September 14 2007, Article # 10407
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The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) will investigate the deaths of the two horses that were hit by a car after crossing the finish line on day seven of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Ride, said AERC President Mike Maul. The investigation will be conducted independently of the insurance investigation into the incident.
Rider Teresa Wilcox suffered bruises and scrapes. Rider Sandy Olson suffered a dislocated hip and broken thumb. Both riders were released from the hospital and returned to the ride site.
"This is a terrible thing that has happened," said Maul. "My heart goes out to the riders who were injured. I am so glad to hear that they are back at the ride site."
"An incident such as this during the ride or at the finish has never happened before in the 35-year history of AERC," said Maul. "All incidents, whether large or small, are investigated by the AERC with the purpose of making the sport safer for both riders and the horses participating in the event."
According to Maul, the AERC sanctions almost 800 rides in the United States each year, with more than 23,000 total entries.
"AERC sanctioning provides a uniform standard for those rides, which are put on by members of the AERC as ride managers," said Maul. "The ride itself is supervised by the ride manager and is not under the supervision of the AERC."
The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race is an 800-mile endurance ride completed over a 13-day period. The ride started in Santa Fe, N.M., on Sept. 3 and will end in Missouri on Sept. 15. One of the main objectives of the race is to educate the public not only on the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands, said Maul.