American Endurance Ride Conference
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MIDYEAR MEETING
San Antonio, Texas
August 27, 2005
The meeting was called to order by President Stagg Newman at 7:54 a.m. Also present for the meeting: Vice President Mike Maul, Vonita Bowers, Connie Caudill, Jan Stevens, Howard Kent, Stan Eichelberger, Terry Woolley Howe, John Parke, Susan Kasemeyer, Duane Barnett, Roger Taylor, Nick Warhol, Barney Fleming, Jerry Fruth, Laura Hayes, Robert Ribley, Dinah Rojek, Roberta Harms Mike Jaffe, Randy Eiland, Mike Tomlinson, Gail Williams, and Executive Director Kathleen A. Henkel. Absent – Secretary Jan Jeffers, Treasurer Patti Pizzo, and Bob Morris. Members Melissa Ribley, Sue Taylor, and Sue Phillips also attended.
It was moved by Roger Taylor and seconded by Mike Maul to excuse Bob Morris from this meeting due to travel complications. Motion passed.
It was moved by Terry Woolley Howe and seconded by Mike Maul to excuse Treasurer Pizzo from this meeting due to a family commitment. Motion passed.
It was moved by Jerry Fruth and seconded by Dinah Rojek to excuse Jan Jeffers from this meeting for medical reasons. Motion passed with Terry Woolley Howe and Randy Eiland abstaining.
It was discussed that some board members have missed more than one meeting and members of the board should keep in mind their commitment is a 2-year term and if they are not available to meet the commitment they should consider resigning from the board.
AERC’s mission and vision statements were discussed. The Board agreed on the following:
A Power Point presentation was made by Sue Taylor, member of the Finance Committee, concerning financial information. The Power Point presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
John Parke led a workshop on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing AERC pertaining to long-term planning for AERC.
Robert Ribley, Convention Committee chair, presented his written report (appears under Committee Reports at the end of these minutes) and further reported the committee met prior to the Board Meeting and is making every effort to obtain high-profile seminar speakers for the convention, while being mindful of the budget.
Randy Eiland, Sponsorship Committee chair, advised he feels it is necessary for AERC to hire a professional to obtain sponsors for AERC. Randy is currently working with a sponsor and hopes to bring the board information regarding the signing in the near future.
Duane Barnett, Co-Chair with Gail Williams on the Competitions Committee, advised additional information is needed from the membership regarding the star proposal. This proposal will work with the current medallion proposal and involves additional recognition for individuals completing 100-mile rides.
President Newman asked the Competitions Committee to carefully review the 100-mile rides and interest in same by the membership.
Stan Eichelberger, Chair, Drug Testing Committee, advised he contacted Dalare Laboratories, the lab currently handling drug testing for AERC, and discussed the costs associated with the testing. Stan advised shipping will now cost $45 per ride, quite a savings from the current charges that can run as high as $75 per ride. Stan asked the office to purchase some banners for ride management to display at their rides, banners to read: “This ride has been drug-tested by AERC”.
A Power Point presentation was made by Dinah Rojek, Co-Chair of the Education Committee, outlining the committee’s goals into the future pertaining a possible online chatroom, mentors, clinics, etc. The Power Point presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
Roger Taylor, chair of the Insurance Committee, advised the committee proposes AERC renew with Equisure, Inc. for the 2006 ride season. Many sanctions for the new season have already been received by the office and in order to keep the rides covered the committee would like to sign the contract for the 2006 season as soon as possible. Renewal premium cost will be approximately 10% more than last year’s cost.
Mike Tomlinson presented the International Committee report as written July 28, 2005, by Chair Kathy Brunjes. Education on the workings of the International Committee and interaction with all AERC members is a major goal of the committee. A copy of the report appears under Committee Reports, below.
Jan Stevens, Chair, Junior Committee, presented her report, a copy of which appears under Committee Reports, below.
Terry Woolley Howe, Chair, Limited Distance Committee, advised the committee is reworking their charter and will present the rework at a future meeting.
