endurance rider since 1995, amassing more than 3,000 limited distance miles and over 7,000 endurance miles. I have completed rides in 23 states and six regions, competing in LDs, 50s, 100s and multi-day rides. Once I moved back to the Kansas City area it made getting to more rides a lot easier since Kansas City is almost the geographical center of the 48 states. I have always had a desire to see different areas of the United States. I always want to see what's around the next corner. This sport has allowed me to meet many interesting, awesome, inspirational, motivated, intelligent, and horse-crazy people. Most of my best friends are people I met through endurance riding. Endurance riders are my tribe. I love my local rides that I have been doing for years. They are like comfort food. When I have a new or young horse I plan those rides because I know exactly what I'm getting into. I can plan accordingly to the ability of the horse based on weather and terrain. What gets me excited is going to new rides and new trails. I take my old, reliable horse so I know I have the best chance to finish the ride with the least amount of stress to me and my horse. I feel like a kid in a candy store with new trails: the wildlife, breathtaking views, making new friends, and time bonding with my horse. I plan my vacations to go far out of region and do new rides and see new places. I have a goal of doing a ride in every state. I am hoping to add North Dakota to my list this year. Many AERC members get into this sport to spend time bonding with their horse and just want to ride. I have also heard from numerous AERC members this phrase: "I pay my taxes, park fees, etc. -- they should be doing the trail maintenance." I will admit I had the same feelings when I started this sport. It became apparent within a few years as I got to know more members and ride managers that ride managers normally don't make money (it's a labor of love). I also realized most trail systems are seriously underfunded and understaffed. So it is up to volunteers working with the land managers, whether it's public or private, to keep trails up to a safe standard for AERC members to have places to compete or condition. I was finally talked into becoming a ride manager. I managed the Big Hill Blowout for four years. I then became a board of directors member and eventually President for three years of Ozark Country Endurance Riders, a regional endurance organization in the Central Region. It was in 2007 that I made the jump to the AERC Board of Directors as the regional sanctioning director for the Central Region, a position I still hold. Overall I have enjoyed being on the AERC board. It is so easy to get caught up into assuming every region in AERC does things the same or to think, "My region does it right and everyone else is wrong." Being on the AERC board really points out the differences in regions, from numbers of loops in a 50-mile ride, accurate trail mileage or lack thereof, land manager expectations (for example, weed-free hay required west of the Rockies but not east), pulse criteria, etc. I was appointed AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Chair at the AERC national convention in March 2015 after serving on the Trails Committee for many years. I am one of those people who won't take on a position unless I feel I have the time and energy to do it justice. I have thrown myself into the position, averaging 20 hours a week (sometimes to the detriment of conditioning my horses). I travel to Washington DC twice a year to attend meetings with other trail organizations and meet with federal land managers and congressmen. It has been a huge learning curve since there is no step-by-step manual to follow. AERC does have a strategic plan that outlines some items but in general it has been a huge trial-and-error process. I thank my committee members for being patient and understanding with me. So getting back to why I do endurance and how being the Trails Committee chair has brought my endurance career full circle -- if we don't have trails we have no place to ride. Even if AERC were to go belly-up, most AERC members would still go out and ride trails. Picking a new ride in a new area to attend keeps me motivated to keep riding. It also exposes me to new areas of this great country that I have not seen before. It has been amazing when I meet with congressmen and federal land managers how many times I have ridden an endurance ride in their state or forest. It automatically gives us something in common to talk about. If there is anything I can ask of our members, is to give back to this organization in some manner. There are so many ways you can give back: donate funds to trails, education, or research; be a ride manager; help at rides; do trail work; be on a committee; serve in the regional organizations, etc. Feel free to contact me with any questions or a recommendation for a great scenic ride on either coast or in-between.



