To Finish Is To Win

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Endurance News -- September 2019

President's Letter
Vice President's Letter
Rules Committee News
National Championship News
Classified Advertising

AERC's midyear meeting

by Monica Chapman

My column this month will highlight the AERC Board of Directors midyear meeting. It was a great meeting that saw a new high in BOD camaraderie. A real group effort of working towards what is best for AERC was the sense of the day.

Note: A series of articles will be in upcoming Endurance News editions pertaining to the following motions. Please look forward to reading them and discussing with your AERC family. To read the complete wording of the following motions, go to

The Safe Sport Motion was passed with a few amendments. The AERC office will be publishing the Safe Sport policy and instructions on completing the training course on the AERC website. An article by Jan Stevens in this issue of Endurance News gives more detailed information -- see page 7.

The Endurance Regional Points Standings Motion was passed with a few amendments. It will be implemented as soon as possible. The motion will allow equine/rider teams to be listed on the AERC website in the point standings before reaching the minimum required points to win a year-end award.

The Limited Distance Regional Awards Motion was passed with a few amendments. The motion calls for AERC to adjust the minimum requirement from 200 LD miles to 100 LD miles for an equine/rider team to be eligible for a regional LD award and to be listed in the standings in Endurance News and on the AERC website. This has been implemented -- see the award listings on page 33.

The Insurance Motion passed. This motion upped our aggregate insurance from $2 million to $3 million.

The Motion for the Policy of Reporting Inaccurate Mileage was withdrawn by the Sanctioning Committee. The Motion to Exclude Gate and Time from Competition Time and the Motion Establishing 40 and 45 Mile Long Rides were tabled.

The New Vision for International Riding Motion was sent to the AERC International Committee. The Education Committee, with the addition of Olin Balch, DVM, and Christoph Schork, will be joining AERC-I to work on this motion.

Legal Committee member Barbara Baris discussed how the American with Disabilities Act applies to AERC. The Legal Committee will be updating the AERC website with a policy in the upcoming months.

Rider starts continue to drop in AERC this year. Some of that can be attributed to rides being cancelled due to weather. Directors will continue to work with regional groups, ride managers and AERC members. Remember the AERC office is promoting a Ride One More campaign. Get out there and ride!

The AERC board also did a breakout session to continue to develop and implement our Strategic Plan. It is progressing nicely.

The BOD worked hard during this 13-and-a-half-hour meeting. I am very proud of all the productive discussion and how much the BOD accomplished. The BOD highly appreciated AERC Legal Committee Member Barbara Baris for attending.

Vice President's Letter: The annual AERC awards process

by Nick Kohut, DVM

While I can't divulge how this year's choices for the 2019 AERC special awards turned out, I can give you some insight into who makes the decisions and how they are made.

The Hall of Fame Committee (HoF) is chaired by that year's current AERC vice president and is comprised of each region's non-sanctioning director as well as the current AERC president who is a de facto member of every AERC committee. The total number of HoF members will range between nine and 11, depending on whether the president and vice president are also regional versus at-large directors and if they are the region's sanctioning director.

Members of the committee who are either nominated for one of the awards or have an equine nominated are excluded from all discussions and considerations for those specific awards.

At any time throughout the year, AERC members can submit nominations to the office for each of the special year-end awards. A list of the awards, along with definitions and lists of previous winners, is available on the AERC website by going to the "Competition" tab and clicking on "Awards" from the drop-down menu. Each nomination will stay on the list of applicants for three years following reception of the nomination. Re-nominating in subsequent years is beneficial for the committee during considerations.

The HoF Committee meets the evening prior to the start of each year's AERC mid-year board meeting. In general, the office will close that year's nominations about 10 days prior to the meeting. They will then put all the information provided with the nominations for each award into digital files and will share those with each member of the committee. Each member is asked to review this material prior to the meeting.

For the past several years it has been the standard practice for any committee member who will be unable to attend the meeting to send their choices to the chair of the committee for inclusion in the voting.

The exact method used to determine the winner of each award varies to some degree with each new chair of the committee, but the general process remains pretty much the same.

Depending on the number of nominations for a specific award, the first step may be to determine whether any of the nominations actually meet the definition of the award and rise to the level of a national award winner. If none do, the committee can decide not to award any winner that year. This has happened several times over the years.

During the meeting, each member will contribute their choice for a winner in each award. It is not uncommon to have more than one contribution for certain awards. This is especially true for the Hall of Fame Person award. In my opinion, this is the most difficult award to choose a winner, primarily because every applicant on the list is deserving of inclusion in the Hall of Fame. The decision is which one to induct that specific year.

