Thursday, January 30, 2014

The ‘Year of the Horse’ Just Might Result in a Lombardi Trophy for a Special Arabian Horse

JANUARY 24 – (AURORA, COLO.) – In the Year of the Horse, an equine, NFL mascot is making a name for himself and his Super Bowl-bound teammates. Thunder, a purebred, Arabian gelding and the beloved symbol of Broncos’ victory is not just a pretty face. Rather, he is an ambassador for the Arabian breed and a timestamp for a title and ring that is just within reach for the Mile High City.
The 2013 NFL season marked Thunder’s tenth year as the club’s mascot. With the passing of the original Thunder in 2009, Thunder II, or Winter Solstyce, and Ann can be seen at any home game galloping down the turf, marking a scoring drive from the Denver Broncos. The crowd of 76,000 goes wild as horse and rider thunder over the yard lines in a blaze of navy and orange.
While Thunder II will not be traveling to Super Bowl XLVII, his young protégé, Thunder III, a fourteen year old Arabian gelding by the registered name of Me N Myshadow, will take the place of honor. Thunder III served as mascot during the 2013 pre-season Broncos’ home games and attends most of the duo’s public appearances. His age made him the horse of choice for travel to this year’s Super Bowl. While a Thunder mascot has traveled to Super Bowls in the past, this will be Thunder III and Ann’s first trip to the championship game together.
Because this special Arabian will be the first Thunder mascot to fly to a Super Bowl game, Fed Ex will sponsor the duo’s travel. In a pressurized, cargo plane like those used for transporting Olympic horses, Thunder III will be flying in style and safety. The size of his stall, the temperature of the plane, and the overall atmosphere of the experience and flight, have all been thoughtfully considered.
“All of this has been discussed,” says Judge-Wegener, “so that when he gets to New Jersey, he is rested and ready to ride.”
His duties upon arrival have yet to be determined. However, rumor has it that Thunder (III) will lead the team out onto the field in MetLife Stadium. While he won’t be galloping the field after every Bronco’s score, he will resume his stance on the sidelines throughout the entirety of the game. Additionally, horse and rider will be making the rounds to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
While he can’t wear a ring, it is assured that Thunder will play an important role for the Denver Broncos and their fans come Super Bowl Sunday. Perhaps the Broncos will be inspired in this 2014 Year of the Horse and bring home the coveted Lombardi Trophy. ‘United They Ride,’ the city of Denver will just have to wait and see.
AHA is a major equine association serving 85,600 Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horse owners across North America. AHA registers and maintains a database of more than one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses and administers approximately $3 million in annual prize money. AHA produces championship events, recognizes over 550 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities, education, and programs that promote breeding and ownership.

Contact Information:
Arabian Horse Association
10805 East Bethany Road
Aurora, Colorado 80014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

AERC Convention Hot Topic Change


The annual AERC Convention will be held March 7-8 in Atlanta.

The subject for Saturday's A.M. Hot Topic seminar has been changed to Horse Welfare Issues -- always a hot topic. Please plan to attend Saturday from 9-10 A.M. to discuss current issues for endurance riders on horse welfare.

For more information on the convention see:

Monday, January 27, 2014

PNER Convention: THE Place to Be

January 27 2014

The Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides conference, held January 24-26 in Portland, Oregon, was a tremendous success, with more than 200 regional members attending lectures, panel discussions, the trade show, the used tack sale, the awards banquet, and the dance. Educational speakers and sessions included yoga for riders, nutrition for the performance horse, horse hoof biomechanics, tracking the lost horse, lameness, and a panel of expert endurance riders.

Endurance 101 clinics led by author Aarene Storms were filled on both days, with "green bean" participants and experienced mentors ready to work together to make entry-level endurance a fun and exciting experience, highlighting information from the Endurance 101 book (Triangle Ranch Press, 2012). "My favorite part is always the stick pony vet check," said Storms with a laugh, "but participants really kept me busy with their great questions."

The Green Beans, a newly-formed endurance Facebook group for 'green' riders and horses, and willing mentors, adorned in clipped-on green tail ribbons provided by the Endurance 101 team, made time for meet-ups throughout the weekend to welcome riders new to the group and new to the sport.  

In addition, at the convention, PNER elections were held, and current President Becky Fiedler and Vice President Tani Bates were re-elected by acclamation of the membership. Further election results will be posted on the PNER website.

"We are building a sustainable event which has grown and matured into a righteous educational, social, and community event," Said Dr Eileen Reilich, one of the organizers of the convention. Reilich, an endurance rider, volunteered for the convention and updating the PNER website, and created the PNER slideshows, as well as being elected a rider representative for Washington state for 2014.

The event, held annually in January, is always an energetic start to the new ride season in AERC's Northwest Region.

Slideshows from the event can be seen here:
Friday Night Awards
Saturday Awards
Day at the Races

Friday, January 24, 2014

Laramie Endurance Rider Recognized

January 24 2014

Bonnie Swiatek, who competes in an equestrian sport called endurance riding, was recognized by the Mountain Region Endurance Riders as the 2013 limited distance champion. Swiatek completed the most miles on a single horse last year during sanctioned events, finishing with 945. That number placed her third in the country in the limited distance division, which is for rides of 25-35 miles a day. She competes on BRA Surprise Skylark.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

USEF Names Individuals to Restructured Board of Directors and Newly Formed Councils

USEFNetwork.comRELEASE: January 9, 2014

AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: USEF Communications Department

Lexington, Ky.- In accordance with Bylaws amended at the USEF Board of Directors Mid-Year Meeting the Federation’s governance structure has been modified to create a more agile and efficient organization. During the 2014 USEF Annual Meeting currently underway in Lexington Kentucky the new structure has been populated. The Administration & Finance Working Group, FEI Affiliates Working Group, High Performance Working Group, and National Affiliates Working Group have transitioned to become the Administrative and Finance Council, International Disciplines Council, and the National Breeds and Disciplines Council respectively.

Effective January 9, 2014, the Board of Directors has been streamlined from 54 members to 19. The following individuals have been elected or appointed to the USEF Board of Directors:

Chrystine Tauber, President
Ellen Di Bella, Vice-President
Bill Hughes, Secretary/Treasurer
Lisa Deslauriers
Derek di Grazia
Elisabeth Goth
Georgie Green
S. Tucker Johnson
Valerie Kanavy
Chris Kappler
Murray Kessler
Victoria Lowell
Beezie Madden
Bill Moroney
Michael Pollard
Cynthia Richardson
Howard Simpson
Chester Weber
George Williams

More here:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

AERC Mechanized Trail Master Machine Class at Convention

Dates:  March 4 & 5 or 10 & 11

($50/limited to 5 students) will be held directly before or after the 2014 AERC National Convention in Atlanta. Must be an AERC member and a certified Trail Master. Contact Mike Riter at 678 410-8021 or

Launching the New EasyShoe Blog

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by Garrett Ford

Thank you for making 2013 our best year ever!