Motion presented from the Limited Distance Committee: “Change the policy currently in effect so that the riding times of competitors in limited distance rides be published in Endurance News and on the AERC website, effective as soon as the computer work is completed.” John Parke amended the motion as follows: Results shall be published showing that the order of finish is the order of recovery with respect to limited distance rides.” The amendment was accepted by Terry as Chair of the Committee. Mike Tomlinson asked for a roll call vote regarding the motion. Robert Ribley-No; Nick Warhol-No; Howard Kent-No; Gail Williams-Yes; Duane Barnett-Yes; Dinah Rojek-Yes; Susan Kasemeyer-Yes; mike Tomlinson-Yes; Jan Stevens-Yes; Roberta Harms-Yes; Connie Caudill-Yes; Laura Hayes-Yes; Vonita Bowers-Yes; Roger Taylor-yes; Barney Fleming-No; Mike Jaffe-Yes; Jerry Fruth-Yes; Stan Eichelberger-Yes; Terry Woolley Howe-Yes; Randy Eiland-Yes; Mike Maul-Yes; John Parke-Yes. 4-No and 18 Yes. Motion passes.
Nick Warhol presented a Power Point view regarding the Membership/Media/Marketing Committees. The Power Point presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
Robert Ribley, Chair, National Championship Committee, advised things are progressing with respect to the 2006 ride site. The committee continues to seek sites for future years.
John Parke, Chair, Protest and Grievance Committee, reported the status of current protests before the committee.
Connie Caudill, Chair, Ride Managers Committee, referred the board to her written report, located within these minutes, and advised further the
committee is working with the office in an effort to obtain all day member contact information from ride managers by instituting a “check list” to
aid ride managers in returning all necessary paperwork to the office with ride results.
Vonita Bowers, Chair, Rules Committee, no report.
Mike Maul, Chair, Technical Committee, provided the board with a written report, located within these minutes, below, including the committee charter.
Jerry Fruth, Chair, Trails Advocacy Committee, gave the board an overview of the very successful Mountain Region Flaming Gorge ride held in Rock Springs, WY, 8/20-21/05, with Mo Selzler as ride manager. The BLM was heavily involved with this ride, providing all the water tanks and keeping them filled for the duration of the ride. A 6-year permit was provided by the BLM to hold the ride in the future and enough land is available at this site for a 5-day ride and this will be considered in the future.
Roger Taylor, member, Trails Grants Committee, presented a PowerPoint presentation that is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
Laura Hayes, Chair, Welfare of the Horse Committee, advised the committee is very active, holding monthly conference calls, and the committee works in partnership with the Veterinary Committee.
Melissa Ribley, Chair, Veterinary Committee, referred the board to her written report, located below, within these minutes. Melissa advised the committee is a good knowledgeable group and is very willing to participate in discussions, whether via email or teleconference. The committee is working on many things, among them, reworking some items in the veterinary handbook.
Meeting adjourned for the evening, 6:00 p.m.
Kathleen A. Henkel, in the absence of Secretary Jan Jeffers
Presented by Robert Ribley, Chair
A. The convention committee shall work with the AERC office in planning current and future annual AERC conventions.
II. Summary of 2005 work
A. Obtaining speakers for 2006 convention.
1. Jim Mitchell on the use of GPS in endurance riding
2. Dr. Ball on preventing equine leg injuries
3. Paul Zeck on trailer maintenance
4. Bob and Julie Suhr on history of AERC
B. Writing monthly articles in Endurance News to increase interest in 2006 convention.
C. Contacting local area vendors
D. Pre-scheduling for committee meetings to assist in attendance by both committee members and the general membership.
E. Obtaining bids for convention site in Reno for February, 2008.
F. Reviewing convention revenue summaries for the past seven years.
III. Objectives for 2006 and longer
A. Choose 2009 convention site.
B. Provide budgets for 2007 and future conventions that will increase revenues. This can be done by a combination of marketing for both attendees and vendors and being conservative on optional expenses.
Presented by Kathy Brunjes, Chair
Mission Statement (from AERC):
“The International Committee of the American Endurance Ride Conference shall promote excellence in the sport of International endurance riding through education, participation, promotion, facilitation and support of the United States effort. The AERC International Committee will represent and act for the American Endurance Ride Conference in all matters pertaining to international equestrian endurance riding. The Committee shall perform its duties in accordance with the AERC By-laws, policies and directives.”
