In Response

To the Newbies and Potential Newbies!  Please don’t be deterred!  Come out and ride!  If you followed the discussion on North America Endurance Green Beans, the conversation took a constructive vein for the most part (yay!)  And if you followed the one on AERC…well…that’s life.  Change is hard and scary.  Don’t let the few keep you from this amazing sport.

Not every ride will suit every rider.  The terrain and the associated challenges are totally different.  A 50 mile ride in sand on flat ground in Florida is always going to different than mountains and desert. The diversity of this sport is part of what makes it so unique and amazing.

On the Duck Rides

  • I have no horse welfare concerns. These rides are in beautiful places.  There is a lot of work that goes into them and it is a foundation stone of American Endurance Riding. And there is a lot right.    I love that GPS tracks are available (now that’s a lot of work!).   Heck, if I’m not banned, I’d still attend these rides.  If I need my hand held, at least now I know who NOT to ask.
  • I don’t think any of that makes them exempt from the rules if a sanction is to be granted.

2.1.4 Each equine will receive a substantive physical examination of metabolic and mechanical parameters before the ride,at control points within the ride and after the ride. All AERC sanctioned rides must use an AERC approved rider card for the control judge(s) to record the results of their examinations

Why didn’t I (or don’t I) file a formal complaint?  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the rides.  I am totally on board with, as one person put it, ‘ navigation/survival’.  I think the problem lies with the AERC and the attitude.  I also didn’t have any confidence a closed door conversation would be effective based on

  • Did I vet in?  No.  Did I get mentors?  Yes.  Did we all go attempt to vet it on Friday?  Yes.  Was anyone around?  No.  Is this typical.  No.  And I’m not saying there wasn’t a check, just that no one was around when we went to try (a few times).  Was I concerned for my horses welfare because of this?  No.  These rides clearly state you need to be self sufficient and responsible for your own horses welfare.  I had no doubts my horse was fine.  And no doubt the 12 checkpoints on the official (but required) vet card don’t take the place of experience and a good vet can certainly tell at a glance if there’s something truly wrong.  The experienced people I was with didn’t seem concerned about starting anyway so I went with it.

On Hazing and Being New

I’m thick skinned.  I’m not offended if high milers want to say LD riders aren’t doing real endurance.  In fact, I’m not offended by much of anything.

But I see and hear things.  And some of those things make me sad.  Some of the stories I received yesterday of people who are ‘taking a break’ or who have left the sport soon after joining make me sad. 

The conversation on the AERC group on facebook actually makes my point better than I did.

“Before you go pointing fingers at an organization and others within the sport, in a public forum; please make sure your own actions and behaviors at rides are above reproach. Or at the very least at a socially acceptable level….you shouldn’t violate rules and then call others out publicly for it. You won’t find me casting that first stone, but I’ll definitely catch it and toss it back!”

“She has not gone to many rides check her ride record and by her own account her experience is limited”

“I would encourage newbies to check ride records on the individuals making comments before drawing conclusions!”

“I think your in the wrong sport…. Like I said maybe those rides aren’t for you. Those rides are an adventure”

“..get over it. 25 miles is a training ride, not endurance.   I am perfectly aware of what LD vs endurance is. I have done both. Although I have have done LD, I still do not consider it true endurance. It is perplexing that a new person would be so critical of a sport that she is not acquainted with…”

There was some mention and many insinuations that I’ve somehow not paid my dues.  What are these dues I apparently didn’t pay?  I paid my AERC membership and ride entries.  If it’s sweat and time shoveling, I spent my childhood riding my bike to the farm and doing any and all work for the chance to ride.  More recently, I wake up before work, go to the barn, work, go to the barn….so basically Eat Sleep Ride Repeat but with the addition of Work Full Time & Do All That Other Adulting Stuff.  Am I implying you don’t do those things?  Or that huge amounts of volunteered time from very busy people goes into rides?  Nope.  Just wondering which dues it is I’ve missed.