The equine world continues to learn about better hoof care options and EasyCare hoof boot sales continue an upward trend. Bigger boot sizes was one of the most requested items in 2013 and because of this, we are adding larger sizes in three different hoof boot models. Larger sizes are now available in the Old Mac’s G2 and the Easyboot Trail: effective immediately, sizes #11 and #12 are available in both models. The Easyboot Glove Back Country will add #4.5 and #5 in April 2014. With the new sizing, EasyCare will offer 131 individual sizes spread over 13 different hoof boot models.

It gets better. EasyCare is adding a long-term form of flexible hoof protection to compliment our hoof boot range. After roughly 30 months of development and testing in many different disciplines, the EasyShoe product range is now ready for market and will benefit the health and soundness of equines around the world. We believe the EasyShoe is a great alternative to steel shoes and also has a place with barefoot horse owners: we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg for possible uses in the vet and podiatry worlds...

- See more at:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book of the Week: The Nature of Horses

The Nature of Horses
by Stephen Budiansky

Horses have a shared history with man going back millennia to their domestication around 4000 B.C. Yet only in very recent years have scientists begun to turn the tools of modem science on this remarkable animal that has been so wrapped up in human dreams and legends. Now modern scientific research is beginning to explain long-standing mysteries about the true nature of the horse. How well can horses really see? What causes breakdowns in racehorses? How intelligent are they compared to other animals, and are some breeds smarter than others? Does nature or nurture matter more in creating a great sport horse? What causes cribbing and other vices? In this beautifully illustrated, compelling narrative, Budiansky tells the story of the origins, behavior, intelligence and language of the horse. For the first time, horse lovers will have access to cutting-edge research on topics of interest including new information on horse vision, horse biology and movement. Introducing the latest archeological findings, Budiansky presents a fascinating discussion of how the horse evolved as well as a dramatic and provocative history of man's use and abuse of the horse from prehistoric times to today. In a revealing chapter on horse intelligence, he debunks the commonly held belief that horses are stupid and also presents compelling new scientific information on horse language which will greatly benefit the horse rider and trainer. Finally, drawing together the latest research on horse physiology, genetics and biomechanics, Budiansky asks the million dollar question - what makes for a winning racehorse? Anyone who loves horses will find this an invaluable resource as well as a fascinating read.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

AERC Convention Time Shift!

The timeline for Saturday, March 8, at the convention has switched around in order to accommodate SERA's annual meeting. Here is the latest convention information/schedule/registration form. It's going to be a great time and we hope you will make it!

Friday, January 17, 2014

USEF Announces Date and Location for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Endurance Team Selection Trial

The United States Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce a new location for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Endurance Team Selection Trial CEI2* 120km.

January 15, 2014 -- The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce a new location for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Endurance Team Selection Trial CEI2* 120km. The event will now take place April 17-20, 2014 in Broxton Bridge, SC.

The 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is being held August 23 - September 7, 2014 in Normandy, France with the Endurance event being held August 27th and 28th in Baie du Mont Saint Michel, France.

Information on the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games - Endurance can be found here:

For more information please contact Vonita Bowers, Director of Endurance, by email at [More ...]

Response to the FEI Motion by the AERC Veterinary Committee

Date: January 13, 2014

To: American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) Board of Directors
From: AERC Veterinary Committee
Re: Response to Sponsorship Committee’s Motion: Temporary Suspension of Concurrent FEI Events

The AERC Veterinary Committee understands and is sympathetic to concerns regarding FEI and its apparent inability to enforce its own equine welfare regulations.  However, the Veterinary Committee feels this
concern, while somewhat justified, is misguided, as AERC has its own equine welfare issues to attend to.  The Veterinary Committee feels strongly that separation from FEI will only diminish our collective voice and would in fact weaken AERC, making it appear more of an isolationist group and not interested in constructive dialogue.  AERC has a voice through USEF and on the Equine Strategic Planning Group (ESPG), through Joe Mattingley. To leave now, while there is progress being made would be counter-productive. To participate in the discussion
and lead by example is smarter than leaving the discussion and having no voice.

To lead by example in the early years of this sport was something the AERC was famous for.  The landmark equine welfare reform of “Fit to Continue” passed by AERC in 1990 has become the global standard. However, since that time AERC has not remained progressive, or even current, on equine welfare policies and is sadly lagging behind most other world endurance organizations and federations.  There is such glaring weakness in our own welfare policies that most on the Veterinary Committee in response to the FEI motion used such language as – “he who
lives in a glass house, should not cast stones.”

Many of the Veterinary Committee members are FEI veterinarians as well, and as such have a unique perspective into the workings of FEI endurance.  Their comments were overwhelmingly that unless an AERC member has specific knowledge, experience or a direct working relationship with FEI, then they are lacking the full facts and
information regarding the welfare issues within FEI.  They strongly feel that the proposed “line in the sand” will not affect FEI at all, as AERC has no leverage against FEI directly, but would only serve to damage those AERC members who have worked hard to participate in international riding.

In addition, the danger from radical animal rightest groups should NOT be underestimated.  And as such, we will all be painted with the same brush – AERC, FEI and USEF.  The general public will not take the time to see the intricate separations between our organizations.  Extremist groups rarely make an effort to fully investigate the crusades they take on.  Instead, such groups function using inflammatory platforms designed to appeal to the general public’s reactionary, sympathetic nature.  This motion will do nothing to insulate AERC from the ire of the general public if they suddenly decide riding horses over long distances is somehow cruel and unfair to the equine species.

In summary, the AERC Veterinary Committee voted unanimously, (with two abstentions), against the Sponsorship Committee’s “Temporary Suspension of Concurrent FEI Events.”  We recommend the AERC BOD to stay in the discussion with USEF and FEI, and work together to find constructive means to improve the welfare of horse’s competing in international level endurance.  In addition, the Veterinary Committee strongly urges the AERC BOD to consider a widespread, sweeping platform of equine welfare changes to improve the humane conditions of horses competing in endurance here at home in the USA.  To that end, the Veterinary Committee is currently finalizing such suggestions for the AERC BOD and general membership.

Respectfully submitted for the AERC Veterinary Committee

Jeanette L Mero, DVM
Chair, AERC Veterinary Committee

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tevis Cup: there is no Endurance race without trust and harmony between horse and rider! - Full Story

Among all the Endurance rides, the Tevis Cup holds a special position, not only for being the first competition in the modern history of Endurance, but also as it is considered the most difficult in the world. For Endurance riders, taking part in this mythical journey is a dream, a challenge and, perhaps more importantly, a target!

By Nathalie Weemaels, Ecuador

On July 20 I was fortunate enough not only to participate at the 2013 Tevis Cup, but also to carry the Ecuadorian flag to the finish, arriving on the 21st place on GE Haad Saad Pico, an Arabian horse which belongs to Christoph Schork, from the Global Endurance Training Center. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience, because of the breath-taking beautiful surroundings of the Sierra Nevada and also for the competition itself with such a high level of technique and… endurance!...