Unless there is a unanimous decision from the start, the next step is for general discussion from each member on the merits of their choice(s). The committee will take into consideration the information sent in by the membership and testimony from members of the committee with personal interactions with the nominees. Where applicable, the committee will also look at AERC ride records.

Following those discussions, the result comes down to a majority vote. The results are given to the office and to the best of everyone's ability kept secret from everyone excluding those deemed essential in presenting the award at the AERC convention.

The dilemma of allowing variable holds

by Michael Campbell, Rules Committee Chair

Over the past year, some ride managers experimented with variable hold times. Under this system, each rider must have the same total hold time but may choose individually how much time to take at each hold. Typically, everyone has the same hold times -- say, 90 minutes total for a 50 mile ride. The hold times are fixed for everyone at, perhaps, 45 minutes at each hold.

Under the variable hold time system, a rider could choose to take a 30-minute hold at the first vet check and a one-hour hold at the second vet check. Different riders could make different choices for reasons of strategy or for what they thought was in the best interest of their horse.

Several board members heard complaints from members about the variable hold time procedure. The Rules and Bylaws Committee submitted a motion to the board at the June 17 conference call meeting to require all hold times to be the same for every rider in a given ride -- those hold times to be determined by the ride manager. This rule would, in effect, do away with variable hold times.

During the June 17 board meeting, several board members requested additional feedback from the membership. Obtaining such feedback is the purpose of this article.

Below are the arguments on both sides of this question:

In favor of variable hold times:

1. Allows the rider to make better choices for his/her horse re: rest and recovery during a ride

2. As a result of those better choices, could ultimately improve horse welfare

3. Allows riders to ride tactically in order to win or place well

4. Gives ride managers more control/flexibility.

In opposition to variable hold times:

1. May cause confusion among competitive riders who are uncertain of the status of their competitors and result in poor choices or over-riding

2. Makes it difficult for veterinarians to judge the relative well-being of the horse without knowing how much rest the horse will get at any point in the ride (this was mentioned by an experienced ride veterinarian)

3. Creates problems for timers, especially with more riders -- increased complexity

4. May cause confusion among new or less experienced riders

5. Inexperienced riders may provide their equines inadequate rest between loops thus adversely affecting the welfare of their horses

6. Riders are more likely to misjudge the metabolic status of their equines and put them at risk

7. This proposal disregards rules that require input from control judges to set hold times.

These are surely not exhaustive lists of all the pros and cons for this issue. As you consider whether you support the motion to require fixed hold times or prefer the variable hold time strategy, please inform one of your regional directors or director-at-large of Directors of your preference.

You may also copy me on your preference at

The 2019 National Championship (fantastic) ride venue

by Melissa Ribley, DVM

The 2019 AERC National Championship Ride at Twenty Mule Team (and a variety of open rides) will be held in Ridgecrest, California, at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds on October 31 (50 miles) and November 2 (100 miles). Ridgecrest is located in the Pacific Southwest Region and is approximately two and a half hours north of Los Angeles and six hours south of Sacramento. It is located in the heart of the Mojave Desert and is the gateway to Death Valley.

The recent earthquakes have put this small town of 29,000 people on the map. As of the time of writing this article, the basecamp and trail are in good shape, the local roads have been repaired and we do not anticipate any damage to interfere with the ride.

Basecamp at the fairgrounds is within the city limits so there is easy and close access to fuel, grocery stores, feed stores, restaurants and hotels. Large rigs are welcome as there is plenty of room for parking. Cell phone coverage is generally good at the fairgrounds, and there is a landline available during the day in the fairgrounds office.

A major attraction of this base camp is real flush toilets along with hot showers! There are some electrical outlets (bring an extension cord) and some faucets for running water (bring a hose). For night-time vetting and meetings, the fairgrounds is well lit.

For those of you who would like hook-ups and will not be camping with your horse, there is an RV park adjacent to the fairgrounds. It is less than a five-minute walk from the RV park to the check-in and vetting area, and about a five- to 10-minute walk to the horse camping area. Reservations should be made directly with the RV park.

There are a limited number of pens to rent for your horse at the fairgrounds on a first-reserved basis. Reserve your pen with your ride entry, not with the fairgrounds.

Each ride entry includes three days of camping. You are welcome to arrive early and stay after the ride and the additional camping fee can be noted on your entry.

Fall weather in Ridgecrest is generally nice, with much cooler temperatures than the summer months and less wind than the springtime. Average daytime temperatures are in the mid-70s with nighttime temperatures in the mid-40s with very little chance of rain.

For a fun aerial tour of the basecamp, check out the ride website,, under the Location Info tab.

We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event!

Helpful links:

Ride website:
Desert Empire Fairgrounds website:
RV Park website:
Ride facebook page:

August 2019 Classified Advertising



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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.