Am I going to quit and go home to cry?  Not likely (unless I’m banned from the AERC entirely for choosing to publicly share my experience and opinion without the magical prerequisite number of AERC miles that would bestow upon me the right to an opinion).

Am I going to get more involved and do I want to see (and contribute to) positive change and growth in the sport?  Definitely.

Stay tuned for the next article on some of the ideas ESRR has for improvement as well as some of the great ideas already in place around the country.

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4 thoughts on “In Response”

  1. Newbies have a lot to offer from a membership standpoint! If AERC wants new members, ask the newbies for feedback. What can we do to better improve the experience of a new member so that 1) they want to return and 2) they want to bring their friends? Their opinion is not invalidated by their limited miles or rides attempted. Fresh eyes can see things we have long been ignoring and accepting because its norm.

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  2. Newby or not, High Mileage or not, 25 or 50+, it really doesn’t matter.
    If you see a problem, which you have, it should be addressed without
    such comments you shared above in your article.

    One reason I actually did go forward with a “formal protest” is due to all the riders who contacted me privately and told me their personal story. All these stories were from the same XP rides that r I had my experience with (actually the vet) as I too couldn’t get the vet to check my horse.

    But nobody would believe me- I was called a liar.
    I spoke to Bruce Weary (who at the time was a BOARD member on the AERC,) immediately after the incident happened, telling him the vet refused to check my horse (I asked 3 times).

    In the end, the AERC ruled that I “didn’t seek a higher authority.”

    I’m not sure how much “higher”, or how much quicker i could have sought a “higher authority” to my issue- along with the fact that all riders were made to sign a contract stating “I will not bitch and complain… if I don’t like it I will leave… the management doesn’t care. . .they just want to have fun. . .” (these are literally the words on the contract all riders are made to sign.)

    Yep, I found that the AERC was actually the worst problem as they allowed this particular ride manager (the Ducks wife Anne) to ignore the “standardized” rules part of AERC. Instead, I was made to be the hostile one- I was lied about even though I didn’t argue or yell- as Lisa Snyder (also a Board member of the AERC- who wasn’t even present during the incident) said in the formal protest- and the vet himself contradicted her lies about me when he stated “she did not yell or scream” If the AERC actually looks at the facts, instead of trying to cover for those who make profits for them (even though I did pay my entry fee and membership fee) but the Duck rides bring in more money to them than I do) they’d have a more ethical NON PROFIT gig.

    I actually don’t think it’s legal for any Non Profit to ban someone unless you have posed some type of danger to others. You should look that one up as they could lose their non profit status.

    More people need to band together and make the AERC uphold it’s own rules.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Stacy. We were seeing the exact same response you described from the higher ups, which was a large reason Rose came forward publicly and the rest of our team supported her (and still do!) because we were getting nowhere through the standard channels. The good news is that while we, Rose in particular, are being vilified for this story, there are a few higher ups who are recognizing the stir this has created and have approached us to have a proper conversation. Hope is not lost!

      The very fact that everyone knew exactly what ride(s) Rose was speaking of without her actually stating it anywhere (in the original post), proves that the ride is not following AERC standards, everyone knows it, and they either don’t care enough to speak up, are part of the clique that are lashing back at us, or have had the same experience Rose did and have been beaten to submission (we received a lot of PMs with similar stories).

      We mean it when we say we want to see positive change in the sport – we got a lot of wonderful messages from riders who say they have never experienced things like what Rose wrote about. We think that’s great and want to see that standard upheld across the country – as you said too… at the very minimum the AERC rules (like proper vetting and ride cards) should be enforced. Things that can improve new rider experience like better trail markings and friendly help or dedicated mentors at rides would be the cherry on top.

      Looking forward to getting more messages from people as we share some of our ideas for AERC either from our own minds, or taken from local organizations who are succeeding in welcoming new members and keeping them thereafter. We are working on our ideas blog, but its taking a little more time to put together than we had hoped… enduring hate mail and defending our position is more exhausting than just going out and riding! More to follow 🙂

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