Read more here:

“My Favorite Trail” – Essay Contest Winner Named

January 2014
“My Favorite Trail” – Essay Contest Winner Named

Debra Ambrose’s Favorite Trail Essay Named the Winner
North Carolina trail and endurance rider Debra Ambrose was named the winner in the American Endurance Ride Conference’s “My Favorite Trail” essay contest.

She won a year’s free membership in AERC and a generous gift certificate from Riding Warehouse.

Debra spoke of clearing a trail with pruning shears, loppers and a shovel in order to reach a trail for training. Was that hard work worth it? As Debra’s essay concluded:

“I still marvel at how slow I was to appreciate the benefits of that first trail, how it brought me back to the rides I took out of my back yard on a pony forty years before.  It was our gateway to the world, built on our own effort. I thought of my mother on the kitchen porch as I rode out the driveway, and heard her voice reciting Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere as we cantered now in deeper footing along a pond, and roared up an incline to an old logging trace:
“He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft in the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.”
Second place went to Cyd Ross, and third place was Elizabeth Gould. “All the entrants shared their abiding love for their horses and the trails they ride on,” said AERC Executive Director Kathleen Henkel. “The contest was a great way for people to express what riding trails mean to them.”

All essays can be found in AERC’s quarterly online newsletter, AERC Extra:
AERC is the nation’s leading sport in encouraging the use, protection and development of equestrian trails. With rides ranging from 25 to 100 miles in a day, endurance riders are lucky enough to experience trails in all their glory as they train and compete. They would love to welcome new riders and their horses into the sport to share joy of riding trails, both new and historic. To find out more about the sport of endurance riding, visit

Part of AERC’s mission is to fund trail projects that not only make trail improvements for endurance rides, but for all who use the trail systems. Each year thousands of dollars contributed by endurance riders are given to trail grant applicants. The organization also hosts Trail Master classes to teach sustainable trail building, maintenance and repair skills to trail workers around the country.

Contact: Troy Smith
American Endurance Ride Conference
866-271-2372, 530-823-2260

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 2014's Endurance Day on Horses In the Morning Radio Show


January's edition of Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning Radio Show, co-hosted by Glenn the Geek and Karen Chaton featured northwest rider Susan Summers, who stopped by for a chat about the FEI/AERC controversy over recent drugging allagations. The new owners of Action Rider Tack stopped by in the middle half of the show to tell us about what's new. Rounding out the show Dennis Summers talked about moving up to the next level in endurance.

Listen to the show here:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

AERC Hall of Fame Rider Robert Ribley Responds to Sponsorship Committee Motion

January 13 2014

AERC Board of Directors
International Committee
Veterinary Committee 
Competitions Committee
Welfare of the Horse Committee
Sponsorship Committee

I am writing to you regarding the motion put forward from the Sponsorship Committee that proposes to suspend concurrent FEI and AERC events as of January 1, 2015 if AERC requirements are not met by FEI by December 31, 2014.

I am an AERC member, rider, ride manager, comittee member on various committees, committee chair and previous AERC director.   I am not an FEI rider nor do I ever plan on becoming an FEI rider (though I do think they could learn a thing or two from me).  I have ridden in a number of AERC/FEI co-sanctioned rides and what I observe is the safeguards put in place for the horses are more stringent and of a higher quality than most stand-alone AERC rides.  The FEI co-sanctioned rides have experienced, qualified endurance veterinarians and treatment readily available.  I observe that where a horse may be disqualifed from the FEI portion of the ride because they have not met the FEI criteria, the same horse will finish the AERC ride because of the more lax criteria.  My experience in the U.S. is that FEI rides are more stringently monitored, and safe for our horses than our AERC stand alone rides.  I have managed AERC/FEI co-sanctioned rides and find the U.S. FEI riders to be professional, courteous, and though competitive they still compete within the guidelines and rules put forth to keep their horses safe.  The first FEI/AERC ride I managed I had concerns about the level of competition within the FEI riders and associated problems.  What happened in reality was that compared to the level of competition and squabbling amongst the LD riders fighting at the finish line for a pulse, the FEI riders and horses posed no problem.

100 mile rides within AERC are struggling to survive due to the decrease in riders willing to take on the challenges and dedication it takes to ride this distance.  The 100 mile ride is the historical foundation upon which this sport is based and the organization should do what it can to help preserve and support the 100 mile one day ride, the distance that brought this sport into existence.   Denying sanctioning to 100 mile rides (and the associated distances for any particular ride) because they are FEI associated will do nothing to improve the welfare situation for horses on the other side of the world, but will assuredly accelerate the demise of 100 mile rides here in our home country.  

While I understand the reasons behind the intent of AERC to dissociate itself with FEI if certain parameters are not met, I do not see where taking our organization out of the discussion will in any way help the situation for horses overseas.  If AERC has identified safety and welfare issues for horses in our sport that are outside of our country, and we trueley want to help improve the situation for these horses, then we need to keep our voices heard by remaining active and leading by example.  To simply withdraw from the participation and therefore discussion will not bring AERC any closer to a resolution.  

The majority of AERC members have not ridden in FEI rides, have not managed FEI rides, and do not have enough knowledge about FEI to make an informed decision on this motion.  It is a "feel good" motion that on first glance seems to solve a problem they have heard rumors about. This is similiar to the "feel good" law that was passed in California banning horse slaughter.  The "horse lovers" that supported this measure did not foresee the ramifications that resulted such as overpopulation of unwanted/starving horses.  The AERC membership, before being asked what they think about this motion, should be educated by those more intimately involved in and knowledgeable about FEI on matters such as how withdrawing FEI sanctioning in the U.S. will help improve the situation for horses and what the potential negative ramifications for AERC the passage of this motion would mean.  

I have seen AERC in it's early years from the perspective of a rider and am a good judge of horse abuse.   We were a different culture in the beginnings of AERC - it's a fact that horses were overridden.  We have changed culturally, and some of these changes have not been because of rule changes but because of our views on how we look at our horses.  Rules often cannot put a stop to overriding horses, but what will stop it comes from within the rider.  Endurance riding in other countries is relatively new compared to the U.S. and they are still developing their cultural way in the treatment of horses.   Riders in any country who put a value on horses and truly learn to value their horses will eventually develop the desire within to preserve the health and longevity of their horses.
I would ask that committee chairs that are copied on this email forward it on to their respective committees.

Thank you for all that you do for AERC as directors and committee chairs.  AERC is an organization that I am proud to be a member of and with good direction will remain the leader within the sport of endurance riding.

Robert Ribley
AERC # 2247
Elections Committee Chair

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tschiffely's Ride -'s Book of the Week!

January 12 2014

Tschiffely's Ride: Ten Thousand Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star, by Aimé Tschiffely, is's book of the week.

