To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- September 2018

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
Rules Committee Update
Classified Advertising

President's Letter: Midyear meeting report

by Paul Latiolais

I am writing this article immediately after the August 4 midyear board meeting, held in Denver. A 100-mile ride would have been less work and less stress, and probably more fun. However, our efforts were rewarded with many accomplishments.

Additional LD time. One of the motions that passed will be of interest to all members who participate in 25-, 30- and 35-mile rides. Beginning in the 2019 season, limited distance riders will have an additional 30 minutes to pulse down for their final ride time.

Currently, endurance riders must cross the actual finish line in 12 hours for a 50, and then have an additional 30 minutes for their pulse-down. LD riders have only the six-hour window to complete, including pulse-down.

Effectively, the completion time will be extended for LD riders, including rides of 30 and 35 miles. The language of the rule will be included in the 2019 rule book.

National LD BC. The first national limited distance best condition award will added next season. The top ten equines (and their owners) will be honored at the 2020 convention.

Drug Testing Fee Increase. Last month's Veterinary Forum article by Dr. Jay Mero went over the reasons in detail for the necessity of the fee increase from $3 to $6 per rider next year. The board passed this measure, which will keep drug testing at current levels.

Up for discussion: "reasonable" OT mileage. There was much discussion about awarding miles, but not points, for "reasonable" overtimes on endurance rides. Riders would have to pass the vet check, of course, and the definition of "reasonable" is being worked out with the Ride Managers Committee.

Some riders might be wary of this proposal, but many riders ride for miles and not points. Is there a reason that we should not let them take a "reasonable" amount of time, especially on the tougher 50s? There are some gorgeous trails out there that most people (and their horses) just cannot experience at speed.

This is still in the "talking stage" and we are looking for member feedback before going forward. Please send comments to your directors. And more . . . These are just a few highlights of the many topics your board worked on and discussed in Denver last month. The minutes will appear in an upcoming issue of Endurance News and will hold more details -- or feel free to contact one of your directors for additional information.

WEG. By the time you read this article, I will be packing or already on my way to Tryon, North Carolina, for the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games' endurance competition. I am not sure how many countries will be competing, but it is a lot -- riders from 24 countries participated in the test event in April. I heard that Canada, France and Spain have all put together strong teams, along with the seasoned U.A.E. team. I will be scribing for a veterinarian and will let you know about my WEG experiences in my November EN column.

AERC National Championships. A week and a half after the 2018 WEG is the much-anticipated AERC National Championship Rides, close by Tryon at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. That should be fun, too. I have never visited the Great Smoky Mountains. I won't be riding the Championships; I am volunteering for it, but I do hope to get to ride on the Estate on a different day. More on this experience in November's column too.

Autumn plans. In case you were wondering how I managed to fly all over the country this summer, I am retired as of July 1. I have been having way too much fun this summer, and I hope to have even more in the fall. I am already planning my fall and winter ride schedule. So many rides, so little time!

Time to get Bob conditioned for his first 50 in October in Nevada. I am looking forward to more riding after all this summer's travels. Make some time to get out and enjoy your horse. Life is short.

Vice President's Letter: Awesomely scenic AERC ride venues

by Monica Chapman

Those of you who know me understand that I am not an overly competitive rider. When the day is right and conditions are right for my horse, I can be competitive. Usually an endurance ride for me is a social experience to catch up with old friends and make new ones. I enjoy the time with my horse and taking in the breathtaking scenery of our nine beautiful AERC regions.

I have a goal of finishing a ride in every state. So far I have completed in 24 states on my own horses. (I'm not very good at catch riding.) Here are a few of my favorite currently-held scenic rides AERC has to offer. There are many picturesque AERC rides that are not held anymore. I chose not to list them because that wouldn't be very nice since you wouldn't now be able to attend them.

Maah Daah Hey (MW). This ride is held in Western North Dakota in the Theodore Roosevelt National Grasslands on the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The area is considered the North Dakota Badlands. It is breathtaking. Ride camp is great and right off Interstate 94 with pens, hook-ups, hotel, and restaurant/bar. Watch for 2019 date, likely in late June. 2017: 2 days, 25/35/50.

Big South Fork. The BSF is in Northern Tennessee in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. This ride has beautiful, challenging trails that go up and down the mountains and along the river. Ride camp was a little tight with space when I attended because it is a very popular ride. Great vets and ride management round out the must-haves for a good ride. 2018 dates: September 7 & 8, 30/50 each day. Held early September each year in Oneida, TN.

Pine Tree. A beautiful, quaint area of Western Maine. The trails wind around the countryside of small-town New England. Friendly folks wave at you as you ride by. At an out-of-camp vet check the ground was covered in native blueberries. Covered bridges were so picturesque. Ride camp was at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds in Maine. It was well worth the trip. 2018 dates: August 7-11, 5 days, 25/50 each day. Held in August each year in Fryeburg, ME.