Summary of Committee activities, January 1, 2005 – July 25, 2005:
1. AERC National Convention planning: how to make ourselves more visible and promote interest in the AERC-I booth. Merchandise was updated with more generic USA-Endurance logo. Two mini-courses were selected to be given by AERC-I members at Convention: “riding your first 100” and “how to fill out a horse passport.”
2. Committee submitted nominations to the USEF High Performance Committee for National Selectors’ Chair and National Chef d’Equipe. At Convention, National Chef d’Equipe was selected by USEF Committees (Tom Johnson selected); Linda Strelnik was named to continue as National Selectors’ Chair.
3. Committee solicited bids for the 2007 PAC and 2006 Pre-ride. To date, Manitoba is submitted a bid to FEI to host the 2007 PAC.
4. AERC-I procedures were revised and distributed to members by (and at) Convention.
5. AERC-I discussion list was revamped. Links to USEF/FEI websites were reviewed and revised and added to the AERC-I links on the AERC webpage. Committee worked with Mike Maul to facilitate these functions.
6. AERC-I Chair changed following Convention. New AERC-I Recording Secretary was appointed following Convention. Zone Reps were asked to conduct question-and-answer sessions at dual-sanctioned rides to help alleviate anxiety of non-FEI riders. Schedule of AERC-I members attending dual-sanctioned rides provided to EN.
7. Committee addressed questions raised by Board re: $10 membership fee and better communication of Committee activities. Meeting agenda changed to incorporate more formal reporting of various activities within the Committee.
8. Monthly articles to Endurance News incorporated both educational and informational topics; highlighting the April PanAms in Argentina, AERC-I member profiles, interpretation of FEI rules or impending changes and course description for 2006 WEG (including the pre-ride summary as presented by the National Chef d’Equipe). A more personal approach was sought in the articles provided to EN.
9. Committee discussed ways in which to identify International members in the directory, as well as recruiting new members during the annual AERC membership renewal period. Suggestions for placing an “I” after names in the directory, having a checkbox on the membership form to indicate desire for electronic newsletter, a welcome letter to members who join and/or renew, and AERC-I decal given to members with membership cards were all discussed. The Committee agreed to assemble a membership packet; Kathy to work with AERC office to facilitate this.
10. WEG selection procedures were issued and AERC-I worked with Mike Maul to get notice on the AERC website for finding the online procedures.
11. AERC-I asked input from the AERC Veterinary Committee on an issue an AERC member brought to the Committee for discussion (GastroGuard).
12. AERC-I contributed $1,500 in sponsorship to the OC of the NAEC.
13. Committee responded to an AERC member’s concerns re: 2005 WEC winner and positive substance finding.
14. Committee worked with ride managers of dual-sanctioned rides to help make them seamless to non-FEI riders entered in the events, specifically citing the AERC National Championship ride (Ft. Howes) as an example of good communication and education prior to the event.
15. Committee is working with OC of the NAEC, helping provide information to the AERC membership on details of the event.
16. 2006 proposed Committee budget submitted to AERC Treasurer.
17. Zones reports initiated in the monthly conference call meetings to help open communication lines within the Committee.
Final Summary: The Committee is committed to keeping lines of communication open with both the BoD and the general membership. Education of International events and rules/regulations has been a priority for the AERC-I Committee members. The Committee is eager to go forward with their proposed 2006 Goals, keeping both the general membership and AERC-I members in the forefront of their endeavors.
2006 Committee Objectives/Goals:
1. Market AERC-I Committee membership; make Committee more visible and approachable to general AERC membership
a. provide packet of information to renewing and new AERC-I members
b. letter of welcome from AERC-I Chair, AERC-I procedure booklet, decal and list of Committee contacts to be provided to AERC Office, to be used during 2006 membership drive
a. monthly educational articles in Endurance News
b. establish a Q&A segment at the end of monthly EN International column, giving AERC-I committee member name for contact
c. re-institute International newsletter in electronic format – issue newsletters following FEI competitions, FEI news reports or International events of interest; bringing knowledge from other countries pertaining to the safety and welfare of the horse
d. establish scheduled International educational programs/sessions for the AERC Convention, work with AERC Office and Convention Committee to accomplish this:
i. passport application and completion of horse description
ii. how to get to the International level of riding
iii. riding off-continent
iv. shipping horses cross-country/overseas
Presented by Jan Stevens, Chair
The Junior Commiuttee reports the following projects for this year:
1.Creation of a new Junior brochure aimed at bringing more junior riders into the sport. Brochures will be sent out with general inquires that come into the office with the addition of sending notices to the US Pony Clubs and 4-H.