From the southeast coast of South America through an expanse of Peruvian sands en route to the West Coast, then onward through Central American jungles and rainforest, and finally to New York, Tschiffely’s journey was considered impossible and absurd by many newspaper writers in 1925. However, after two and a half years on horseback with two of his trusty and tough steeds, this daring trekker lived to tell his best-selling tale.

Tschiffely’s 10,000-mile journey was filled with adventure and triumph, but it also forced the traveler to deal with tremendous natural and man-made obstacles, as many countries in Central America were war-torn. He traversed rivers and mountains in hurricanes and hail storms, stopping to stay the night with farmers and villagers in huts who often shared their mysterious and superstitious tales. He ate dried goats’ meat in a desolate town of Santiago del Estero, watched illegal cockfights and vicious machete battles between plantation workers in Jujuy, and was healed by an Indian herb doctor in the mountains of Bolivia for his infection after excavating graves; these obstacles have captured the hearts of people from around the world.

In addition to the remarkable details of his travel expedition, Tschiffely’s relationship with his horses, Mancha and Gato, is perhaps the most endearing element of the book, and his photos of the people and places he encountered make Tschiffely’s Ride the perfect travel companion for adventure enthusiasts.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

AERC-I Responds to AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal

AERC-I Responds to AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal

January 11 2014

AERC-I is the AERC liaison in the USA for FEI International Equine Endurance Rides. The group has responded to the AERC Sponsorship Committee's motion which proposes temporary suspension of concurrent FEI events with AERC rides.

This is continued fallout from the FEI Endurance Controversy and doping scandal that began last summer with the illegal seizure of "thousands of pounds" of illegal equine drugs seized from a private plane, and a subsequent raid of illegal veterinary drugs from Shaikh Mohammed's endurance Moorley Farm East in Newmarket, and the consequent exposure of endurance horse doping positives and deaths, particularly in the FEI Group VII are (which includes the Middle East and North Africa).

A complete history of the scandal can be reviewed here:

Following is AERC-I's response to the AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal: (link here; letter is printed below)

AERC-I Response to Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal

The International Committee of AERC vehemently opposes the Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal to temporarily suspend sanctioning of FEI events, effective July 1, 2014.

Approval of this motion proposal would be a counter-productive method to effect the changes desired by AERC. A much better solution is for AERC to remain in its current active and positive role and thus retain its voice and strength to help direct the changes that will be made within FEI.

Approval of the motion would, in the first place, not effect the desired changes, and in the second place, have unintended negative consequences for AERC, all the while doing absolutely nothing to promote global horse welfare.

1. Approval of this motion would in no way effect changes desired within FEI.

• The US does not hold leverage over FEI, and US withdrawal from the FEI Endurance arena will not have the effect of coercing any action for positive change

• Withdrawal of the US from FEI will in fact destroy our credibility and our voice within International endurance. We currently have some of the most experienced and respected individuals we have ever had within our FEI framework, and we are poised to be able to have some actual, very positive, influence within the organization. Our current committee members, leaders, and our Chef d’Equipe will work with those representatives from other countries with similar opinions to our own, and our united voices will be heard within FEI. Withdrawal will take away our right to have a voice, our ability to be heard within the FEI arena, and will completely strip us of any ability to effect positive changes. It will also cause us to abandon our allies from other countries, thus weakening all of our collective voices.

• There is much concern over public perception and a negative image for the sport of endurance. This seems to be the major impetus driving the current controversy and motion proposal to separate AERC from FEI. The fact is that such a separation will NOT change any public perception. The supposed bad name of endurance will be out there, and the public will not make any distinction between AERC Endurance and FEI Endurance. The public will only see a negative perception. Therefore, and this is a very important point, the best way out of this maze for AERC is not to abandon the cause, but to stay in the fight, and to be a part of making the change from negative to positive public image! The same is true for actual horse welfare, above and beyond the public perception issue. Only by retaining a right to be heard and a right to shape the future of all Endurance around the world, can we genuinely say that we are horse welfare advocates.

• Radical activist groups will attack at their own whim, regardless of whether or not AERC is affiliated with FEI. If we divide ourselves, we stand ready to fall. United, we will prevail.

2. Approval of this motion would have unintended detrimental consequences for AERC.

• 100 mile rides: International member may only be 7% of the AERC membership population, but they are directly responsible for 42% of the 100 mile rides. At one time in AERC history, any ride shorter than 100 miles was not considered to be “endurance.” In this day and age, we are long removed from that sentiment, but there are some who still hold the opinion that the 100 mile ride is the Crown Jewel of our sport, and should be regarded as something worth preserving. Of the 14 100 mile rides on the US AERC calendar at the time of this writing, seven are dual-sanctioned with FEI. Of those seven rides, only one would exist without the dual-sanctioning. Most of these seven rides would never have been started without FEI, in the first place, and most of them would be in jeopardy without the FEI sanctioning, increased numbers of entries, and personnel support system that comes with FEI sanctioning. Of the ones in jeopardy, two are so dependent upon FEI riders for numbers of entries, the entire ride, all distances, would likely cease to exist. These two rides are the historic Biltmore ride, as well as the Pioneer ride FITS. Riders of all levels, not just those interested in International, will be negatively affected by the loss of FEI sanctioning. LD riders, 50 mile riders, and pioneer riders need to recognize how unalterably interwoven are all of our interests in this issue. Loss of FEI sanctioning would not just do away with half of our 100 mile rides, but would cause the loss of other distances available for everyone, as well.

• Financial impact: see above for loss of ride entries/per-rider fees/ride sanctioning fees. In addition, there would be a reduction of 75 mile rides, as the FEI star rating system has necessitated a resurgence of this intermediate distance.

• Unknown impact for insurance and drug testing programs, associated with USEF.

• Legal impact: AERC would not be upholding its affiliate responsibilities for USEF. In addition, AERC may be on rather murky legal grounds if they attempt to rescind ride sanctioning without good cause.

• Junior/Young Riders: International is a huge supporter of our youth riders. There is unprecedented financial and educational support and encouragement available for AERC youth riders within the FEI arena. Our Juniors and Young Riders have had opportunities to travel and compete in foreign countries, as well as to experience a higher level of championship competition on our own turf. FEI supports competitions exclusively for Juniors and Young Riders, and gives them their own level playing field, thus encouraging them to rise to better levels of global humanitarian perspectives, overall horsemanship and sportsmanship, and insightful personal achievement.

The AERC International Committee agrees that action must be taken to clean up the FEI house. This is not the issue in question. The contention lies with the method to be employed. Attempting to strong-arm the FEI by threatening our withdrawal if our criteria are not met is NOT the answer. Educating our membership as to the actual issues and supporting our very fine members who are in the debate representing us IS the answer. The Committee has much confidence in our representatives and in their abilities to work with representatives from other nations with similar strong ethics and beliefs to effect definite, positive, and timely change within FEI. Furthermore, USEF has such high regard for our representatives and their credentials, that Valerie Kanavy was just elected to the USEF Board of Directors representing the Non-Olympic disciplines, and Joe Mattingley was elected as the Chairperson of the International Disciplines Council.