Jo Tate Memorial. A challenging and scenic ride in the Ozarks in Southwest Missouri. This is one of my all-time favorite rides and it's not far from my house. It is a great combination of forest service road to move out on to make up for the climbs and twisty turns in the single-track trail. It is a remote camp with primitive camping. Horse water provided. It's a two-day ride held on Memorial Day weekend every year. The ride always has a laid-back, party-with-your-friends feel. 2018 dates: May 26 & 27 with 25/35/50 mile distances. Held on Memorial Day weekend in Washburn, MO.

Kanopolis Canyons. This ride is held in central Kansas. Amazingly, it is not all crops and flat. The ride has rolling grasslands around a lake with canyons and deep sand in some areas. The trail goes through the ends of the lake which can be deep at times. It is a very challenging ride that surprises many people who are new to the area. The campground has pens, hook-ups, shower house, and shelter house. 2018 date: May 12; distances: 24/35/50. Watch for 2019 date. Location: Marquette, KS.

Let me know about your scenic favorites:

Rules Committee Update: LD riders get a little more time

by Steph Teeter

You and your horse are on a 25-mile ride, it's been a hot day and the rocky trail took longer than you anticipated. You'll need to hurry now to get to the finish in time to pulse down before the six-hour cutoff. Hopefully your horse will pulse down quickly, but the more you hurry, the slower your horse's recovery will be, and darn you'd hate to lose your completion . . . or

You are a ride manager, waiting for your last 25-mile riders. The time is getting close to the six-hour cut-off, and the last four riders just finished the trail. Now the clock shows 10 minutes left for their horses to reach criteria -- splashing water, dropping saddles, frantically checking watches, pulse-takers going from horse to horse, hoping Zippy will drop to 60 bpm. When time runs out, two of the horses are down and they have completed. The other two are close, but still at 64­ -- according to the rules they are now disqualified, and get an Overtime pull code. If you've experienced either of these scenarios, you feel frustrated -- the horse finished the trail in the time allowed, but didn't get the full 30 minutes to recover that the other horses had.

At the midyear board meeting the Rules Committee proposed a slight change to the LD rules which would grant competitors the full amount of time (according to the mileage completion charts in the rule book) to finish the trail. If the horse and rider make it across the designated finish line within the time allowable, the in-timers will record their arrival time, and then the horse still has 30 minutes to reach the 60 bpm criteria for a placement and completion.

This will not change the current method for determining placement and finish time for LD. All competitors will still be placed according to the time that their horse reaches criteria. First to pulse is still first to finish, and the time on the clock when each horse reaches criteria is the time recorded by AERC in the ride results.

This will only affect the "turtles" -- the slow riders who like to enjoy every minute of the trail, or had a tough time getting around for whatever reason. Most will not even notice the change, but if you're riding slowly, you will no longer have to worry about having less time to pulse down if you're racing against the clock. Just get to the finish line by cut-off time, and then you'll still have the 30 minutes to reach criteria. Wording of the approved motion:

LD competitors will be allowed the entire maximum time to complete the course per AERC Bylaw 4.01 (b) Limited Distance Ride: A "Limited Distance Ride" is defined as an event in which the same equine and rider cover a specified course of between 25 and 35 miles within a maximum time limit proportional to 6 hours per 25 miles and conforms to the Rules in effect at the time of the Ride. This time shall not include the time required to meet 60 bpm criteria. The actual finish time will be recorded when pulse reaches the criteria.

LD rules shall specify that this amount of time will apply to the completion of the course (trail) and not include the time that it takes for the competitor's horse to reach criteria which determines the competitor's Finish Time per AERC results.

For example, if a 25-mile rider finishes the physical course (start line to finish line) within the six-hour time frame, they will not be disqualified. The 30-minute maximum time to reach criteria of 60 bpm will begin once the course is completed.

Example 1. Ride begins at 10:00 a.m. with a 30-minute hold. Jane and Dobbin arrive at the finish line (defining the end of the course) at 2:00 p.m. The time it took them to complete the course is four hours. Dobbin pulses down in 20 minutes. Jane's finish time is 3:50 (four hours, minus 30-minute hold, plus 20-minute pulse time). This is the time recorded in AERC results.

Example 2. Ride begins at 10:00 a.m. with a 30-minute hold. John and Red arrive at the finish line at 4:00 p.m. The time it took them to complete the course is six hours. Red pulses down in 20 minutes. John's finish time is 5:50 (six hours, minus 30-minute hold, plus 20-minute pulse time). This is the time recorded in AERC results.

Existing AERC LD rules would have disqualified John and Red because they didn't reach criteria before the six-hour maximum time limit was up.

This rule change will allow the slowest LD riders the entire six hours to complete the course (trail) without having to consider the time it takes for their horses to reach criteria within that six-hour time frame. The "pulse to finish" philosophy to deter racing across a finish line will still apply to LD rides.

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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.