2. Creating an article to publish in various horse magazines aimed at children.
3. Promoting 100-mile participation by junior riders.
4. Sending out a questionnaire for junior riders to see what they would like to see from AERC.
5. Expanding participation by junior riders at the convention and providing them with activities aimed at junior riders.
Presented by Connie Caudill, Chair
The Ride Managers Committee has had some great discussions during the first half of the year. In one of the discussions we have concluded that a lot ride managers are not aware that they need the contact information for day members (Non AERC Members). So in trying to get the word to ride managers we are suggesting a few changes to take place in the ride managers ride packets that are sent out from the office.
1. In the RM packet include a printed checklist on brightly colored paper listing everything that must be returned to AERC with your ride results.
2. Paste a bright colored reminder sticker on the outside of the envelope about collecting and returning day members information.
3. The RM Committee will write an article in EN explaining what needs to be sent back to the office highlighting the Day Member information first.
4. If the office doesn't receive this information, the office would give the ride manager a friendly reminder call.
5. Have a separate sheet of paper in the ride managers packet that is to be filled out by the day members at the of time of registration.
Other subject that we will have been discussing and continue on are:
A. Water proof Vet (rider) Cards. Should AERC be able to provide ride managers with a low cost or shared cost card?
B. Do we need a protocol for not sanctioning a ride or a way to let ride managers know if there are concerns about their ride?
C. Ride cost
D. What constitutes "just cause" for entry denial by RM.
E. The Medallion program (Angie's) for 100 mile rides. While we decided to leave its presentation to the BOD in the hands of the Competition Committee, we supportive of this or a similar program (part of discussion on encouraging 100 mile entrants).
F. Article subjects for the ride managers forum in Endurance News.
Presented by Mike Maul, Chair
Charter: The Technical Committee will provide
recommendations for consideration by the National Office and
Board of Directors on matters of software/hardware purchase,
operation, support and specification. The committee will
initiate and approve purchases from the budget provided by
the Board of Directors for the procurement of AERC Office
equipment that will support the office and operations of the
In addition, the Technical Committee shall advise the
National Office and the Board in computer selection and use,
office operation support, member online use and support, and
in the development of new software and changes in existing
software. The Technical Committee shall review and recommend
to the Board of Directors any requests for the analysis of
pertinent AERC data by the membership
The Technical Committee consists of a Chairperson with
appropriate experience, appointed by the President, and
committee members selected at the discretion of the
Chairperson from the membership of AERC.
The Committee shall report at least quarterly on anticipated
technical matters add needs for the future.
Link half Arabian Registry pedigrees to AERC horse history
Update old rides editor
Review of backup procedures for the office
Searchable archives of keyword articles from past EN
Access to AERC data that can be used by members for statistical studies
Registration/list of s/w on all office workstations
Upgraded the EN Mac for publishing and added new software
Added secure link for credit card transactions for renewal and equine registration
Supported Education, International, and Trails Committee webpages
Support technical/web needs of the committees per budget below
Complete Disaster recovery plan for office
2006 budget request to accomplish proceeding
Technical Committee Budget Request for 2006
Request Summary: Total cost of $2,500 for work supporting Ride Managers, members, and office. Most work is online with some directly in the office.
Description: Online application to enter ride results after a ride with member/horse lookup based on AERC #. All forms necessary for reporting ride will be automatically transferred to the office where approval by the office will insert the results into the system. Fees will be paid by credit card using the application using a secure link.
Requested by: Ride Managers Committee
Cost: $800 - split between Technical Committee(TC) and the Ride Managers Committee. TC amount $400.
Effect on Office: No additional effort by office. Will reduce present office work by allowing automatic input of results
Effect on members: Ride results online sooner for viewing.
In place by: Feb. 2006
Description: Support for member access to the AERC database for studies. Estimated as we do not yet know how much access will be requested or additions needed.
Requested by: Technical Committee
Effect on Office: No additional effort by office.