The AERC International Committee feels very strongly that any careful consideration of the true issues at hand cannot lead to any conclusion other than that we and the horses and the sport we wish to honor and protect will be best served by putting forth a united voice. The consequences of division would be far-reaching, unforeseeable in totality, and potentially extremely damaging. The impetus for change within the FEI governing structure has reached a point of inevitability, and the opportunity for AERC to be an integral part of that change should be enthusiastically cultivated.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Race to the finish - Full Article

January 10, 2014
By Heather Johnson

A new craze sweeping the nation is gaining ground in North Platte.

Kerri Ross is among those jumping boots first into virtual endurance horse racing.

“I started last year,” Ross said. “Horseback riding had always been a hobby of mine, but now it’s my life.”

Tammy Vasa, of Weston, started the competition. The rules are simple. People track how far they ride using a GPS device.
They then post those miles online, where the data is gathered and logged onto a spreadsheet. The person who rides the most miles by the end of the year wins bragging rights...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

"AERC Is Trails" Essay Contest Produces Top-Notch Stories

January 9 2014

The Winter edition of AERC Extra - the online newsletter for AERC members - features trail stories from participants who entered stories in the "AERC Is Trails" contest.

The contest celebrates riders' favorite trails where the authors love to ride. Over 30 entries were received and judged by AERC's Trails and Land Management Committee members.

Riding Warehouse sponsored this contest and provided gift certificates to the winners, Debra Ambrose (first place), Cyd Ross (second place), and Elizabeth Gould (third place).

The ride stories submitted by the entrants can be seen here in the Winter AERC Extra:

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Kimery Awarded the Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award and the Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy

RELEASE: January 7, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: USEF Communications Department

Lexington, KY - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce Christina Kimery as the winner of the two prestigious awards in the discipline of Endurance, the Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award and the Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy. 2013 is the first time the coveted awards have been won by the same individual.

The Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award, sponsored by Gold Medal Farm, and Larry and Valerie Kanavy, is in memory of Maggy Price, who was the 1992 FEI World Endurance Championship Silver medalist instrumental in the development of international endurance in the U.S. The award is presented to the Endurance Rider Ranking List athlete with the most points earned in the competition year. The Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy is presented to the Endurance Rider Ranking List Junior/Young Rider athlete with the most points earned in the competition year. The Trophy is awarded in memory of Kathy Brunjes, who was a successful endurance athlete and an active supporter of the Junior/Young Rider program.

Sixteen-year-old Kimery (Bixby, Okla.) had a noteworthy year, claiming top honors at numerous endurance races in 2013. Kimery began her year with two wins in January at the Broxton Bridge CEIYJ2*, riding Jeremy Olson's SA Belshazzar and Laurie Pearson’s Rohara Royale +. Her success continued with an impressive showing at the CEIYJ2* in Williston, Fla., finishing in first place on Rohara Royale + and in third on Amy Wallace-Whelan’s Wallace Hill Shade. She had additional wins and high placings at the Indian Springs Endurance (Las Cruces, N.M.) CEIYJ2* and the Zone Team Endurance Challenge (Ashland, Mont.) CEIYJ2* & CEIYJ3*. Kimery had a strong performance in Tarbes, France, while representing the U.S. at the FEI Junior/Young Rider World Endurance Championships. She is involved in the Bixby High School Future Farmers of American program where her endurance riding is recognized and supported, allowing her to compete throughout the school year. Kimery is also a member of her high school’s skeet team and enjoys hunting and fishing with her dad.

“Christina Kimery was an immense joy for me to have on the team of Young Riders this summer at the Worlds in Tarbes, France,” said Emmett Ross, Endurance Chef d'Equipe and Technical Advisor. “As my youngest team rider she was one of the most focused and competent. Christina has an immense unlimited future in endurance. Her family support group was incredible as well. Thanks to the Kimerys.”

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Program for Welfare of the Endurance Horse

by Stagg Newman

A Program for Welfare of the Horse
An Open letter to the AERC BoD and Members

AERC in the past took the initial lead in establishing standards for endurance riding that promoted the welfare of the horse but has lost that leadership position as discussed below.  AERC should reclaim the global leadership role for welfare of the horse in the sport of endurance.  To do so AERC should undertake a comprehensive program to protect our horses that includes
-research, and
-rule changes

AERC is to be commended for past actions to protect the welfare of the horse.  AERC was formed in the 1970s to provide protection for horses competing in endurance at a time when horse fatalities in endurance racing were common and there were no or minimal rules.  AERC brought veterinary controls to the sport.  The initial AERC rules fit on one piece of paper.  Underlying those rules was an assumption that endurance riders were knowledgeable, experienced and responsible equestrians.  Most endurance riders had grown up with horses.  In the ‘80s as a result of a still unacceptable fatality rate, particularly experiences at the Tevis ride, some leaders in AERC started advocating for more stringent rules.   Around 1990, AERC developed the current Fit to Continue criteria that became the global standard for vet checks in endurance competitions.  In the 2000s AERC led the way in investigation and publication of horse fatalities, i.e. transparency.  That is an admirable foundation.

However, we have not successfully reduced the fatality rate in the past 15 years.   Moreover, the reality is AERC is no longer regarded globally as a leader in the sport, particularly with respect to protecting the welfare of the horse.  Many other national and local organizations have taken stronger actions recently than AERC to protect our horses (see Appendix A).  Therefore, we need to ask – and demand an honest answer -- whether the original assumption that all AERC riders are knowledgeable, experienced and responsible equestrians is really valid.  In fact, many endurance riders like this author did not grow up riding horses.  Rather many of us started riding horses after we were well into our adult years and have learned to be equestrians as we did endurance rides. 
The articles by Dr. Jerry Gillespie, Chair of the Research Committee, and Dr. Jay Mero, Chair of the Veterinary Committee, in the January EN make a strong case for why AERC needs to do more to protect the welfare of our horses.

So we now need to ask what more AERC needs to do. I would like to engage the membership in discussing this issue leading up to the AERC convention in Atlanta which appropriately this year has the theme “Horses First”.

First we need to acknowledge that endurance riding does bring increased risk to our horses.  Olin Balch on the Research Committee has done an excellent job of analyzing the fatality record for the period of 2002 to 2012.  I would recommend reading his one page report on the AERC web site.  The following table from his report indicates the risk inherent in our sport. 