Junior/Young Rider News: Riding on top of the world

by Sarah Holloway

I had no idea what to expect when we drove seven hours up to the brand-new endurance ride, Top O The World Pioneer, located in the backcountry just above Spencer, Idaho. In reality, it blew my expectations away and I'm so thankful that I had the opportunity to go. Stephanie Teeter, myself and my aunt Connie headed up to the ride on Wednesday, July 26. We all planned to ride the Pioneer. As we were just coming in, Steph pulled over so we could get some pictures of the view up in the high country, complete with a double rainbow. We had an advantage coming in an extra day early -- it was easy for us to just pull right in to ride camp, which at the time only had eight or so trailers. Ride camp was in a meadow with water troughs lining the road. We settled in and went to the bonfire to talk to ride manager Jessica Cobbley and her husband Mike. We planned that the next morning we would follow some ribbons up for a little pre-ride. We slept in a bit on Thursday and headed out for our ride. My horse Desi was leading and he was quite spooky because we were in a completely new environment. Home is in the hot desert, but up in the high country the temperature only got up to 80° and we were surrounded by trees. Coming back from the pre-ride I knew that I would have a fresh horse in the days to come. That afternoon the rest of our Oreana neighborhood pulled in: Regina, Merri, and Carol. At ride meeting that evening there were many friendly faces and a couple new ones, mostly from Montana. The ride was dual-sanctioned with the Mountain Region Endurance Riders (mrer.org) so some people showed up seeking points for their organization. David Honan was the official ride photographer and, having purchased many pictures from him in the past, I was excited for the shots to come. Jessica made the ride we were to do the next day very clear and handed out simple maps. When I woke up to get ready on day 1 the hills were coated with a mist and the sun was just barely shining through. We started out on the flat with easy-going trail and we really moved out for the first six or so miles. Then we started out on a gradual climb that would eventually take us up to the ridge we would ride. After a few more easy miles up we came around a corner of the two-track to find a couple water troughs at a viewpoint. Ride management had set out a cooler filled with water and sports drinks so not only the horses, but the riders too, left replenished. From there we rode the ridge which had many jaw-dropping views and the best wildflowers of the weekend. As we came to a steep downhill from the ridge there was easily accessible natural water for our horses. For about the next four miles we rode through an open meadow and came around the corner to ride camp. We gave our horses a drink and some bites of the mash provided at the troughs before vetting our horses through. The pulsers, timers, and vets took care of us swiftly before we headed back to the trailer for our basic hold routine. Our second loop was simple and easy. We rode through aspen up along the river. This would be the second loop for the 50s all three days. We ran into to David Honan on this loop and he took our photos for the third time this day; he effectively gets many completely different shots throughout the ride. We came back into camp with three strong horses who were all ready to go another day. The Spencer Grill catered the ride and successfully fed our group good food every night. Awards were given out and since we had top tenned we received a Top Ten cup and completion t-shirt. Some new people showed up for day two and we were filled in on the next ride at the ride meeting. Day 2 would be the 55, but the trails were easier than day 1 and the finish times ended up faster. We started out in the morning on a two-track that led us a few miles up to a fenceline where we entered Montana. We rode along the Continental Divide for a few miles on a fairly even ridge. The views were some of the best I've ever seen and there was even a lookout point where you could see the tiny specks of ride camp. We met up with our friend Shyla on the ridge and rode the rest of the ride with her. Dead trees on this loop gave completely different surroundings than we had the day before. The trail then took us on a long gradual down through meadows, through the trees, along the creeks, and down the draw. At the vet check we came in for our one-hour hold and left refreshed. It was fun riding the prior day's trail over again because now we knew it. We were surprised to find the water trough that Shyla had requested at Porcupine Pass had been put in with a cooler of drinks too. Each day there was a volunteer waiting at the open gate so we could easily come through. Steph, Connie, Shyla, and I had a four-way tie for 10th that afternoon. That night at awards the completion award was a Top O The World water bottle and the next day's maps were once again clearly explained at ride meeting. On day 3 we woke up, as usual, at 5:40 for the 7:00 start time. By day 3 everything was in order and everything flowed smoothly. Steph rode with our neighbor Carol, so Connie and I rode with our close friend Anne who had ridden the day before. Connie and Anne were both on Drinkers of the Wind (DWA) horses who knew each other well. The morning began on an old winding logging trail with excellent footing which we trotted the whole way. After we were on the logging rode for several miles, we got on common trail from the day before which had a gradual slope back to ride camp. Instead of going straight home as we had on day 2, we had to turn off for an additional five or so mile loops back around to camp. For the third time we headed out on our easy second loop and it almost felt like I was doing a favorite training ride at home; it never got old. Completing day 3 was a big success as it was our second Pioneer completion of the season. My horse Desi and I reached our 1,000 miles as a team in the past two years. Also we placed eighth that day which made it our third top ten completion of the weekend. After the awards we sat around the fire for a couple hours and had our last night out in the backcountry. We trailered out the next morning feeling satisfied with the completions of the weekend and sad to be leaving such an amazing place. I can't wait to see this ride grow in the coming years and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to attend this season!



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