Effect on members: Better use of the database for studies
In place by: As needed in 2006
Description: Mapping application for member, ride manager, and sanctioning director use supporting ride sanctioning and the ride calendar. Members will be able view all rides within a chosen distance of their home on a map of their area with distance and time of ride.
Ride managers and sanctioning directors will be able to see distances between potential sanctioned rides to all other sanctioned rides to better manage timing and distance spacing.
Requested by: First part - AERC members survey. Second part - suggested by TC and supported by Ride Managers Committee.
Cost: $600 - split between Technical Committee(TC) and the Ride Managers Committee. TC amount $300.
Effect on Office: No additional effort by office.
Effect on members: Better calendar use and ride planning. Less error in sanctioning rides too close together.
In place by: April 2006
Description: Online support for the Trails Committee in keeping records for volunteer work on BLM/FS projects in terms of hours worked, what done, where, who by etc.
Requested by: Trails Committee but not yet finalized.
Effect on Office: No office support needed
Effect on members: Primary effect is to use with BLM/FS so no direct effect on members
In place by: 3 months after application specifications done working with the Trails committee.
Description: Bug fixes/support that normally occur in the online doublejoy applications like calendar,history, etc.
Requested by: Technical Committee
Effect on Office: Office input needed when they find problems.
Effect on members: Continued easy use of the doublejoy services
In place by: As needed
Presented by Melissa Ribley, Chair
The AERC veterinary committee acts as an advisory board to the AERC
board of directors on veterinary matters within the sport of
endurance riding. The veterinary committee provides education and advice to
AERC veterinarians, ride managers and riders. Additionally, there exists a
subcommittee, the drug testing committee.
II. Summary of 2005 work
A. Written monthly articles for Endurance News Vet Forum.
B. Responded to AERC ride managers and riders questions and concerns.
C. Reviewed articles submitted to Endurance News that are veterinary related.
D. Working with a national veterinary conference program director to obtain a sponsor for and develop a presentation on educating veterinarians nationally about endurance riding.
E. Currently reviewing and updating the AERC Veterinary Handbook.
F. Currently reviewing the drug rule.
G. Reviewed as needed research grants.
H. Currently reviewing post ride statistical form.
I. Submitted fatality reports to the board of directors.
J. Arranging the veterinary CE for the 2006 AERC convention.
III. Objectives for 2006 and longer term goals
A. Complete any necessary modifications to the current AERC drug rule.
B. Modify the process by which the veterinary committee is formed which is dictated in the bylaws as election.
C. Work with the veterinary schools and national veterinary conferences to provide education to students and veterinarians on endurance riding.
D. Obtain veterinary legal council for guidance on documentation and release of treatment records at AERC rides and licensing requirements for veterinarians working at rides.
E. Consult with the insurance committee on possibilities of incorporating veterinary liability insurance with the provided ride insurance.
Equine Fatality Investigating and Reporting
AERC Veterinary Committee
The AERC veterinary committee considers the Ft. Stanton equine fatality to be a non-reportable AERC equine fatality because the equine was not entered in an AERC sanctioned event. It is this committees understanding that equine deaths occurring as a result of participating in an AERC sanctioned ride are to be investigated and reported. Merely being at or in the vicinity of an AERC ride does not infer the death occurred as a result of participating in the ride and should not be statistically considered as an endurance ride caused event. Many AERC rides take place on public lands where equines other than those participating in the event are present and may sustain fatal injuries. These are not considered to be a result of, or involved with, an AERC sanctioned ride.
Rule 13.1 defines the time of competition to be starting at the time of the pre-ride veterinary exam. Therefore, any unusual veterinary events or fatalities from that time on shall be considered by this committee to be reportable events and will be investigated.
If the statistics of percentage of horse deaths in horses participating at AERC rides are to be accurate, we need to be accurate and consistent on what we are defining as AERC related horse deaths. Otherwise, the statistics are meaningless and not useful.
The veterinary committee does not define this event as a reportable AERC equine fatality and therefore no further investigation will be done by this committee. We do recognize, however, that the first hand information provided by the head veterinarian of this ride on the circumstances surrounding the event will help diffuse misinformation about the event from being circulated and communication of this type from the ride veterinarian to AERC is to be encouraged.
Submitted by the AERC Veterinary Committee
American Endurance Ride Conference
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MIDYEAR MEETING
San Antonio, Texas
August 28, 2005
Vice President Mike Maul called the meeting to order at 7:30 a.m. as President Newman handled a telephone call. Also present for the meeting: Randy Eiland, Terry Woolley Howe, Stan Eichelberger, Jerry Fruth, Mike Jaffe, Barney Fleming, Roger Taylor, Vonita Bowers, Laura Hayes, Connie Caudill, Roberta Harms, Jan Stevens, Mike Tomlinson, Susan Kasemeyer, Dinah Rojek, Duane Barnett, Gail Williams, Howard Kent, Nick Warhol, Robert Ribley, and Executive Director Kathleen A. Henkel. Members Melissa Ribley, Sue Taylor, and Sue Phillips also attended. Absent: Treasurer Patti Pizzo and Secretary Jan Jeffers.
Roger Taylor gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding the Trails Masters courses offered by AERC. The presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
John Parke, Chair, Legal Committee, led the board in a discussion of the current Rule 13, asking the question, “Should the rule be revised?”. Rule 13 currently reads, “The integrity of Endurance Competition requires that the equine is not influenced by any drug, medication or veterinary treatment. Endurance equines must compete entirely on their natural ability. AERC prohibits from competition equines who contain evidence of the administration of abnormal substances or of normal substances in abnormal amounts (exogenously administered compounds even if normally found endogenously).” Discussion regarding the reworking of this rule is a work in progress involving several committees and will be reported on during a future meeting.
Research Grants Committee Chair Bob Morris’ written report is located below under the committee reports heading.
Vonita Bowers, Sanctioning Committee Chair, advised the board the Hoosier Daddy ride requires board approval as it is its first year as a pioneer ride. Ride to take place within the MW Region, Kenneth Keesee as ride manager, June 16, 17, and 18, 2006, a 25 and 55 miler each day. Motion presented from committee to approve the Hoosier Daddy ride as a pioneer ride for the 2006 season. Motion passed.
Mike Maul gave a PowerPoint presentation regarding Office Excellence and the steps being taken to ease operations in the office for the staff. The presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
Nick Warhol, Chair, Membership, Media & Marketing Committee, gave a PowerPoint presentation on growth within AERC. The presentation is appended to the original minutes housed in the AERC Office.
John Parke gave a presentation regarding planned giving and related that programs can be set up and developed by the board. President Newman advised he wants to move forward with a planned giving campaign.
President Newman led the discussion relative to AERC’s finances. A motion presented by the Finance Committee regarding Research Grants funding is as follows:
It is moved that the Board of Directors establish a reserve for research grants with the initial funding of $45,000 which was previously approved by the board for FY2004. For the next operating year (FY2005) and every year to follow, the amount of $50,000 or 25% of profit from two years prior to the current year, (i.e., FY 2003 for FY 2005, FY 2004 for FY2006), whichever is less, shall be budgeted to the Reserve for Research Grants. Such amounts are cumulative from year to year and such appropriation will not cause the reserve, less any existing obligations, to exceed $75,000. No specific grants will be awarded until the Board has voted on the individual proposal.
John Parke moved to defer the motion regarding research grants funding. Roger Taylor seconded. Motion passed.
John Parke moved to amend the budget to add $45,000 to the budget for research grants. No second. President Newman advised he will discuss with the Finance Committee about including monies for research in the budget and he plans a conference call with Treasurer Pizzo, Sue Taylor and Kathleen in the near future.
Mike Tomlinson moved and it was seconded to approve Dane Frazier as AERC International’s representative to FEI. Motion passed.
President Newman thanked everyone for attending the midyear meeting. Work will continue on AERC’s finances.
It was moved by Stan Eichelberger and seconded by Laura Hayes to adjourn. Motion passed. Meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
Kathleen A. Henkel, in the absence of Secretary Jan Jeffers
Presented by Bob Morris, Chair
RESEARCH IN THE FUTURE OF AERC
The AERC Research Grants Committee has in place as of this date four research projects:
1. Why Do Endurance Horses Fail to Finish: A Pilot Study
2. Can successful endurance performance be predicted by physiology?
3. Are horses responsible for invasive plants in the eastern United States
4. Do risks of potassium supplementation depend on speed?
These projects have established the AERC as an organization interested in research related to the welfare of the equines competing in endurance competition and in establishing the conditions associated with the conduct of this sport.