Table 2 -  Effect of ride length on fatalities: '02 – '12
All ridesLD's50 milers75 milers100 milers
All fatalities801142120
Starts per fatality2,9268,0333,0384,358488
Exercise-related Fatalities*58934114
Starts per endurance
related fatality
*Exercise-related deaths  are those associated  with the exercise demands of the sport such as with metabolic disease induced by the demands of endurance riding.   Non-exercise-related deaths include but were not limited to falls off trails, vehicle collisions, nighttime corral escapes, coincidental colics, sudden exsanguinations, and an enterolith obstruction of the colon. 
As two reference points to compare to this table use the following:
1. for horses in the general equine population, in the 5 to 20 age category over a two day period the data available indicates an expectation of about 1 fatality per 14,000 horses.
2.  for horses entered in flat track dirt racing in the U.S., the data available indicates an expectation of about 1 fatality per 588 starts.
An oversimplification of the statistical implications of this is that a horse incurs about a 5 fold increase in risk as a result of entering an endurance competition compared to staying at home.  Horses entering a 100-mile competition are at similar risk of dying as a result of going to and entering the event as a horse entering a flat track race in the U.S.   For this author who has focused on and completed well over 50 100-mile competitions, this was a sobering statistic.

So we need to ask what we can do to mitigate this risk.
We should analyze steps that our sport can take to improve the welfare of the horse and mitigate risks in three areas:
I.  Horse and Rider Qualification
II.  Ride Design
III. Veterinary Control

Appendix A provides examples from either local organizations (e.g. the Western States Trail Ride, aka Tevis) or national organizations of other countries (their equivalent of AERC) of controls that have been implemented to improve the welfare of the horses.   These examples are given to initiate discussion and not necessarily to advocate for these ideas.  Each idea needs to be analyzed on its merits and applicability for AERC.

We in AERC should compile a far more complete list of ideas from
-the ideas of our membership
-the practices of other local and national organizations
-a survey of the research literature including the work of the AERC Research Committee

These ideas can form the basic input for developing a long term program of education, research, and improved rules for the welfare of the horse.  The author understands that a set of near term actions is being considered by the Vet Committee and the Research Committee and commends that effort.  This effort is intended to complement that effort to create an on-going program that improves the welfare of our horses.

Stagg Newman
AERC Member 6477
Past President of AERC

Appendix A – Early Draft
Local and National Endurance Organization Rules to Promote the Welfare of the Horse
Examples – not a complete list
The following list is intended to stimulate discussion.  The author is not advocating for these ideas per se nor against them.
I.  Horse and Ride Qualification Rules
A.  Australia

R3    Novice Rider
3.1     A person is deemed to be a novice rider until the requirements of the following sub-rules have been complied with:
a)     The person must successfully complete two affiliated training rides before entering an affiliated endurance ride as a novice rider. Logbook(s) or vet cards must be presented to prove completion.
b)    The novice rider must then enter a sufficient number of affiliated endurance rides as a novice rider to successfully complete 240 kilometres at any time and in any riding section (excluding training rides). Logbook(s) must be presented to substantiate the distance completed.
3.1          When the requirements of the above rule have been complied with, the person will be issued with a standard Membership Card by the State Management Committee.
3.2          Pending receipt of the standard Membership Card the person may enter any affiliated endurance ride and is not required to enter as a novice rider, provided they show sufficient proof by presenting Logbooks as referred to above with their novice rider endorsed Membership Card.
3.3          A novice rider must not be entered in an affiliated endurance ride when the total distance of the ride is more than 120 kilometres to be ridden in one day.
3.4          Novice riders must attend the pre-ride briefing and will not be permitted to participate in the ride if they have not attended.
3.5          The minimum riding time for all novice riders in each leg of an endurance ride shall comply with one of the following:
a)     shall comply with a minimum riding time determined by the ride committee in consultation with the Chief Steward and Head Veterinarian.  The minimum riding time shall be calculated by dividing the distance of the ride or leg by 14 km/h or less;
b)    shall ride behind a pace rider as defined in the TRAINING RIDE RULES. The pace rider shall not complete the distance of any riding leg in a time less than that as determined in R.3.6a) above.
Endurance Rider
4.1     An endurance rider is a member who has successfully completed 240 kilometres as a novice rider and been issued a standard Membership Card and who has not been reduced to novice status by any provision of a rule.
B.  Brazil
Brazil now requires several novice (LD level) competitions before a horse can compete in an open level competition (details to be supplied later)

C.  Great Britain
Endurance Great Britain (EGB) requires horses and riders to compete at a novice (30-50 km) before they can move to the open level (equivalent to endurance riders of 50 miles or more in the U.S.)

Novice Level Riders and Ride Rules
The minimum age for any horse to take part in a Graded Endurance Ride (GER) is 5 years. The age of a horse is deemed to change on 1st January of the current year irrespective of the actual birth date during that year
A Novice horse aged 5 and in its first season may only compete at Novice Level. All Novice horses in their first season may not start in more than ten Graded Endurance Rides (GERs) and must only start rides to a maximum distance of 450km whether or not the rides are completed successfully. A horse presented to the pre-ride veterinary inspection is considered to have started the ride.  
Rides available to Novice Horse/Rider combinations are from 30-50km and are to be completed at between 8-15kph.
A Novice Level horse aged 6 yrs or over in its first season may complete Open qualification ready to compete at Advanced level from the start of its second season - providing the maximum distance is not exceeded.
A horse and rider must compete at the lowest qualification for the combination. For example, an Open Level rider riding a Novice Level horse can only compete at Novice Level.
First season horses may complete their novice and open qualifications, providing age requirements are satisfied. They must not upgrade or compete at advanced level within one season. 
However riders may progress to Advanced Level within one season.
Minimum Requirements for Novice Horse or Rider to Progress to Open Level

Minimum age of horseRide TypesMinimum No of Successful CompletionsDistance km +/-5%Conditions
5GER (Graded Endurance Rides)330-50None (rides may be completed in any order of distance)

Horses may not compete in Open GERs until they are 6years old.
Furthermore EGB has additional requirement to compete at open rides of 65-80 km before horses or riders can advance to the advanced level.
A first season horse, which has completed qualification to Open, may not start GERs exceeding a total distance of 450km during that season.  
Rides available to Open Horse/Rider combinations are GERs of up to 90km in one day or a maximum of 130km over two consecutive days. The rides should be ridden at speeds between 10-18kph.
However, an Open Level horse/rider combination may, if they wish enter a Novice class.  When an Open level horse and rider enter a Novice class this must be indicated clearly at the top of the vet sheet prior to presenting for vetting.  Failure to do so may result in the horse being classified as Open/Advanced. If an Open level horse enters a novice class then it will not receive grading points – only distance points will be awarded. 
The speed parameters in a Novice class are 8-15kph.  If entering a Pleasure Ride (PR) the speed parameters are 8-12kph.

Minimum Requirements for Open Level Horse or Rider to Progress to Advanced 

Minimum age of horseRide TypesMinimum No f Successful CompletionsDistance mms (+/-5%)Conditions
6GER265-80kmAt least one must be 80 km in one day

D.  Tevis
The Western States 100 mile ride, the foundation ride of our sport now has explicit rider qualifications and strong recommendations on horse qualifications.

