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Monday, July 25, 2011

EN - July edition

Current AERC members get access to a really wonderful publication - the Endurance News (EN). Monthly I look forward to the magazine - Will one of my friends or someone I know be on the cover? Will I see an article written by a fellow blogger? What will I learn in the vet's column this month? Each month there is a selection of thought-provoking articles and July's edition was no exception.

As the August edition is just around the corner, it's time to drag this post out of draft status and discuss!

I am going out of state for 10 days (hiking Pikes Peak in Colorado, as well as other tourist-y activities!). I have several posts scheduled over the next week or so, so continue to check back - new posts should go up every 1-2 days.

President's Message

Connie Caudill discusses several new directions that the AERC could consider in the future. Here are my thoughts on the issues she raises:

Young riders Division
In general I am not in favor of adding yet more divisions to our sport. Our sport is small and while I was as happy as could be to receive my vest for being in the point standings in my regional division, it adds cost, complexity and waters down the overall achievements. Some of the weight divisions don't make sense to me. For example, weight. The weight of the rider is a complex issue that involves both horse build, whether the rider dismounts often, and the combined horse and rider weight. There is no clear correlation between rider weights and ride completion rates, except perhaps at the upper end. But this is a discussion on whether another age division should be added - not the weight division issue, so I'll get back on topic.

I'm OK having having a junior division. Competing in the sport under the age of 16 has different issues than competing as an adult - including needing to have a sponsor. Thus, since the rules are different than the adults, juniors should compete among themselves. So why add a young rider division? Caudill claims that by keeping members involved until age 22 (the proposed cut off for the young rider division) there is an increased chance for later participation. What evidence do we have for this? I never competed in this sport as a junior or in fact, until I turned 21 and graduated college. The main barrier for me to compete in this sport prior to 22 was not that I was head-to-head in the senior division - it was time. Money was an issue, and yes, it would be nice to have a discount for those members still paying tuition bills, but there are people who are looking for qualified people to ride their multiple horses, so there's an opportunity to do endurance "on the cheap" if money is an issue. All the award opportunities and discounts in the world wouldn't have given me what I needed to compete in college - because they couldn't have given me more time. I think those members in this "young rider age" already compete if they are able, and if they are not, establishing a separate division for them won't help. Instead, it will make the scoring, awards, points system even more complicated and expensive than it already is. I like the idea of discount for those people who are full time students/young riders - but as the junior discounted entry is up to the discretion of the ride manager, so would all those other "discounted" categories - included the proposed new division. I fail to see how establishing this new division will help AERC and endurance.

Combine endurance and LD miles
I am truly conflicted on this one. Part of me feels that it's silly to continue to hold the distinction between endurance (those miles earned in rides 50+ miles) and LDs. Should I not be given credit for the 150 or so LD miles that Farley has? We did those when we were first starting out and they were not easy miles for us at the time. True, LD completion rates are much higher than 50's, but 50 mile completion rates are even higher than 100's, which are lumped into the endurance mile category. Within endurance miles, 50s, 75s, 100's, and all sorts of pioneer miles are lumped in. All very different, all with varying rates of completion. Does it make sense to continue to have a separate division for LD's? While I think I like the idea of combining the mileage totals, I'm a little less sure when it comes to combining the two categories for overall awards - if so, I think AERC should continue to offer a top LD award, very similarly to the national 100 award as recognition to the people competing at the LD level and recognizing that they will earn less points - just as the 100 mile award recognizes that choosing to compete in 100's means that statistically you will ride fewer rides and may or may not have your accomplishments reflected in the point standings (although with the point change last year, this is less of an issue).

Completion-only rides
This is an idea that I can wholeheartedly agree with! When people ask me why I ride endurance, the first thing that pops out of my mouth is that I get to see country and trails that I would never ever get to see any other way. And it's beautiful. And wonderful. Yes, it's fun to win or get into the top 10, but at least for me, that matters very little. Every ride, I ride to complete. It's a happy coincidence if I'm in the point standings, or end up in the top 10, but those things don't even enter my mind when I'm describing why I love and ride in endurance. If having an option for completion-only rides opens up more land and trails for us to ride on, I absolutely support it. I don't want to see our competition rides go away - I enjoy the feel of competition - but it wouldn't bother me in the least to be riding for a chance at completion only.

I will be emailing Caudill with my thoughts, as she has asked for member feedback. I would love to here your thoughts in the comments and if you are a current AERC member, I encourage you to contact the AERC office or Connie Caudill with your opinions.

Posts of the Day: (do you follow me in Twitter yet @AHorseOffCourse? - get these links and more!)

Proof that eventers are just as crazy as endurance riders.... at the tbeventer blog

Someone else who loves their Kensington Bug sheets from Karen Chaton

Share your thoughts on whether a trained horse should be expected to respond a cue anytime at the Endurance Granny blog

If I missed a great post somewhere (it's OK to recommend your own blog postings), recommend in the comments.


  1. re: Young Riders
    I wholeheartedly endorse the notion of a YR division (and I would happily dispense with the weight divisions if doing so would help to pay for a YR division). Here's my reasoning:

    YR's are generally still dependent on a senior rider (or group of riders) in order to compete. Many YR's in my region are enrolled in school, are also working at least part-time, and do not necessarily own their own horse. They may be "catch riding" or have a designated mount owned by someone else. Most YR's in my region also do not have their own truck/trailer rig, and thus are doubly-dependent on somebody else in order to compete. With those restrictions alone, most YR's are "out of the money" when competing with adults. AERC has noted for years that our membership population is aging. In order to recruit and retain members (and also re-attract them later in life) I think it's important to recognize the achievements of young riders. Other equestrian disciplines already do this--and their membership shows it. We aren't talking about a huge population...but we are talking about a population that is (and will be) important to AERC in the future.

    LD/Endurance: I'm conflicted too, but in this case I'm inclined to let sleeping basilisks lie.

    Completion-only rides: I'd like to see new rides be designated as "completion only" for the first year, to give new ride managers a chance to learn the AERC ropes...but I'm not sure that creating a catagory of "completion only" events is needful. It's easy enough for a rider to screw something up during the competition and be awarded "completion only" points already, and the vast majority of us only ride for miles and not year-end awards. Seems like it's making a hoop to jump through where no hoop is needed....JMO, obviously...

  2. Aarene - the completion only ride designation was an idea to be able to gain access to designated wilderness and other land that does not allow for organized competition events. If the completion only designation was used solely in these instances, would you be in favor of it? Ca has several of these areas but I'm not sure how wide spread they are around the country.

  3. Oh, in that case: yes, absolutely. I ride for completions only anyhow, so it wouldn't change my strategy at all!


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