But what of the future? Where are we headed in the research field and how will we get there? A few matters associated with such research should be established in order to formulate a concept of where we want to go.
An understanding of these points is essential. The AERC made its first research grant in 2003. Since that time we have made an additional three grants. These grants were to investigators who were familiar with endurance competition and the AERC. We are still having some difficulty in establishing our credentials outside the immediate endurance community.
Much equine research is associated with commercial ventures even though being conducted by academic entities. These commercial ventures expect a fair return on their investment in the form of a product to sell. The academic entity reaps the publicity attached to a successful product on the market and in publication of the study in professional journals. We, in endurance can make no such offer. We, in endurance, require the subject to be associated with our sport and couched in terms that we, as lay persons, can readily understand.
The AERC does not have the seemingly endless funding associated with a commercial project. The AERC Research Grants Committee is funded by a percentage of the excess cash flow generated each fiscal year. 2005 brought us $24,735 which has been committed to projects. For the future years, in 2006 we will have $13,050. In 2007, according to the projected balance sheet for FY 2005 that shows a deficit, we will receive no funds for research. This serious matter could be some what alleviated by the release of accumulated excess drug testing funds to the research program as was originally intended. This would be an infusion of approximately $32,000.
We are always questions, “What do we want to research”. In the latest poll of our membership, as shown by the answers to the 2005 questionnaire, our membership was interested in:
I believe that we have our directions and our current programs do comply with some of these indications. These are all practical applications and our current projects are all on the practical side. These are not fields graduate students and researchers are fond of exploring. The rewards are minimal, other than a thesis subject. They are labor intensive and subject intensive. They require the access to a fairly large field of participants, and in endurance related research that usually includes not only the animals but the owner/riders as well.
With that back ground; on to the future of AERC Research.
Recently there has been much discussion regarding the AERC Rule #13. We know the inter-relationship of the more powerful drugs and how they affect the competitive endurance equine. We are, however, becoming more concerned with those substances the layman does not generally associate with the term “drug”. Those substances perceived as support for the “welfare of the horse”, joint medications, mood altering substances, digestive tract ameliorative and the like. Natural derivatives or homeopathic treatments also fall into this category.
Research in the use and effects of these substances is virtually limited to non-scientific, anecdotal reports. The controlled research available is often not directed towards the conditions met in endurance competition nor in the animal husbandry promoted by endurance competitors.
This leads us to a field of almost virgin research where our funds could open wide doors currently hidden. There are other fields of concern as expressed in the list generated by the membership. Very little work has been done on endurance horses related to lameness. Of course I can expect a loud disclaimer to that statement but it is a fact. Yes, research in race horses, show horses and performance horses, but endurance equines are completely different. We need to find researchers and participants, willing to take the laboratory into the field, a place where the variables exist. The tread mill and the arena cannot approximate the field. But who is going to be willing to commit their horses to such a program? A university cannot afford to field a string of horses and riders. If such research is to be done, the AERC membership must be willing to be the participants. It is to be cautioned, the returns on such a project will be minimal for the rider/owner.
Another very important bit of research I would like to see expanded is our current program concerning the equine/noxious weed inter-relationship. Our current program is limited to the Northeastern United States. I would envision the AERC funding research grants in each of the major geographical areas where competition takes place. In this manner, we will be ahead of the governmental agencies and we will be able to demand a place at the table during trails and trailhead discussions. Not the esoteric research like drugs but just as important.
Research in the field of equine nutrition has received a fair amount of attention, BUT! The attention has been directed towards the production of commercial feed stuffs and not necessarily on the affects of the feed. Yes, we can get all the expert advice on how to get the energy from the bag into the horse, what supplements are needed and on and on. But, and here there is no commercial reward, what are these feeds doing to the horse in competition? What are the regional differences associated with these feeds? Since these feed substances are not “natural” to the equine, what is the ultimate result of long term use on the competing animal?
Questions, questions, questions, but very few substantive answers. And be assured, each answer produced by a research project will, with out a doubt, formulate additional questions.
To summarize; There are many possible research fields we need to approach. We are only limited by the practicability of our desired for knowledge, the willingness of the membership to make some sacrifice and participate, and financing of the projects.