“Riders must be qualified by having completed a minimum number of sanctioned distance riding miles. You are qualified if, at the time of application, you have completed at least 300 cumulative lifetime miles of competition in AERC, NATRC, or competitive rides of 50 miles or longer approved as equivalent by WSTF ride management, or you have completed the Tevis Cup Ride. Riders fully completing the Tevis Educational Ride and Seminars will be given credit for 150 miles for a two day ride and 75 miles for a one day ride toward the 300 mile requirement. The Veterinary Committee of the Western States Trail Ride strongly recommends that horses entered in the Ride have at least 300 miles of completed distance competition in events of 50 miles or longer.
II.  Ride Design
A.  Australia
12.1      The heart rate is to be set no higher than a maximum of 60 beats per minute, unless run in conjunction with an FEI ride as per Rule V9.
12.2        Rides of 119 kilometres or less should have a minimum of 3 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last leg should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity where possible.
12.3        Rides of 120 kilometres to less than 160kilometres should have a minimum of 4 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last two legs should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity, where possible.
12.4        Rides of 160 kilometres are to have a minimum of 5 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last two legs should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity, where possible.

B.  Brazil
Brazil now has a standard that all holds must be a minimum of 40 minutes so horses can rehydrate and get nourishment.
C.  Biltmore Challenge
The Biltmore Challenge has the ride finish line 1.2 miles away from camp in large field for safe area for race at finish away from all dirt roads that could have car traffic.
D.  Vermont
The Vermont rides now frequently require a 10 to 15 minute mandatory hold between 10 and 15 miles out for horses to have an opportunity to rehydrate.  This also breaks the early race brain mentality for excitable horses.
E.  Research from Canada by Drs. Lindinger and Ecker (need to get more precise details and references)
-the sweat loss early in a ride has a much heavier concentration of electrolytes and thus is far more detrimental to a horse
-horses need to have an opportunity to rehydrate within the first 16 miles or so of the start of the ride to avoid getting into a substantive hydration deficit situations.  Moreover horses should as the ride goes beyond the 30 miles mark or so accumulate at least 2 minutes of hold time for each mile of trail covered.
III.  Veterinary Control
A.  Australia  -
13.1        The following guidelines are to ensure horse welfare issues can always be dealt with, especially where horses are required to be treated during a ride.
13.2        For all rides with a standard 30 minute veterinary check there should be a minimum of two veterinarians for up to 60 horses. For each additional 30 horses, another veterinarian should be provided.
13.3        For vet-gate-into-hold rides, the recommended ratio is one veterinarian per 15 horses.
13.4        For rides of 120 kilometres or more, a separate additional treatment veterinarian is required, present at the ride base.  Note that these ratios do not necessarily apply to the pre-ride vet check.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

US National Endurance Organization Feels the Heat

January 4 2013

by Merri Melde -

The FEI Endurance Controversy regarding positive horse dopings and deaths which caused a world-wide uproar beginning in the summer of 2013, is trickling down to the foundations of the sport, which originated in the USA in 1955 with the birth of the 100-mile Tevis Cup in California.

The raging international controversy has inspired much consternation and reform demands by many nations outside the FEI Group VII area (which includes the Middle East and North Africa), from where most of the violations have originated.

Due to the public outcry, an Endurance Strategic Planning Group was formed to meet during the November 2013 FEI General Assembly in Montreux, Switzerland. This group set forth proposals designed to address the contentious issues in international Endurance, particularly the incidences of doping and injuries, and misconduct of officials.

While it is a step in the right direction, many feel the FEI is moving far too slowly in dealing with the crises, and repercussions may spill out into non-FEI-related endurance riding.

In the USA, the AERC - American Endurance Ride Conference - is currently recognized as the "affiliated endurance organization" by USEF - United States Equestrian Federation, the USA Federation member of FEI. AERC is to encourage and promote the direction of growth of the endurance discipline.

AERC and its members have been swept up into the FEI debate, worrying that the current state of the FEI sport of endurance racing has tainted the original idea of the sport of endurance riding, and will negatively affect its existence in the USA.

AERC was founded in 1972 "as the national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls." Part of AERC's mission statement is to "attract and reward members who act to insure the highest priority for their horses' immediate and long-term physical and emotional health and well-being." Many feel FEI endurance racing has become the antithesis of this mission statement.

While all of AERC members who have voiced opinions agree that the FEI rule infractions are wrong and unacceptable, they are divided on whether or not AERC should completely divorce itself from FEI, or to try to use its influence and its reputation as promoting endurance horse welfare to improve the situation. Only about 6.3% of the AERC membership are also FEI members.

While members on one side of the debate insist that AERC can have a good influence on FEI, members on the other end of the spectrum argue that AERC never has and never will have any influence on FEI, and that the bad press, the breaking of and blatant disregard for FEI rules in Middle Eastern countries, and the drugging and deaths of endurance horses will blanket the AERC organization in America and paint them with the same brush.

AERC originally responded to the FEI Endurance controversy with a letter to USEF in June of 2012, voicing strong alarm "in regard to profoundly disturbing evidence of deficiencies in horse welfare issues, including an increase in equine fatalities, orthopedic injuries and serious drug violations." The letter urged USEF to submit a letter to FEI regarding these concerns.

AERC followed up with recommendations to ESPG's proposals on December 19, 2013, including demanding FEI's commitment to change, transparency of equine fatalities, major penalties for rule-breakers, extensive drug testing at major competitions, limited competitors per team, and disciplinary action for rule infractions.

The AERC Sponsorship Committee, chaired by AERC Board Member Randy Eiland, has now offered a motion for discussion, which proposes temporary suspension of concurrent FEI events with AERC rides. In part, it states: "If FEI has not incorporated enforcement of the policies approved by AERC in its December, 2013 Letter to FEI, on or before June 30, 2014 then on July 1, 2014 AERC will decline sanctioning of rides that intend to hold an FEI event concurrently with the AERC event.  This action by AERC will be rescinded when either 1) FEI accepts and begins enforcement of the policies found in Exhibit “A”; or 2) FEI begins enforcement of policies that are acceptable to AERC. "

The complete proposal can be seen here:

A complete recap of the news regarding the FEI Endurance Controversy over the last year can be seen here:

Friday, January 03, 2014

Frank, Born of the Wind and Runner of Many Trails - 1985?-2013

January 3 2014

They were a common sight in the Northwest for over a dozen years: the mustached rider with the reins double wrapped around his gloved hands, and a plain dark brown bay roaring down the trail with his head in the air, trying to go faster than his rider wanted.

Idaho's Tom Noll had gotten it in his head in 2002 that he wanted to do endurance, but he didn’t know how to ride. He bought Frank - the unpapered horse once owned by Wayne Newton (maybe) - in 2002, and Frank taught Tom how to ride.

And Tom Noll and Frank did it all together: over 5000 endurance miles, Tevis, the Big Horn 100 (3 completions together, including a first place and Best Condition), Best Condition 5-day horse at the Owyhee Canyonlands, the Pony Express Trail on the 2011 XP, and Decade Team.

I first rode with Tom and Frank in 2008, one of those rides where Frank was pulling Tom along quite insistently, incensed at Frank's perceived slowness of our pace. Tom had said, "I started him on Adequan shots a while back, and they took 5 years off his life. Maybe I shouldn't have done that!" We decided if Frank wrote a book, it would start out like this: "All I ever heard out of Tom's mouth was, 'Slow down!'" The title of every chapter would be, "Idiot!" Have you seen the made-in-southern-Idaho movie Napoleon Dynamite? Frank, we imagined, uses the same tone of voice calling his rider "Idiot!" when he wants to go out front, and when he wants to go faster, the opposite of what Tom wants. We imagined that Frank uses this word quite often.

[slide show]

Tom called Frank an "outlaw horse", and his best friend. Frank died on December 29, 2013 from colic. Following is Tom's tribute to his best friend.
~ Merri Melde

Frank, Born of the Wind and Runner of Many Trails
1985 (?) – December 29, 2013

My horse Frank died late in December. Anyone’s best guess is that Frank was nearly 30 years old. Frank was an outlaw horse from Wyoming with no papers and an unknown past. His breeding looked to be Morgan perhaps mixed with some Arabian. Frank showed the look of eagles. Many of you remember Frank and I am not exaggerating when I write that Frank was a legendary horse.
Frank ran 100s and Frank ran multi-days. Frank’s signature trail was the Big Horn 100 but he also finished Tevis and he finished the National Championship 100. Frank last ran the Big Horn in 2010 for the 40th Anniversary of the Big Horn 100. Frank and I traveled across the west on the Pony Express Trail on the 2011 XP. Frank was an AERC 5,000 mile horse and Frank and I were a decade team.
Frank never turned away from difficulty. I never had to ask for speed – all I had to do was relax and let Frank go. Frank’s only questions were “how far and how fast.” Frank was forward but Frank was a true gentleman and Frank was humble. Frank had nearly 6,000 AERC miles with one pull and one overtime finish.
Frank’s record is significant but the numbers do not tell his story. Frank and I were partners in every sense of the word. We trusted each other completely. We were brothers of different species but we were cut from the same cloth.
Frank taught me how to ride, and together we saw some of the best parts of the west. I spent thousands of hours on the trails with Frank. On those trails, we met many riders and horses and we made many friends. Together, we saw wild horses and we saw wild lands. We shared the sun, and the moon, and the stars. We shared sunrises and sunsets. We shared fair weather and fierce storms, sweltering heat and bitter cold. We shared red rock deserts and high mountain passes. We also shared love and beauty. We shared our thoughts and we shared our innermost feelings. Frank showed poetry and magic to me. At certain moments time stopped and a mystical door opened, and we traveled together in another realm of consciousness.
Frank was my best friend. Frank offered help when I faced difficult times in my life. Frank never complained and he never asked anything of me until the very last moments of his life. In those last moments, Frank’s eyes looked to me and Frank asked for my help. I honored Frank’s request as we both faced that most difficult decision together. In my heart, I knew. I placed my hand on his forehead, and Frank was gone.
I am sad because I will never see trails through those two pointed black ears again until it is my time to cross the rainbow bridge and our spirits meet. Frank was my best friend and I love that little bay horse.
From my heart,
Tom Noll

Thursday, January 02, 2014

PNER Convention will be held Jan. 24-25

January 1, 2014

Horse enthusiasts in the Clark County area who enjoy trail riding, riding in new areas, camping with their horse and talking horse all weekend will find just what they are looking for at the annual convention put on by the Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides, Inc.

The convention will be held this year Fri.-Sat., Jan. 24-25, at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel, 8235 NE Airport Way, Portland.

Started back in the early 1970s, the convention will offer Endurance 101 classes for the beginner or newly-interested endurance rider; a nutrition class for the performance horse; a class to learn how to use your Garmin GPS for tracking your riding on the trails; a Yoga for Riders class; a class with videos for learning how to spot lameness in horses; biomechanics of the horses hoof; and classes on tracking the lost horse. There will also be a panel of experienced endurance riders who can answer questions.

During the convention, there will be a trade show with various vendors offering tack, nutrition for both equine and human, laser therapy for both, clothing and more. There will also be a huge used tack sale.

Endurance riding is a unique equine event in which horse and rider teams compete over distances of 50 to 100 miles in one day. Limited-distance events are 20- to 35-mile rides completed in one day. Accomplishments in endurance and limited-distance events are recognized at the annual convention.

Shopping will be available at the free trade show, open to the public Jan. 24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Jan. 25, 8 a.m.-6 p.m..
There will be opportunities to visit and swap horse stories with other equine lovers. Both Friday and Saturday evenings will feature the year-end awards celebrating the accomplishments of Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides members. The weekend will culminate on Saturday, Jan. 25, with a banquet and dance.

For additional information on this event, including cost, speaker schedules and more, visit, or contact Tani Bates at or Becky Feidler at

Mountain Region Endurance Riders Convention

The Mountain Region Endurance Riders Convention will be held January 31-February 2, 2014, in Northglenn, Colorado.

Registration : Payment must accompany your registration and must be RECEIVED no later than January 19. Check the registration form! Additional fees for late or at the door registration. You may also register on-line. Full refund if you cancel by Jan 26, 2014. Notify Joann Kewish at 719-942-4203 or

MRER Horse Bingo: Best way to spend a Fri. night! Cash bar with appetizers 6-10 PM, Bingo begins at 7 PM. Win ride entries!

Morning Session: "Conformation of the Horse/Relationship of Form to Function." G. Marvin Beeman, DVM, Emeritus. Dr. Beeman is a founding member of Littleton Equine Medical Center, and an avid horseman and equine practitioner for 55 years. He will be speaking on how a horse's conformation can affect its future performance and its performing longevity.

Afternoon Session: "Optimal Training and Conditioning for the Endurance Horse." Julie A. Bullock, DVM. Dr.Bullock has an equine dentistry practice in Virginia. She is also a 4star FEI Endurance Vet, has been a team coach and endurance veterinarian internationally as well as in the US. She will share her experience and knowledge in training and conditioning the endurance horse, particularly for 50-100 mile competitions. Her endurance career includes successfully completing 16 100-mile races, over 70% which have been in the top 10. Her 50 mile race record is as impressive, with most completions in the top 10 and several BC's .

Trade Show and Ride Managers table: Check out new items in endurance gear for both horse and rider. Restock electrolytes, easy boots, supplements, and other essentials for the upcoming ride season. Sell your unused saddle and tack. Pick up MT Region ride entry forms. Buy more raffle tickets!

Award Dinner: Join us as we recognize the accomplishments of all our riders this year.MC'd once again by Holly Ulyate and Susie Schomburg. Raffle will be at both lunch and dinner. Great prizes, including lots of ride entries. We will also recognize the horse and human inductees into the MRER Hall of Fame.

For more information see: